JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned about the Jaguars during three dual practices and a preseason game against New England this week …
1.Blake Bortles is …well, it's tough to say what we learned this week about the Jaguars' quarterback. He's not Tom Brady, but who is? We do know Bortles still must make strides. He threw just one interception all week, and continued to show good accuracy down the sidelines. But he struggled in 11-on-11 work Tuesday, and doesn't seem to be throwing with confidence at times. He played just two series with five attempts Thursday. To say he needs to improve is a tired old record at this point, but it's a record that must be played.
2.Leonard Fournette is the real deal …The Jaguars' rookie wasn't spectacular Thursday, but he was really good and showed what he has shown through training camp – the skill to be a big-time NFL running back. He said after the game the speed didn't overwhelm him. That was obvious watching. So is this: he belongs.
Images from the first preseason game as the Jaguars faced off with the Patriots.
3. … and the Jaguars are going to use him.The run game looked better with Fournette in the game. The line looked better and the runs were getting finished. He ran four consecutive plays on his first series, with one run going for eight yards on fourth and one. Get used to that.
4.Myles Jack is still progressing.This is to be expected; the transition from strong side to middle linebacker isn't easy. Jack appeared to play well in nickel situations Thursday, but is adjusting in the base defense. "It was OK," he said. "I missed way too many tackles. I'm not satisfied; I still have a ways to go. I'm going to continue working."
5.Patrick Omameh is the starting left guard (almost certainly) … Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone twice in the last week praised Omameh – and twice in the last week all but said Omameh will be the Jaguars' starting left guard. Marrone doesn't want to name him the starter yet, but that's almost certainly coming.
6. … and Cam Robinson is the starting left tackle.Marrone hasn't named Robinson the Week 1 starter either, but this trend is clear, too. The rookie second-round selection looked very strong against the Patriots Thursday and played deep into the second quarter.
7.Dante Fowler Jr. still has learning to do.The Jaguars' defensive end was twice dismissed from the field in Tuesday's dual practice – once for a face-mask penalty and once for over-jawing with Patriots players. Focus is the key for Fowler; as of this week at least, it remained an issue.
8.Marqise Lee has a chance at a big season …Lee stood out early in training camp, and the dual practices against New England were no different. All signs point to fourth-year wide receiver having his best NFL season.
9. … and so does Yannick Ngakoue …The second-year defensive end stood out among the Jaguars' edge rushers this week, pressuring Brady for what likely would have been multiple sacks in Monday's dual practice. He also had a sack and a pressure Thursday. Ngakoue's desire and work ethic are tireless, and he's determined to turn himself into one of the NFL's better pass rushers. He's trending in that direction.
10. … and so does Allen Robinson.The fourth-year wide receiver was a star of the first 10 days of camp. He and the Jaguars' offense didn't shine as brightly in Foxboro as they did in Jacksonville, but Robinson's offseason improvement is evident. If Bortles is accurate and efficient, Robinson and Lee can have big seasons.
11.Defensive tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback A.J. Bouye are front-line players.The Jaguars' major unrestricted free agent signings from 2016 and 2017, respectively, Jackson and Bouye have stood out early in camp. They stood out in Foxboro, too, with Jackson consistently effective against the Patriots' front and Bouye solid in coverage before leaving Tuesday's practice with an undisclosed injury.
12.The rookie class looks strong.Robinson looked good at tackle Thursday, and Fournette looked good at running back. Fourth-round wide receiver Dede Westbrook caught a 42-yard touchdown pass, and the Jaguars like what they see from rookie defensive end Dawuane Smoot. So far so good for the '17 draft class.
13.The Jaguars have work to do.This shouldn't be surprising – and it doesn't surprise Marrone – but the Jaguars aren't yet elite. They weren't consistent enough against the Patriots in practice this week, and Marrone said that's an obvious focus going forward. Overall, even with Thursday's victory, this is clearly a team that has work to do. As expected.