Mark Brunell: Even in preseason, a win is important

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before I go on and on about how impressed I was about the win against the Patriots, I want you to know that I haven’t lost my mind. I do realize it was only the first preseason game. I do realize that not one starter played for the Patriots.  And I’m convinced that even if we win every preseason game, there is still a long way to go. 

But last night we won a football game.  And for a team that isn't used to winning, it was a very good night.  I had an opportunity to sit down with Head Coach Doug Marrone before the game and he said the No. 1 goal was to win.

“If they’re gonna keep score, we might as well try to win,”  he said.

Even in preseason getting a win is important.

So, what was good about last night?  Let's start with the player who has a lot of people concerned.  Blake Bortles.  Nothing impressive on the stat sheet. Three of 5 for 16 yards.  But Blake played well in the few snaps he got. 

Marrone said he wanted to see two things from his quarterback; take care of the ball and be accurate with the ball.  That was Blake against the Pats.  I thought every decision he made in the passing game was good.  He was accurate. He was efficient. Its a very good start for our QB.  Now its time to build on that. 

I told him after the game, “You didn’t even break a sweat tonight did you?"  He said, “Nope.”

Let's talk Leonard Fournette.  Just watching practices over the last couple weeks, I knew No. 27 could be good.  After watching how he played last night, I’m convinced he can be REAL good.  He ran with power, he ran with authority.  He wasn’t trying to run around defenders, he was trying to run over them. 

There is no doubt who is going to carry the load in our running game this season.  And nobody is more excited about him than Blake.  A quarterbacks best friend is a strong running game.  It simply keeps you from being one-dimensional and takes a lot of pressure off the passing game.  I couldn’t be more excited about our 1st round draft pick this year.

How about the explosive plays on offense by our backups?  Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook with big touchdown receptions.  Corey Grant with a huge 79 yard run for a score.  We might actually have some depth this year on our roster.  I expect Tom Coughlin and Marrone are going to have some tough decisions to make when it comes down to the last cut.  Good problem to have.

Ok, so last night wasn’t all perfect.  There were certainly some things that need to be cleaned up.  That's always the case in the first preseason game. 

I didn’t think we tackled very well. Before the game, Marrone said that was what he wanted to see most from his defense. What's concerning about that is we had a tough time tackling New England's backups. If you can’t tackle a backup, how can you tackle a starter? That will be a focus for the defense this next week in camp.

I also thought the defense did a good job putting pressure on the Patriot quarterbacks last night.  Three sacks.  A few times we forced Jimmy Garoppolo out of the pocket and were close to getting more.  A few times he had all the time in the world.

Room for improvement but not a bad start. For our team to take the next step, we have to be able to get to the quarterback.  Trust me, it makes a difference. 

All in all, it was a good night.  Our QB was sharp.  We got to see the next great Jaguar running back for the first time.  And we won.  I’ll take it.  On to the Buccaneers.