JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I was surprised by Gus Bradley’s upbeat mood after the game Sunday night against Cincinnati. Sure, the second and third teams were competitive and won the game in the end but the starters looked miserable in the first half. Bradley is a very positive coach, so I asked him if it might be a good thing to have two weeks before they play for real with this kind of performance fresh in their minds.
“Right. And that’s what I think for us these experiences we go through, for us the offense especially gets punched in the mouth, we got their attention the next 10 days. We definitely got their attention now about how important everything counts,” Bradley said in his post-game press conference. “ Blake said it too, ‘Come on, Gus. One more series.’ I said, ‘What a great lesson for you to say every series is so important because you don’t know when it’s your last one, how many you have left, so you really got to take advantage of it.’ So I mean there’ll be a bunch of lessons and we definitely got their attention.”
That might be a bit of a rosy outlook for a team that was just manhandled in the first half by an admittedly solid Bengals squad. Besides being physically outmatched, the Jaguars looked slow and out of sync compared to their first two-preseason games.
In the post-game locker room there wasn’t any panic but each player echoed what Safety Tashaun Gipson said about not performing.
“All of our starters were out there this game, we had a week of preparation, we just didn’t go out and execute at times,” the veteran safety explained. “But at times it looked right and that’s what you want, to be more consistent, but moving forward we shouldn’t panic by any means.”
We got our first look at Kelvin Beachum at left tackle. He played the expected number of snaps and seems poised to start at that spot when the season begins. It wasn’t pretty by any means on offense in the first half but Beachum is looking forward.
“It’s the preseason,” he said in front of his locker. “You have to take that into account. At the same time, you can’t make excuses about the situation. You’ve got to find a way to make plays and do what we do best.”
While Luke Joeckel earned praise for his play at left tackle in the first two preseason games, he was moved to guard beside Beachum with the first team against Cincinnati. He was tripped on one play that was replayed by NBC and didn’t appear to have the same success he enjoyed the first couple of weeks. The coaches have noted that Joeckel has taken the move to guard seriously if that’s where he’s asked to play, but Luke is still competing in his mind for the left tackle spot.
“I’m definitely more comfortable at tackle, that’s where I’ve played my entire life, but I’ve got to get more comfortable at guard and when I’m in there I’ve got to be the best guard I can be,” Joeckel said, reflecting what the coaches have talked about when it comes to his dedication. “There are no excuses; I’ve got to keep getting reps and get more comfortable quickly, but I expect more of myself so I’ll go back and look at tape.”
We saw Myles Jack with the first team, a plan the coaches had before the game, trying to get him reps with the “ones” to see how he responded as well as putting him in all kinds of down and distance situations. He’s an athlete, he’s going to be a good player but for now, he’s a rookie. The good thing is, he knows it.
“With this being my first season I really don’t know what’s going on but I’m looking at every game is the biggest and most important game of our life,” he said post-game with a smile. “So the games are preseason in everybody else’s eyes but it’s a game to show, that’s how I’m trying to treat it and that’s how I have been treating it.”
Wanting to be great is part of the ingredients a player needs to be great and Jack certainly has that. Believe it or not, not every player has that same desire. It would be easy to call it luck for the Jaguars but that’s part of their vetting process before they sign or draft a player. General Manager Dave Caldwell and Bradley are looking for guys who love the game and want to play at a high level.
Bradley said he’s responsible for Hayes Pullard not reporting on the TD catch and you could say he’s dealing with a lot of young players who are learning how to be professionals. That’s the case with Dante Fowler, who was flagged for being on the field after Pullard’s TD and has a youthful exuberance that the team is trying to channel into production on the field. They even asked Fowler to concentrate on being more of a “professional” this week, watching more film, meeting with coaches and being mentally prepared.
“Yeah, he did. He responded really well,” Bradley said when asked if Fowler embraced that kind of coaching. “I think the big thing with Dante is just his conditioning. We got him in there some screen and then we set up for him to see some run series that he would go in there.”
Here’s the Jaguars press release on reducing the roster to 78 players. They need to be down to 75 by tomorrow at 4. The only surprise name is McCray. Both Ficken and Quigley were auditioning Sunday night for everybody else in the league.
The Jaguars waived the following eight players: fourth-year LB Joplo Bartu, third-year WR Shaq Evans, first-year K Sam Ficken, rookie CB Mike Hilton, first-year RB Cameron Marshall, fourth-year CB Demetrius McCray, fourth-year P Ryan Quigley and rookie WR Jamal Robinson.
The Jaguars placed seventh-year OL Jeff Linkenbach (concussion) on the team’s reserve/injured list.
The Jaguars assigned the reserve/physically unable to perform designation to third-year OL Luke Bowanko (hip) and rookie DL Jonathan Woodard (achilles). Players assigned the reserve/physically unable to perform designation do not count against the team’s active roster and can return to practice any time between Week 6 and Week 11 and then have a 21-day window before they must be moved to the active roster, kept on the team’s reserve/physically unable to perform list or waived.
The Jaguars waived/injured third-year S Earl Wolff (hamstring). Wolff will revert to the team’s injured reserve list if he clears waivers.