JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars opened the preseason Thursday night in New England with a 31-24 win over the Patriots. We had five big questions heading into the game, and we were given a few answers.
1. How does Cam Robinson do against the Patriots defensive linemen and outside linebackers? While Robinson didn't face the best pass rushers the Patriots had to offer, he looked good in both pass protection and as a run blocker. Only once did he get pushed back and while he didn't spend much time pancaking defenders, he did open up some holes, especially for Leonard Fournette.
2. Does Fournette continue to look the part? The word that most defines Fournette's pre-season debut is "decisive." It doesn't take the rookie long to identify the hole and hit it. I have covered some running backs who had great instincts while running between the tackles (Marcus Allen was one of the best, and when at his best, Natrone Means showed good feel), but Fournette looks so natural running the ball that it is easy to imagine how he will develop into a "bell cow" running back who can carry the load for the Jaguars. Fournette finished with 9 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown. He also took the first step in defining the new smash-mouth personality of the Jaguars offense.
3. How will Blake Bortles Play? Bortles was fine. Not bad, not great, but fine. He wasn't helped by a Rashad Greene drop on third down that prematurely ended the Jaguars first drive. Bortles finished 3/5 for 16 yards. If he plays that way all game, the Jaguars can win some games. It was fine.
4. Can the Jaguars generate any kind of pass rush? Yes. It started early with Yannick Nkogoue who picked up a sack and created one for Telvin Smith. The Jaguars got some pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. Lerentee McCray recorded a sack in the second half. The caveat here is that it did not come against Tom Brady or the Patriots regular starting left tackle Nate Solder.
5. Even with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks held out, do the Patriots carve up the Jaguars defense? It wasn't the passing game that gave the Jaguars the most trouble, although Garoppolo did look sharp in a late first half drive. The running game and short passing game found holes in the Jaguars defense. The Patriots had runs of 12, 14 and 24 yards against the Jaguars