EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the Jaguars' 22-12 loss to the New York Giants Saturday in the second game of the 2015 preseason …
1)A solid start.We begin Preseason Week 2 takeaways with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley talking about the early stages of a 22-12 loss to the New York Giants Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jaguars led 9-3 when the first-team offense left with about eight minutes remaining in the first half. Not only had the offensive line pass- and run-blocked well, quarterback Blake Bortles had looked efficient with 98 yards on 8-of-16 passing. The first-team offense's three drives took 10, 10 and 12 plays and resulted in three field goals. "The defense played pretty good, too," Bradley said. "When the offense can take that much time off the clock and control the ball and keep the defense fresh, you can see we have a chance to do some pretty good things. That part, I was very pleased with." Bradley said the original idea was for the first-team offense to play all or most of the first half, but the extended drives allowed the group to leave early. "We were looking at the offense getting 30-to-35 plays," Bradley said. "By the start of the second quarter, they had their limit. It gave us an opportunity to get the second-team offense in there in the second quarter. It was good to get those guys a lot of reps, maybe more than they anticipated."
2)Long, long injury list.The Jaguars' list of injuries was long Friday, with a few of significance. Offensive tackle Josh Wells sustained a dislocated thumb, with wide receiver Arrelious Benn sustaining a broken clavicle, cornerback Demetrius McCray sustaining a right knee contusion, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds sustaining an apparent medical collateral ligament sprain, linebacker Khairi Fortt sustaining a meniscus injury and wide receiver Damian Copeland sustaining a dislocated right shoulder. Benn had played his way into the top four or five wide receivers and Reynolds is one of the team's top special teams players. "There was some adversity in there in the second half, with some of those younger guys playing," Bradley said. "There were some challenges. Through some injuries some guys had to step up and play multiple positions, but that takes place in the game."
Check out first half images from the Jaguars second preseason game against the New York Giants
3)A step forward.If there is an area other than Bortles under scrutiny for the Jaguars in the preseason, it's the offensive line. As was the case with Bortles, this area passed the eye test for a second consecutive week. Bortles had ample time to throw, and the Jaguars rushed effectively early. "It's doing a good job," Bradley said. "It's continuing to do what we'd hoped in preseason. We'll see more blitz packages and things like that in the regular season. Still, I think it's going a nice job." Bradley said the offensive line did a nice job with communication picking up a couple of early blitzes. "It was awesome," Bradley said. Stefen Wisniewski started over Luke Bowanko at center after Bowanko started in the preseason opener. The two have been competing for the starting center position throughout camp. "We're getting closer," Bradley said. "Let's evaluate the tape. We said we would like to maybe have an idea after this game, so we'll take a look at it and see."
4) Poised and effective.Don't simply look at Bortles' statistics after this one. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 98 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions in three series. But he looked good in a lot of the same areas as he did against the Steelers in the preseason opener – and a few drops hurt his statistics for a second consecutive week. Bortles' deep pass to wide receiver Allen Hurns late in the first quarter would have been a 40-yard gain had Hurns made a difficult-but-makeable catch. Wide receiver Allen Robinson caught three passes for 64 yards but had a drop on what could have been a 20-yard, second-quarter gain. Bortles afterward lauded the line, blaming himself for a first-quarter sack that resulted in a gain of no yards. Bortles said he should have gotten rid of the ball more quickly on the play.
Check out second half images from the Jaguars preseason game against the New York Giants.
5) Pressure needed.The Jaguars' pass rush was a significant storyline entering the game, with the first-team unit generating little pressure in a preseason opener played without the entire starting line. Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee) and end Chris Clemons remained out Friday, with tackle Roy Miller and end Jared Odrick playing for the first time this preseason. The defense again got limited pressure early, forcing Manning into several incompletions with Leo Ryan Davis and Odrick breaking up passes at the line. That got the Giants' first-team offense off the field, but the pass rush will continue to be a storyline for this defense. "You can never have enough rushers," Bradley said. "When you get Clemons back – hopefully this week, we'll start to see him involved and get our pass rush going. On third downs, we have some things where we can get some pressure. It's that first and second down … can we get that pressure on base downs?"