EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – What Gus Bradley wanted was a step forward.
And while the final score again was not what the Jaguars wanted, Bradley – in his first season as the Jaguars' head coach – said there was a lot to like in the second game of the 2013 preseason, particularly early.
So, will Bradley take what he saw in 37-13 loss to the New York Jets Saturday?
All in all, yes he will.
"We're trying to figure out what our personality is going to be once we get into the regular season," Bradley said after the Jaguars' second loss in as many preseason games. "This was a good step."
Bradley said he liked that the Jaguars got their first experience on the road, and he liked that quarterback Blaine Gabbert had a quick start, leading two early scoring drives before leaving the game midway through the second quarter after playing three series.
Gabbert sustained a sprained right thumb during his final play but was going to leave the game at that point anyway.
Bradley said initially he didn't believe Gabbert's injury to be serious.
The Jaguars outgained the Jets, 222-157 in the first half and led at halftime, 13-10. The Jets finished with a 408-286 edge in total yards.
"I thought the offense did a nice job with tempo," Bradley said. "We've talked about being a team that can change the tempo of a game and the tempo of our offense by series. I thought we did a nice job in the first half."
Gabbert completed 13 of 16 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.
"He did a nice job," Bradley said. "A lot of credit goes to the offensive staff."
Bradley also said the defense recovered from a rough early start, allowing two first-half scoring drives but stopping the Jets in the red zone later in the second quarter when cornerback Marcus Trufant intercepted Mark Sanchez in the end zone.
"We got punched in the mouth, but what I liked is we came back," Bradley said.
The Jaguars committed 12 penalties for 100 yards and committed three turnovers that led directly to 14 Jets points. They committed four turnovers in the preseason opener.
"With our second and third group, we have to learn how to finish," Bradley said. "We had far too many penalties – far too many penalties. That was an emphasis this week. But I think we have to reemphasize it."
Gabbert sustained a sprained right thumb shortly before leaving the game.
Gabbert, competing with Chad Henne for the Jaguars' starting quarterback competition, left the game on schedule midway through the second quarter, and immediately iced the thumb.
X-Rays were negative, Bradley said.
"We'll evaluate it tomorrow to see where he's at," Bradley said.
Gabbert said he had his thumb "bent back a bit," and that he was unsure of the seriousness of the injury.
"It was unfortunate, but it's part of the game," Gabbert said, speaking in the postgame locker room while wearing a brace on his right hand. "We'll see (Sunday) what the deal is and move on. I just dinged it up a little it and we'll know more (Sunday)."
Gabbert said he didn't know if he could have returned.
"I didn't really push it," Gabbert said. "I was coming out after that series anyway. It was more precautionary: ice it and alleviate some of the swelling."
MOJO SEZ **
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew got done what he wanted.
Jones-Drew played for the first time this preseason Saturday night. The plan called for him to play about 8-to-10 plays, and he played seven on the Jaguars' first series.
"That's what we wanted to see," Bradley said.
Jones-Drew rushed three times for nine yards on the series and caught a 20-yard pass as the Jaguars drove for their first touchdown of the preseason.
"It felt great," Jones-Drew said. "We have to be a little more patient in the running game, but for the most part, things went well. Now, we just have to move forward."
- Bradley: "I love how we're competing. We came back and we made some plays."
- Gabbert: "It was nice to have them back, especially Jones-Drew in the backfield and Justin Blackmon outside. It adds another dimension to our offense but when we have guys like that who can come in and make plays on a consistent basis it makes my job a lot easier."
- Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe: "We got some tempo going. That's something we wanted to do, and we accomplished that. We also had a spot where we had way too many setbacks. We have to eliminate that."
- Center Brad Meester: "We got off to a good start. We wanted to push the tempo. The Jets do a lot of crazy defenses. That's their style. We wanted to keep them out of that, and I thought we did that."
The Jaguars will play host to the Philadelphia Eagles at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.