JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' 24-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers in 2017 Preseason Week 3 Thursday – with an eye on HC Doug Marrone's thoughts on the night
"A LOT OF WORK AHEAD OF US"
Doug Marrone talked quarterbacks, as expected.
But the Jaguars' head coach talked about a lot of other topics following a second consecutive preseason home loss Thursday, too. Most centered on a common theme.
"We've got a lot of work ahead of us," Marrone said.
Marrone said he hadn't yet made a decision on starting quarterback between Chad Henne and Blake Bortles, and he offered no timeline on when a decision could be made. He also said he hadn't ruled out either or both playing in the preseason finale at Atlanta Thursday.
Starters and front-line players usual do not play in preseason Week 4.
Marrone emphasized during his post-game press conference that neither quarterback was helped much Thursday by the Jaguars' offensive line. He mentioned sacks allowed and penalties committed by the unit, as well as "too many tackles for loss in the run game."
Marrone kept the Jaguars' starters in the game with Henne throughout the first half, and he played the starting offensive line until Bortles left the game with a series remaining. Making the quarterback competition as equitable as possible was one reason for playing the first-team line, Marrone said.
He also said it wasn't the only one.
"I thought that we've had two rough games now," Marrone said. "We played [the starters] a lot tonight. The main reason was because of the quarterback situation, but the other reason is they need that work, too. I don't want to lose sight of that, to make it like they were just in there for the [quarterback]. We've got to get our work done, and they've got to continue to work."
The Jaguars' defense allowed a 75-yard touchdown on the game's first series, the only series on which Carolina quarterback Cam Newton played. The defense allowed the rest of the Panthers' first-team offense just a field goal the rest of the first half.
The Jaguars' first-team offense struggled much of the first half, with 51 of the team's 137 first-half yards coming on a 51-yard run on a fake punt by running back Corey Grant.
"We've got time ahead of us, just like I told the team," Marrone said. "I just told them that in the locker room. There are a lot of things we've got to clean up. There ars some good spots, but overall consistency …
"We have some time and we've got three good practices coming up this week, and we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Bortles spoke to the media following Thursday's game, and discussed his approach this week in the wake of losing his hold on the starting quarterback job he held since Week 4 of his 2014 rookie season. Marrone had told Bortles and Henne following last week's loss to Tampa Bay that the quarterback position was "up for grabs," of which Bortles said "I don't know if it can get any worse than that. As a quarterback in the NFL, that's probably the last thing you want to hear. I think you can roll over and lay down or you can keep working, grinding and trying to win that spot back. So, you have two options and I think you pick one and you go." He added, "It's tough. I think you're getting dealt a certain hand and it's your decision and you chose to do what you want with it. You can put your head down and continue to work and continue to fight and go out and play. Make each rep you get in practice as meaningful as possible."
Rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook missed Thursday with what Marrone said was a lower body injury. Westbrook, a fourth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, caught six passes for 131 yards in the fourth quarter of the loss to Tampa Bay last Thursday. "He went out there pregame and worked out and was a little sore," Marrone said. "We don't want to make it something where he's out for a long time. He worked out pregame, came in and we made a decision of not playing him."
"We got to do better starting as a defense. We want to start the game, we want to be the first ones out to set the tone for the game and we can't give up seven points. It's football so we have to hold them to three [points]. It's a part of football and that first drive and as defensive unit we have to figure out how to bring more intensity."
--Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell
"Coach Marrone said it right away: We can't come out and let a team march down the field like that. We need to come out and play fast right out of the gate. That was very disappointing for our defense. We need to fix that. That's something that should not happen. So whatever it is that we're doing wrong, or playing hesitant, that needs to be completely squared away for Week 1."
--Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny
"Who knows what the decision will be? I don't think there's a big difference; I mean both of these guys (Henne and Bortles) have been here since I've been here and they're pros, so who knows?"
--Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson