If you watched the Jaguars 32-35 overtime, pre-season defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills last night, you’re probably as disappointed as I am at a few things that happened in the game. I know the knee-jerk reaction is to panic, but that’s not necessary. Let’s take a step back, and look at exactly what went wrong on Saturday night.
The broadcasting crew, at least where I was watching it, was a Bills crew, and they were some of the worst broadcasters I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing. I just want to point out that the pass interference that set up a Jaguars’ touchdown was PI because the defender stuck his arm at as an arm-bar, blocking the receiver from making a play on the ball. It was the right call, but the commentators never picked up on that. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the Jaguars.
First, let’s start on the offensive side of the ball. I was very disappointed with the first team offense, the second team offense, and any other team offense for the Jaguars. 32 points is nothing to sneeze at, but as with many pre-season numbers, it’s a little misleading (i.e. 7 of those points came off a pick-six).
David Garrard was inaccurate, partially due to a solid pass rush brought on by the Bills’ defense. Garrard often was either taking sacks, throwing the ball away, or overthrowing deep touchdown passes. For all the concerns about his consistency, he’s been extremely consistent the entire pre-season, unfortunately; he’s been consistently poor.
Blaine Gabbert wasn’t much better. He, like Garrard, spent a lot of time getting hit and throwing poor passes. He did have an awesome touchdown pass that was nothing short of perfect, but he also overthrew a sure touchdown in the game. Cecil Shorts III didn’t help him in over time as Shorts couldn’t find a ball in the air that hit the ground just in front and to the left of him. The only positive thing is that we can say that not everyone played for the offense. Maurice Jones-Drew and Eben Britton didn’t play.
The defensive side of the ball wasn’t much better; forfeiting 35 points to the Buffalo Bills is something I wouldn’t talk about, ever. To be fair, the Jaguars were missing 3 potential starters on the defensive line, but that doesn’t excuse defenders from getting burnt up and down the field all night. For everything they did well against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, they were equally as poor against the Bills.
The biggest story for the defense, once again, will be the pass rush or lack thereof. The defense generated some pressure at time, but it wasn’t nearly enough to force the Bills’ quarterbacks into bad decisions. Tyler Thigpen’s two interceptions were simply terrible passes. He had no business throwing either of them, and they were the result of poor decision making, not the pass rush.
I don’t think any of us would say the Bills, Jaguars pre-season game was a step forward, and I’ll be interested to see who plays, and for how long they play, in the fourth and final pre-season game next week against the Rams. I think the team is on the rise, but it’s also in a transitional phase, so hopefully; these types of performances are just growing pains and not the norm.