JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the past week around the Jaguars – and from Thursday's 17-13 preseason-opening loss to the New York Jets …
1.Allen Robinson is good – really good.If there is something we have learned beyond doubt after two weeks of camp and one preseason game, it's this: Robinson's 2015 Pro Bowl season was no fluke, and he actually appears improved. He caught three passes for 89 yards in two first-quarter series and each catch seemed more impressive than the last. We're running out of ways to say it, but he looks on his way to being the Jaguars' first truly elite-level player in a long time.
2.Blake Bortles really is a gamer.Remember? Last week? The angst over Bortles' interceptions in practice? The concern over a not-so-great scrimmage at EverBank Field? It all seemed a bit silly after Bortles went 6-of-7 for 105 yards in two series Thursday. The only incompletion was a dropped would-be touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas. One preseason game doesn't make Bortles a finished product, but it does make all of that concern over a few practice interceptions seem a bit silly.
3.Bortles has a chance to be efficient …Two preseason series doesn't mean Bortles has made all of the strides he must make. He still must prove throughout the regular season that he's reducing interceptions, making better decisions and throwing with more accuracy. But his start on Thursday was encouraging – a lot of good decisions and good accuracy. It was just a start for the third-year quarterback, but it was a good start.
4. … and the Jaguars' offense does, too.* *Accuracy from Bortles. Big plays from Robinson and Allen Hurns. An effective running game. No turnovers. That's the formula the Jaguars need to improve from a big-play offense to an efficient, winning one. As is the case with Bortles, Thursday was just a start for this offense – but that start was encouraging.
5.Kelvin Beachum is still an unknown and therefore …Beachum, who will compete with Luke Joeckel for the starting left tackle job, hasn't practiced in more than a week. That's not completely unexpected or alarming for a player who missed the last 10 games of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but the reality is Beachum has yet to work full contact this training camp.
6. …left tackle is still an unknown, too.This falls under the category of "What We Didn't Learn," because after Preseason Week 1 who will start at left tackle in the regular-season opener is still unknown. Beachum still appears likely to start the opener at left tackle if healthy, but Joeckel worked exclusively at left tackle Thursday after playing both tackle and guard throughout camp. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Friday Joeckel looked improved at the spot. What does Thursday's game mean for the left-tackle competition? Stay tuned.
7.Myles Jack keeps getting better and better. He's playing faster and looking more comfortable. One the rookie linebacker full grasps the offense, he figures to be special. And fast.
8.The right side of the line looks strong.The Jaguars feel confident in the right side of the offensive line. It was easy to see why on Thursday. Running behind right tackle Jermey Parnell and right guard A.J. Cann worked well enough Thursday that it was easy to forget this was a team that struggled to run when it needed to run last season.
9.The running game appears capable.Unrestricted free agent Chris Ivory rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on six carries and second-year veteran T.J. Yeldon rushed for 24 yards on four carries. More than numbers, the Jaguars' run offense looked the part. There were holes through which to run, and the backs ran effectively – with Ivory scoring from a yard out on 2nd-and-goal late in the first quarter. If the Jaguars get this kind of performance in the regular season this offense can make a needed jump in efficiency.
10.Marqise Lee is a storyline for a reason.The third-year wide receiver again showed his potential to be a big-play player for this team. He showed few if any aftereffects from a first-week absence from practice because of a hamstring injury. If he can give the offense some of the pop he gave it Thursday that's a big wrinkle for that unit.
Images from the Jaguars first preseason game against the Jets.
11.There's a lot of work to do.Thursday was far from a perfect performance. Too many penalties and a defensive lapse late in the first quarter by the first-team unit. They're fixable mistakes, and the focus is sure to be on those areas with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to Jacksonville for a pair of practices this week.