JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' Preseason Week 3 victory over Cincinnati – with an eye on Head Coach Gus Bradley's thoughts on first-half adversity and the second-half rally
JAGUARS 26, BENGALS 21
There were plenty of concerns Sunday, and Gus Bradley acknowledged a few.
The Jaguars' head coach following a 26-21 Preseason Week 3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals talked about missed tackles on defense, and he talked about getting "punched in the mouth" early. He said without question the Jaguars faced adversity Sunday night.
But while there was disappointment around the first half, Bradley said there were good things about the second half.
It wasn't enough to define the game, but it was worth noting.
"We didn't come out like we wanted to," Bradley said. "Give credit to this team, the resiliency and the grit that they have. They fought back, made some plays, two-point plays and really caught on. That was great to see from the second and third groups."
The Bengals outgained the Jaguars 163-90 in the first half, pushing a 14-3 halftime lead to 21-3 with a 21-yard third-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback A.J. McCarron to wide receiver Alex Erickson. The Jaguars rallied with the game's final 19 points.
"To be able to come in after a game like that and have a win, it's awesome," Bradley said. "So we'll learn from this. This experience we went through, we got great aspirations and this will only help us."
The Jaguars' first unit played only through halftime and did not return for the third quarter. Teams often play starters into the third period in Preseason Week 3,
"We talked about trying to get between 30 and 35 plays," Bradley said. "That's what we had. We felt like that was the play count that we wanted so we just stuck to it."
Bradley also said the Jaguars tackling overall for the game was "sloppy," calling it an area that must improve.
"We didn't wrap up … shoulder tackling," he said. "We need to work on that."
Bradley for the most part Sunday game emphasized the opportunity to learn from adversity after having played well in the first two preseason games.
"There will be speed bumps, there is no doubt," Bradley said. "To me, it is a challenge to this team and now let's see how we respond. If it is anything like we responded in the second half, where we came out down 21-3 and came back and ended up winning the game … well, this team has that make up.
"They are a very resilient team, so now we have to call on those character traits to come through for us in the next ten days or so."
The game marked the Jaguars debut of Kelvin Beachum, who started at left tackle with Luke Joeckel starting at left guard. Either Beachum or Joeckel are expected to start at left tackle with the other at left guard – though Joeckel struggled at times in his first NFL start at guard on Sunday after playing well at tackle in the first two preseason games. "I didn't get a chance to really evaluate it," Bradley said of Beachum's performance. "I'll be able to give you a better evaluation after we watch it." Bradley said the plan is to hold starters out of Thursday's preseason finale against Atlanta, meaning Sunday's game could be the last for Joeckel and Beachum before Week 1 against Green Bay. "I don't know," Bradley said when asked if Beachum or Joeckel could play Thursday. "Let's take a look at the film and see where they're at." …
… AND ALSO NOTABLE
Rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue started ahead of second-year veteran Dante Fowler Jr. at Leo Sunday. Bradley said the move was to get Ngakoue repetitions with the first-team defense. "Yannick had eight reps in base in the first two preseason games so we just felt like we needed to get him in more reps in base and just to see," Bradley said. "In practice, we thought he was doing a pretty good job versus the run, but we just needed to see more reps of him against base personnel."
"The coaching staff and front office aren't panicking, but at the same time being a competitor with all the buzz we definitely wanted to put our best foot forward. I think every guy in here, especially on the defensive side of the ball, can say that we didn't go out there and play to our expectations."
---S Tashaun Gipson
"We just weren't on the same page. We were just sloppy. We're just going to get better and watch film."
---Jaguars C Brandon Linder
"I'm definitely more comfortable at tackle; that's where I've played my entire life. But I've got to get more comfortable at guard and when I'm in there, I've got to be the best guard I can be. There are no excuses; I've got to keep getting reps and get more comfortable quickly."
Photos from the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars in week three of the preseason.