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Jaguars Impressed in Preseason Finale | Quick Thoughts

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 31-18 victory over the Miami Dolphins in a 2023 Preseason Week 3 game at EverBank Stadium Saturday

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…

1. Really good signs on offense. Forget the score. The most important Jaguars takeaway from Preseason Week 3 is that an offense expected to define this team this season looked every bit as expected in its most extensive work leading to the regular season. The unit played two series, producing 12 first downs and 168 yards, with rookie running back Tank Bigsby's lost fumble at the Dolphins 2 on the first drive resulting in a touchback and preventing essentially a perfect performance by the first-team offense. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed eight of 10 passes for 92 yards, spreading his passes between multiple offensive weapons including wide receivers Zay Jones, Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley. Ridley caught a 28-yard pass from Lawrence to set up a touchdown to cap the second drive. As importantly, the Jaguars ran effectively with Bigsby rushing six times for 37 yards, and starter Travis Etienne Jr. rushing eight times for 39 yards and a three-yard touchdown. The touchdown ended the night for the starters with 9:15 remaining in the half. Pederson said afterward he planned to play the starters for a half, but the performance was enough that he pulled them after two series. It was the right time for their night to end. They had nothing left to show. They're ready.

2. Depth, depth, depth. The Jaguars' first-team offense being impressive was important Saturday, and the performance of the running game could mean a versatility that even the team's closest observers didn't quite anticipate. But what shouldn't be overlooked as the preseason ends is the significant improvement in the Jaguars' depth – and talent level – over the past two offseasons/seasons. The Jaguars went 3-0 in the 2023 preseason – and while the starters were impressive in essentially five series, the second and third teams also played well in all three games. The Jaguars look deep along the offensive line, and at running back and receiver. They also got impressive performances throughout the preseason from multiple members of the 2023 draft class: Bigsby, pass rusher Yasir Abdullah, tight end Brenton Strange and offensive tackle Anton Harrison. This team is keyed by Lawrence and a potentially elite group of skill players. But it goes deeper than that. That's a huge change in two years.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

QB Trevor Lawrence (16)

Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …

1. The Jaguars wanted a clean game from the offense and that's what they got. They opened with back-to-back 12-play drives and four red-zone trips resulted in two touchdowns, a field goal and Bigsby's fumble. Lawrence was sharp, Ridley looked like we hoped and the offensive line created holes in the running game. That game met the coach's collective definition of clean.

2. I expect the Jaguars to err on the side of youth as often as possible over the next few days. They won't take a lesser player because he is cheaper, but if all things are equal, this team needs to manage the salary cap in a very disciplined way. That lends itself to young and less expensive. The Jaguars got a lot of production from their 13-player draft class during the preseason. Those are guys who replenish the roster and offer the salary flexibility that will allow them to pay important players such as Lawrence, cornerback Tyson Campbell and Ridley.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

WR Calvin Ridley (0)

Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...

1. Abrupt finish. Saturday's game ended with 8:35 remaining. Dolphins wide receiver Daewood Davis was taken from the field on a stretcher after sustaining what looked to be a serious injury. Pederson and Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel were quick to come together to discuss ending the game. Pederson said he made the decision in the best interest of his team. He noted that he felt his players were distracted by this and that he puts player safety above all else. This is the second NFL preseason game in 2023 to be called early. The New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers ended their preseason game last week after Patriots cornerback Isaiah Bolden sustained a head injury.

2. Preseason perfection. While it's not about the final score, the Jaguars impressed in the preseason finale. Other than Bigsby's fumble, the starting offense had its way with Miami's defense. The play of the game was Ridley's tip-toe catch along the sideline to set up Etienne's touchdown. The Jaguars offense in full form will be must-watch TV this season.

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