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First Off the Field: Jaguars 16, Buccaneers 10

Posted Aug 8, 2014

The Jacksonville Jaguars defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win their first preseason game of 2014.


JACKSONVILLE – This was what they envisioned in the offseason.

That sentence refers to a rebuilt, revamped, reenergized defense. For the Jaguars, that – and, oh yes, the debut of quarterback Blake Bortles – was the story of the 2014 preseason opener.

The Jaguars beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 16-10, at EverBank Field on Friday night in front of an announced 59,100. They took their final lead on a 26-yard touchdown run by running back Denard Robinson with 6:27 remaining, but while an injured Jaguars offense struggled early, the same was not true of the defense.

Actually, the opposite was true.

The Jaguars’ first-team defense held the Buccaneers scoreless and gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead when safety Winston Guy returned a first-quarter interception 68 yards for a touchdown. The defensive effort helped the Jaguars lead after the first quarter when most of the defensive starters left the game.

“We are really jelling together as a defense and it’s fun to see,” Guy said at halftime with the Jaguars leading 7-3. “We have some new pieces, but we’re all just trying to get better every day and continue to improve. I’m excited to see what can do moving forward.”

As for Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft entered the game to an ovation with 9:51 remaining in the second quarter.

He gave fans plenty to cheer after that, too.

Bortles, who entered the game in place of starter Chad Henne, didn’t lead the Jaguars to a touchdown, but he looked poised and accurate, completing seven of 11 passes for 117 yards. He was three of six in the first half for 55 yards, with two passes dropped by normally sure-handed wide receiver Mike Brown.

Bortles also led an impressive,  nine-play, 75-yard drive to start the second half that ended with a 26-yard field goal by Kasey Redfern that made it 10-3, Jaguars, with 4:04 remaining in the third quarter.

Henne, who the Jaguars have said will start into the regular season and beyond, completed four of seven passes for 30 yards.

Henne played exclusively with the first-team offense, with Bortles playing exclusively with the second-team offense. Henne played mostly against the Buccaneers’ first-team defense, with Bortles playing mostly against the Buccaneers’ second-team unit.

“Sometimes with offense, you have to execute the precision game,” Bradley said after a scoreless first-half offensively. “Sometimes it takes some time. We just have to keep working.”

Guy caught an errant pass from Buccaneers quarterback Luke McCown on the run and returned it down the left sideline for the touchdown with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter. That highlighted a dominant first quarter for the Jaguars’ defense.

“That’s our thing coming in,” said Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who was credited with a first-quarter pressure and forced fumble. “We just wanted to see how we jelled throughout the whole training camp and just see how the guys bonded together. I think we did a really well.  We can still improve, but what we did is something to grow on.”

The Buccaneers cut the lead to 7-3 with a field goal by Connor Barth with 9:51 remaining in the second quarter, but the Jaguars’ defense remained strong throughout the first half.

“It was good,” Bradley said of the defensive effort. “We really wanted to have the ability to contain the run and I thought we did a good job of that. Then we wanted to see our four-man rush and were able to get some pressure. It’s still early but that consistent play showed up though.”

The Buccaneers tied the game, 10-10, on a six-yard pass from Mike Glennon to Tommy Streeter in the fourth quarter.

TURNING POINT

The turning point for the Jaguars’ defense came early, when it set the tone for the night on its first series. Defensive end Ryan Davis got pressure twice, and Marks was close to unblockable, as the Jaguars forced a three-and-out. The first-team defensive line never let up and as a result, the Jaguars were in control throughout the first half.

HIGHLIGHTS

1. Marks dominated early, as did Davis. Marks got consistent pressure early, and Davis twice drew penalties pass-rushing on the Buccaneers’ first series. The Jaguars got good pressure from a three-Leo defensive end package featuring Davis, Andre Branch and Chris Clemons. “That’s how we want to get on the field,” Marks said. “I’ve heard that we’ve wanted to get four LEOs on the field.”

2. Clemons, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Seattle in the offseason, registered a sack midway through the first quarter.

3. Defensive end Tyson Alualu, playing with the second-team behind starter Red Bryant, had a sack/fumble early in the first quarter, continuing an impressive training camp.

 

LOOKING ON . . .

1. The Jaguars began the preseason searching for the ideal combination on the interior of the offensive line. While unrestricted free-agent Zane Beadles is locked in at left guard, the team worked Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon and rookie Brandon Linder at right guard and center Friday. Linder appears to have the edge at right guard, having worked with the starters extensively there in practice in recent days. Brewster worked at center to start the game with McClendon at right guard. McClendon moved to center later with Linder at right guard.

2. The Jaguars’ first-team defense allowed one first down and 15 total yards, for the most part leaving the game after Guy’s interception return for a touchdown on the Buccaneers’ third series.

3. Rookie running back Storm Johnson played as the backup behind Jordan Todman, who was starting for injured starter Toby Gerhart. Johnson, a seventh-round selection from Central Florida, rushed for 21 yards on nine carries.

 

INJURY WATCH

Jaguars cornerback Will Blackmon sustained a shoulder injury in the first half, but returned. Wide receiver Lamaar Thomas also took a blow to the head in the second half.

Thomas was being evaluated for a concussion late in the fourth quarter.

The Jaguars played Friday without starting wide receiver Cecil Shorts III and Gerhart. Shorts missed with a hamstring injury, and Gerhart missed with a hip flexor.

Starting cornerback Alan Ball, who spent the first week and a half of training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list with an ankle injury, did not play, nor did reserve safety Sherrod Martin.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring), tight end Brandon Barden, wide receiver Tandon Doss (ankle), linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring), tight end Clay Harbor (calf) also did not play against the Buccaneers. Linebacker Dekoda Watson remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a sports hernia injury, while rookie cornerback Aaron Colvin (knee) remains on the reserve/non-football injury list. Wide receiver Ace Sanders remains out of training camp addressing personal issues.

With Shorts and Robinson unavailable, veteran Mike Brown and rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns were the first three receivers Friday, and Jordan Todman started in place of Gerhart. Second-year veteran LaRoy Reynolds started at the Otto linebacker position with Watson out.

Second-year veteran Demetrius McCray started in place of Ball.

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