JACKSONVILLE – What We Learned in Jaguars 2014 organized team activities and minicamp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields …
1. This team is better than last year. This is as it should be, because Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has had two drafts and two offseasons of free-agency acquisitions, waiver-wire pickups, etc. The rebuild isn’t complete, not yet, but this is a more talented team than this time last offseason. And even without full contact in the offseason, it’s visible. It’s visible on the defensive line. And on the offensive line. And in the secondary. It could be better elsewhere, too, but it’s notable there.
2. This team is deeper than last year. That’s particularly true on the defensive line, with at least some evidence to that effect being the release Thursday morning of veteran defensive end Jason Babin. He led the team with 7.5 sacks last season. But the Jaguars signed free-agent
3. The team is ahead of last season. Yes, the Jaguars are deeper and better, but when Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley wrapped the offseason Thursday he focused on the team’s maturity. That, he said, should enable the Jaguars to make greater strides in camp than a year ago. Bradley spent last offseason and the regular season trying to establish a culture. He never would say “mission accomplished,” but the mission is a whole lot closer than it was last year.
4. The offseason has gotten loo-o-o-o-ng. Maybe it’s pushing the draft back. Maybe it’s the open, much-publicized nature of organized team activities, but the NFL offseason just feels longer than ever.
7. Henne deserves to be the starting quarterback. This isn’t just a case of the team not wanting to play Bortles to keep the pressure off. Right now, Henne is the better player and clearly ahead in practice. He is more accurate, more poised and appears to be making better decisions. That’s as it should be. Henne is a veteran and has a year in the offense. Bortles is a rookie.
8. Bortles has looked how he has supposed to look. The last line in No. 7: “Bortles is a rookie.” That’s not slamming Bortles. He’s *supposed* to be a rookie. The Jaguars knew he was a rookie, and expected him to look like it at times. He has looked like a rookie should look. He has struggled at times. He has looked good at others. He has had a few days on which he was inaccurate and others on which he has seen receivers at the second or third level and completed passes. He has had some plays where he moves in the pocket very well, keeps his eyes downfield and makes the right throw. Overall, he appeared to improve from the start of OTAs until the end of minicamp, and that’s what the Jaguars hoped to see.
9. Bortles is diligent – and honest. Bortles made headlines on occasion during OTAs and minicamp when he offered some candid assessment of his play. On Wednesday, in fact, he said he had thrown “average” much of the offseason. He explained not for the first time that he had been relearning his footwork on a significant level, adding that he had been doing it “wrong” for 22 years and that the adjustment wasn’t easy. That sort of candor is relatively rare, and raised eyebrows, but Bradley said this week he liked hearing it. “He’s strong and I think it shows a sense of strength,” Bradley said.
10. Joeckel and Brewster are healthy. Left tackle
11. Training camp is going to be important for the receivers. That was true anyway, but with rookies
12. We got us a battle… Once the pads go on in training camp, there could be a few competitions. Otto linebacker with
14…. And Marcedes is, too. … and so is tight end
15. Youth could be served. The team liked a lot of young players in OTAs and minicamp: defensive tackle
16. Etc., etc. OK, etc., etc., isn’t really a What We Learned category, but we’re wrapping things for the offseason. The team didn’t just like the undrafted rookies. It liked, too, what it saw from players such as Joeckel, Henne, Brewster, defensive tackle