FOXBORO, Mass. – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' 31-24 victory over the New England Patriots in 2017 Preseason Week 1 Thursday – with an eye on HC Doug Marrone's thoughts on the night
Jaguars Head Doug Marrone thanked the Patriots once again.
This week for the Jaguars was about improving, growing and learning – and competing against the defending Super Bowl champions for three days may have meant as much anything that happened in a 31-24 preseason-opening victory over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium Thursday.
"I really thought we were able to get better," Marrone said. "We're working our way to become a better football team, a winning football team, but we have a long way to go. …
"At the end of the day, you just know that, 'Hey, listen it's just the beginning.' It's always good to win no matter what you do, but we still have a long way to go and we've got to be ready to go back to work and keep building on these experiences from these two practices that we had and this first preseason game."
Marrone, in his first game since taking over as the Jaguars' head coach on a permanent basis in January, said he liked that it was a clean game for the Jaguars. They committed just five penalties with no turnovers.
"That's something we on our players about, putting yourself in position where you could lose the game," Marrone said. "We had no turnovers, which is something that has hurt our football team in the past. So that's been a big concentration for us, something we've put a lot of emphasis on."
Marrone said he liked the big plays from the Jaguars' offense. They scored on a 97-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Chad Henne to reserve wide receiver Keelan Cole in the second quarter, and reserve running back Corey Grant's 79-yard touchdown run gave the Jaguars a third-quarter lead they never relinquished.
Marrone also said the Jaguars struggled tackling defensively early.
"Obviously we've got to do a better job of lining up," he said.
Thursday marked the first NFL performance for Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. He rushed for 31 yards on nine first-half carries, rotating in the first half with veteran Chris Ivory. "It's a lot slower than I thought," Fournette said. "A lot of people said it was going to be fast, but playing in the SEC, I think that really helped me out." Fournette scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. "It was an honor," Fournette said. "I didn't know I was getting the ball until the huddle. That's one of the best feelings knowing your team has confidence in you. When I scored, I just turned around and thanked my offensive line. They did a great job for me, without them I wouldn't have scored."
"It was good. It was good to get out there in a live game situation with the crowd and play real football. It's been a long time since we've been able to do that. I thought we did some good things in a short period of time. As a whole, the offense did some good stuff."
--Quarterback Blake Bortles
"Anytime they are keeping score you want to win, whether it's the preseason or the regular season. Obviously, we know the difference, but it's an opportunity and preparation for getting ourselves ready to go Week 1, so I think it's definitely a step in the right direction."
Images from the first preseason game as the Jaguars faced off with the Patriots.
"It was fun. A lot of good plays and a lot of bad plays and definitely some things to correct. We set a goal to get a win and we came up here and we got that win. Some guys made some great plays, which is always nice. That [the Patriots] is a good football team."
--Defensive end Calais Campbell
"It was ok. I missed way too many tackles. I still have a lot of work to do. I'm not satisfied; I still have a ways to go. I'm going to continue working. We have another game next week and I'm excited."
--Jaguars linebacker Myles jack
*Jack made his first NFL start at middle linebacker, staying in for several series after most of the team's starters left following the Patriots' second series. Members of the first-team defensive line also played into the second quarter with second- and first-teamers – including defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. – rotating much of the first half. ...
*Several members of the first-team offensive line also got extended work after other starters left, including guard A.J. Cann, guard Patrick Omameh and rookie Cam Robinson.
*The Jaguars got both of their top two running backs extensive work early, with Chris Ivory playing the first and third series and Fournette playing the second and fourth series. …