Jacksonville Jaguars: What We've Learned Through Week 3 of Preseason
The beauty of the preseason is getting to watch players develop and work in a limited-risk situation. Some players rise and some fall, but at the end of the day, you learn a lot about a team.
This is all true for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite a 1-2 record, the Jaguars have actually played quite well. Sure, there are some players who haven’t lived up to expectations, but on the other hand, there are some players who are really surprising.
Beyond all of the headlines and excitement, we’re really starting to see that this can be a competitive team in 2014. We’re also learning a lot about which players are going to play big roles in the future of the franchise.
After three weeks, things are getting clearer in Jacksonville. Let’s take a look at what we learned this week about the Jaguars.
Allen Hurns Was a Bargain
There hasn’t been a more unexpected or pleasant surprise than undrafted rookie receiver Allen Hurns this preseason.
Hurns is currently leading the NFL in receiving during the preseason with 230 yards, he’s second in receptions with 13, and he is averaging 17.7 yards per catch. What’s most impressive is that he’s done this while working with the first-team offense.
Hurns has made the most out of his opportunity and is making it tough for the coaching staff. Despite drafting two young receivers in Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, Hurns is proving that he’s deserving of a big role in the offense.
The Florida Times-Union’s Hays Carlyon is reporting that Hurns is already making a move up the depth chart and has developed a good relationship with rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. Carlyon quoted Bortles raving about the young receiver.
“He’s an unbelievable player,” Bortles said after the game. “He shows up day in and day out in practice—smart kid, works hard and does what’s asked of him. He’s become a reliable target.”
If Bortles and Hurns continue this chemistry, they’ll be exciting to watch grow over the upcoming years.
Marqise Lee Looks Timid
It’s been a roller-coaster preseason for Marqise Lee. First, per Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports, he was criticized by Jaguars’ head coach Gus Bradley for his effort, but then he rebounded in the second game with a touchdown catch.
The third preseason game was much of the same for Lee.
Lee looked timid with the ball after the Jaguars tried to get him involved early. The first two passes of the game were short passes to Lee, but once he caught the ball, he looked hesitant and afraid to engage defenders.
In college, Lee always displayed a confidence that made him the best player on the field, but in the NFL, it seems like he’s being held back by something. The Jaguars drafted him in hopes that he could be a playmaking receiver, but at this point, he’s only raised questions.
Let’s hope Lee gets some of his explosiveness back soon, or he could see his starting spot disappear.
Blake Bortles Is the Future
If anyone questioned the Jaguars for selecting Blake Bortles third overall in the NFL draft, those questions have undoubtedly been answered.
Moreover, Bortles has looked like an experienced veteran on the field. He has incredible pocket presence, he’s a strong thrower on the run, and he’s tough enough to stand tall in the pocket and deliver accurate passes.
While there is still development to be had, Bortles has played exceptionally well with both the first- and second-team offenses. Despite the fact that Chad Henne remains this team’s starter, it won’t be long before Bortles takes that role.
Mike Brewster Is Falling from Grace
Before the season started, there was a feeling that second-year offensive lineman Mike Brewster was a shoo-in to start at center. Now, three weeks into the preseason, things have changed drastically.
After Brewster botched two snaps and whiffed on a few blocks in the first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, questions started to surround his job security.
Meanwhile, Brewster has been primarily relegated to playing offensive guard with the second and third teams, and it appears his roster spot may be in jeopardy after all.
The Running Game Is a Big Concern
For a team that employs a balanced offensive attack, there is a lot of concern at the running back position.
The Jaguars brought in Toby Gerhart to be their workhorse running back, but after two games, he’s averaging a mere 3.2 yards per carry. The hope was that Gerhart would come in with low mileage after sitting behind Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, and that he’d be a big lift for an offensive unit that relies heavily on the run.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet.
As a team, none of the running backs are really standing out, and I believe that’s cause for concern. If things don’t start picking up for the position group, I’m afraid the offense as a whole will be in danger of struggling this season.
All stats are courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.