MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 2019 Preseason Week 3 game Thursday against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
1.Josh Allen … wow. While much focus of Preseason Week 3 understandably was on quarterback Nick Foles and the first-team offense, Allen was unquestionably the Jaguars’ star of this game. Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, got his first chance to work with the rest of the starting defense Thursday – and he showed the kind of impact he can make. The rookie edge rusher opened the game with a pressure on Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that forced an incomplete pass, and he finished with at least four quarterback pressures and two tackles for loss. Allen ended the Dolphins’ second series by shedding a block from Dolphins tight end Dwayne Allen and tackling running back Kalen Ballage for a five-yard loss on third down to force a punt. He later had a three-yard tackle for a loss on a swing pass and a quarterback pressure that led to a sack by defensive end Dawuane Smoot. Not every Top 10 selection shows immediate difference-making ability. It’s a phenomenally good sign for the Jaguars’ defense that Allen through three preseason games is doing just that.
2.The Jaguars saw enough from the defense to feel good. Thursday was the only time this preseason the entire Jaguars starting offense or starting defense will play, and coaches must feel good about what they saw defensively. Not only did the rookie Top 10 selection continue his preseason trend of looking like a future star, the first-team defense as a whole dominated the Dolphins’ offense. The Jaguars’ starters left after the first quarter, having allowed just 10 total yards on 14 plays. One area of concern: second-year defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who continued an inconsistent preseason by being called twice for roughing the passer. But that’s a minor blip of what for the Jaguars was a very encouraging night for the first-team defense. It’s no surprise that the Jaguars should be dominant defensively. But it’s not a bad thing to see proof of it in the only preseason game in which the starters will play.
Images from the third preseason game as the Dolphins host the Jaguars.
3.The Jaguars saw enough offensively to feel OK. The first-team offense wasn’t close to perfect Thursday, but perfection wasn’t the goal. The goal was to get the first-team offensive line, Foles and a bunch of other front-line players a chance to work together for the first time – and to get at least some success before shutting down for the preseason and beginning to prepare for the September 8 regular-season opener against Kansas City. Mission accomplished. Don’t worry about the first two three-and-out drives; that was the first live action for a group that never had played together. The Jaguars drove 75 yards for a touchdown on their third series, with Foles capping the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook. That doesn’t make this offense elite, but it was enough to build a ton of confidence for the regular season. The line for the most part protected Foles. And running back Leonard Fournette ran hard on a couple of first-quarter gains. An interception on Foles’ final pass wasn’t the best way to end this brief look, but there was enough good from this offense Thursday to counteract the bad.
1.Josh Allen looked like Jevon Kearse against Miami...a FREAK. No one could handle the rookie from Kentucky as he crashed down on running backs in the backfield, attacked the quarterback to force quick and errant throws, made plays against the run down the line and dropped into the flat in coverage on the running back. I know Nick Foles is THE big story in Jacksonville right now and will be 1a all season long, but Allen falling to the Jaguars on Draft Day is 1b. He gives defensive coordinator Todd Wash an entirely different playbook to call from and with the talent all around him, it will be hard for offensive coordinators to isolate him. Allen is an every down defensive end with an explosive pass rush and he’s going to make life really difficult for quarterbacks right away.
2.It took a few plays but offensive coordinator John DeFilippo found a way to get Leonard Fournette running downhill on the Dolphins. It was clear early on that the short passing attack was both a way to get the ball in his hands AND a way to back defenders out of the box. In his two professional seasons I’m not sure Fournette has ever seen only seven defenders in his face. He’s big, powerful, faster than you think and if he gets rolling he’s a guy no defensive back and only a few linebackers can bring down. He isn’t as effective when he’s handed the ball behind the line of scrimmage and asked to build up a head of steam in just a few steps so it will be interesting to see how many ways DeFilippo can find to get him the ball when he’s already moving.
3. Tonight was the first look at the offensive line that the Jaguars hope to start the season with. I thought Cam Robinson looked a bit rusty but it shouldn’t take him long to get his football legs back underneath him. He is massive and athletic and plays with the kind of nasty streak that was missing last season. Rookie Jawaan Taylor looked like he belonged with a strong punch and better feet than he had been given credit for in college. I think he might be the most talented offensive lineman of the bunch, just the least experienced. The only hiccup among that first group was Will Richardson Jr who had a couple of false starts and looked a little lost working with that first group. Shouldn’t be a problem, they can go back to AJ Cann until he’s ready to go. The offensive line is hard to tell without watching the tape but it looked like they gave Foles time to throw and that’s the big story in Jacksonville this year isn’t it?