JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 27-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016 Preseason Week 2 Saturday
1.The Jaguars may have a running game at long last. There have been many positives for the first-team offense through two preseason games, but that may be the biggest. The Jaguars ran effectively in the preseason opener against the Jets, then followed that with an impressive run-heavy drive on the second possession against the Buccaneers Saturday. The Jaguars drove 58 yards on six plays on that drive, scoring on a 14-yard pass from Bortles to running back T.J. Yeldon. But the drive was keyed by solid run-blocking and two rushes for 12 yards by Chris Ivory and a 10-yard run over the left side of the line by Yeldon. The Jaguars entered the preseason wanting to establish the run. So far, so good.
2.This offense is decisive. It's hard to overstate how good the offense has looked early in the preseason. As good statistically as the unit was last season, it didn't often take over games – and it had particular issues in the first quarter. That led to offseason focus on starting fast. The first-team offense has had four extended drives on five preseason possessions with the lone exception being the first drive of the game Saturday when it started 1st-and-21 from their 11. The starting offense has dictated tempo on four of their first five possessions, and there couldn't be a better sign for this team.
3.Sen'Derrick Marks looks good. When training camp began, it was fair to wonder about the future of the Jaguars' veteran defensive tackle. He not only sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the 2014 season finale, he missed the final seven games of last season with a torn triceps. That's two serious injuries in back-to-back seasons. Marks didn't look quite like his former self early in training camp, but he said early this week he was 100 percent healthy. He looked it in practice against the Buccaneers this past week and had a dominant stretch late in the first quarter Saturday. If he's the 2014 version of Marks, this line is that much deeper – and better.
1.Jalen Ramsey is better than I thought. I went to Tallahassee for his Pro Day in March and was impressed with his skill set against the pass. That was confirmed on the practice field this summer. I couldn't and hadn't seen him step up in run support, but he was outstanding on Saturday –
posting three tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage, including a beauty that dropped a Bucs running back for a two-yard loss. He's big, strong, long – and plays with great awareness and intensity. Don't get me wrong, I knew he was good … but I didn't know – because I hadn't seen – that he was going to be this complete of a player this suddenly. He's going to be a star.
2.The Jaguars' offense has so many players they can roll out in waves. In the first half Blake Bortles targeted Marqise Lee, Blake Bortles, Blake Bortles and handed off to Chris Ivory, threw to TJ Yeldon –and we didn't see Marcedes Lewis or Blake Bortles or Rashad Greene. Offensive coordinator Greg Olsen has so many chances to play "the mad scientist" that it makes my head spin. One example is the deep ball with about 10 minutes to play in the half when Bucs corner Brent Grimes knocked away the pass intended for Robinson. Grimes clearly saw Bortles off the play action drop deep into the pocket and found Robinson. Bortles finished 8 of 11 passing with two touchdowns – including a dandy toss to Allen Hurns — for a passer rating of 134.5. Think he likes all the waves of weapons rolling onto the field? Yes. He most certainly does.
3.I hate to harp on penalties but 10 in the first half against Tampa? The Jaguars had four in the first four minutes and 17 seconds of the first quarter – on Telvin Smith Sr., Johnathan Cyprien, Gus Bradley and Mackenzie Bernadeau … they have to clean things up and there are only two more pre-season games – one more for the guys we expect to start Week 1 against the Packers. They don't have as much time as you might think. Bradley must have seethed when flag after flag went against his team. The Jets and Bucs by the way were only flagged five times through the first six quarters for a ratio of nearly four to one per quarter thus far. The numbers pretty much say it all.