JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Sunday’s scrimmage now complete, the Jaguars turn their attention to the next phase of camp: the preseason games.
Saturday when the Browns come to town, we’ll see the Jaguars against another team for the first time in this new era. Here’s what I’ve seen so far.
Let’s start with Trevor Lawrence. He is as good as anticipated so far. That doesn’t mean we should be fitting him for a gold jacket just yet, but there has been nothing to indicate that he isn’t going to be a very good quarterback pretty quickly. During the scrimmage, Lawrence threw a couple of touchdowns in situational 11-on-11 work.
One capped a 99-yard drive. The other came in the two-minute drill. Rookies performing well in situational drills is a very good sign, especially if it carries over to the preseason games, and then to the regular season. Keep an eye on Lawrence during Saturday’s game on third down, in the red zone, and at the end of the half.
I’ve been surprised how hands-on the first-time NFL head coach has been in practices. He has taken his mantra to “Own it” to a new level. He’s out there coaching fundamentals during drills. He’s pulling players aside to talk to them far more than most NFL head coaches I’ve covered. He has shown the kind of maniacal focus that you see in coaches like Bill Belichick and Jon Gruden. That’s not the only way to win, of course, but Meyer has it.
Meyer has also implemented some coaching tactics he used in college, like “winner/loser day” to promote competition. It seems to have been received well by the team. I’m not sure if a roster full of crusty veterans would have the same response, but you can only coach the players you have, and Meyer is doing it well. Then again, there hasn’t been much adversity for him to overcome. Let’s see what happens as the games begin and the cuts approach. He’s never had to cut a roster, and this figures to be a challenging time for Meyer, as it is for most coaches.
As for Tim Tebow, he hasn’t looked like a fish out of water, but I haven’t been blown away. He’s a guy trying to make the roster right now. It’s a great story and if his name wasn’t Tim Tebow you probably wouldn’t think much of the fifth tight end on a roster — or whatever he is. But it is Tebow. I need to see more.
Tebow’s catches haven’t scored high on the beauty scale, but he’s caught most of the passes thrown to him. He hasn’t looked very sudden in his route running and he’ll likely have to rely more on his feel for the game and his strength to create space as a receiver. I’m curious to see if Meyer is going to use Tebow in any non-traditional ways during the preseason. Will he line him up in the wildcat on a short-yardage situation? Will he let Tebow throw a pass or use him on some gadget plays? It’s worth keeping an eye on during the preseason games.
The Jaguars’ roster
I think there are still some holes on the roster. The tight end room can be better. I think the offensive line is still a work in progress and we don’t know how all of the pieces will fit together on offense, but so far, it looks like a competitive NFL team out there.
The wildcard position is at cornerback. There have been reports that the Jaguars are shopping second-year corner C.J. Henderson. Tyson Campbell has looked good so far in his rookie training camp and the Jaguars expect Shaquill Griffin to be their best cornerback after signing him from Seattle in free agency. Those two, along with Sidney Jones and Tre Herndon, appear to be the top four corners if Henderson is not in the mix. It’s a position group that could wind up looking very different than it appeared at the end of the disastrous 2020 season.
We’ll learn more once they start hitting guys in different jerseys on Saturday.