EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' preseason-opening 17-13 loss to the New York Jets with an eye on Head Coach Gus Bradley's thoughts on the defense and special teams
Jets 17, Jaguars 13
As far as starts went, Gus Bradley said Thursday was a good one. But that didn't mean the Jaguars' fourth-year head coach loved everything about a 17-13 loss to the New York Jets in the 2016 preseason opener. Not at all.
While the Jaguars' first-team offense scored on their first two possessions, the special teams struggled in kickoff coverage and the team as a whole committed 12 penalties for 132 yards. There were also some early and late lapses defensively that Bradley mentioned prominently afterward.
"The message to the team when you look back at it was: discipline and fundamentals," Bradley said. Bradley said the team entered the game with a basic game plan, wanting to work on fundamental play. He was unhappy with what he called sloppiness on defense and in coverage units.
"It was the first time we really covered live like that and they had some big plays," Bradley said of a Jets kickoff return team that produced first-half returns of 51 and 84 yards. "They had some good returns on us. We have to get that cleaned up."
Bradley also said he was pleased overall with the play of rookie linebacker Myles Jack, who played with the second-team defense and played throughout the second quarter and into the third quarter.
"For him personally, I saw him stay aggressive and that was great," Bradley said.
The Jaguars' first-team defense forced a three-and-out on the Jets' first possession, but allowed a four-play, 75-yard drive on the second possession that ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Bilal Powell. That drive was keyed by back-to-back passes of 26 and 43 yards from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to wide receiver Quincy Enunwa.
"We'll take a close look at it because it was the same thing twice," Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said, adding of the game overall, "It was OK. The fact that we gave up a couple of big plays early – not happy about that. It was the same thing twice, so we'll look at it and correct it."
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, center Brandon Linder and safety Tashaun Gipson were among 12 Jaguars players who didn't play in the preseason opener. Bradley said all three of those players likely would have played had it been a regular-season game. Players sustaining injuries against the Jets included cornerback Aaron Colvin (right ankle sprain) and strong safety James Sample (arm stinger).
Wide receiver Tony Washington was examined for a concussion, but was cleared to return.
"For us, I think it is about us owning the offense and honing into our assignments. For us, it is about knowing what we want to get accomplished – and that is starting fast. That is making sure we are familiar with our plays and assignments and communicating." ---Jaguars WR Allen Robinson on starting fast
"He's unbelievable. He has a mind and a motor that doesn't stop and even though he put up good numbers last year, he is going to continue to work his tail off and wants to be better each and every year. He is a guy you love playing with and I definitely love to throw it to him because he is a playmaker." ---QB Blake Bortles on Robinson
"I was pleased with how the first group came in and executed offensively. Defensively, we talk about 'Don't guess, don't overanalyze, just do your job.' We guessed a couple of plays and they had big plays on us. After that, I thought we settled down with our first unit." ---Bradley on the first quarter overall
Wide receiver Marqise Lee not only played in the preseason opener after missing much of the first week of training camp with a hamstring injury, he looked healthy and comfortable – catching four passes for 49 yards. One of the receptions was an athletic reception down the right sideline for a 19-yard gain on a pass from backup quarterback Chad Henne. "It was really good to see," Bradley said. "He appeared to play really fast." Said Lee, "I felt good. I was super-relaxed – and healthy. I didn't feel my hammy. I didn't feel anything. I felt good out there, and that was the biggest thing for me."
… ALSO NOTABLE
The Jaguars emerged from the preseason opener pleased overall with the running game. Chris Ivory rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on six first-quarter carries and T.J. Yeldon rushed for 24 yards on four first-quarter carries. "It was cool to see the run-game flowing like that and that is what we want to do," Bortles said. "We want to try to run outside zone and get that rolling and do everything off of that. I think the guys up front did a great job and Chris and T.J. ran the crap out of the ball." Said Bradley, "It was a good measuring stick to where we're at right now."
*The word is there's no reason to panic over the absence of Ramsey, Gipson and Linder in the preseason opener. While fans eagerly anticipate preseason games, teams approach the preseason opener and finale at something just above practice mode. The decision to hold out the trip was purely precautionary with the idea that both players have three more preseason games to prepare for the regular season.
*It's not as if it's a surprise, but if there was one overriding takeaway from Thursday's game it's that Robinson is developing into an elite wide receiver. His ability to win 50-50 balls is as good as any receiver in the NFL and something in which Bortles clearly as full confidence. Robinson has looked throughout training camp significantly improved from his Pro Bowl season last season – and he verified that in the first preseason game. The Jaguars have waited a long time for an elite wide receiver. The wait is over.
Images from the Jaguars first preseason game against the Jets.