The preseason has gone well for the Jaguars. Very well.
That has little to do with the team being 2-0, and a whole lot to do with the first-team units playing very, very well and doing what the coaching staff wants them to do.
The Baltimore Ravens. This is a team that came within a few points and a few minutes of the Super Bowl a year ago. The Jaguars will play starters deep into the third quarter, so it will be a good gauge of just where the team stands as the regular season approaches.
So, here are 10 things the Jaguars must do in the third preseason game:
10) Cut down penalties.There has been a euphoric feeling around this Jaguars. Within this team, the feeling is good, too. The direction is strong. Things are working. But there are areas to be improved. One of those areas is penalties: 18 for 160 yards so far in two preseason games. Mike Mularkey knows that's too many, so that's an area of focus.
9) Improve tackling.The defense has been good. There is faith around the building that will continue to be the case, but there have been too many missed tackles. This is the last time the starters will play extensively before the regular season, so this is the time to clean that up.
8) Cover kicks.This area hasn't been great. That's understandable, because there are new, young faces on special teams. Bryan Anger and Josh Scobee give you a chance to be a great special teams, but you have to back them up.
7) Stay within the offense.So far, the offense has worked without forcing the ball to any particular receiver, and without really forcing anything at all. Keep doing that, and everyone will get their opportunities.
6) Keep running.As good as the passing game has looked, this team has shown once again it can run the ball. It may even be better now in that area than it was this time last year. With the passing offense looking promising, that will make the run game even more of a weapon. The passing game must maintain its growth, but for now, it needs the run game, too.
5) Keep Gabbert going. **For two weeks, he hasn't had to defend himself, and there actually has been some praise coming his way. That doesn't matter much. What does matter is he's improving, and you want to see that trend continue.
4) Stay healthy.This, above all else, is what matters in the preseason now.
3) Stop Ray Rice.The Jaguars stopped him last season. If the Jaguars do it again Thursday, they'll have a chance to do what they want to do well this preseason – rush the quarterback.
2) Get him in, get him out.Cornerback Rashean Mathis is playing for the first time since knee surgery last season. He has looked good in practice, and will want to play extensively. No reason to let him to do that. Get him in, get him some snaps and confidence, then get him out. You know what he can do.
1) Maintain momentum. The Jaguars have it. The vibe is good. If they put in a good three quarters Thursday, the preseason is a success whatever the final week brings.