The Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Baltimore Ravens on August 23, by a score of 48-17. That fact is utterly irrelevant and means nothing. Just like the Jaguars' preseason wins were meaningless, their loss is meaningless.
Here is what does matter from the third preseason game.
Justin Blackmon is a Beast
There's little question that Justin Blackmon is the best offensive player for the Jaguars right now, and it's not close.
Watching this guy catch the ball and run in traffic, you get a sense for just how special his hands are. Anytime you see a rookie wideout look physically imposing against the Ravens' defense, you know you have something special.
Honestly, I learned almost nothing from this game that I didn't already know about the Jaguars, except that it framed Blackmon's skill better.
He's going to be a monster, and probably already is.
Blaine Gabbert is an Improved Quarterback
I saw the same things on display against Baltimore that I saw from Gabbert against the Saints. There is absolutely no question that he will not be the cataclysm that he was in 2011. He's just flat out better.
He hangs in the pocket. He makes reads. He's clearly improved.
There is a huge difference between improved and good, however. Yes, there are the occasional breakdowns and back-foot throws, but those don't worry me. What does concern me is that he's not accurate in the intermediate-range passing game.
My observation that Gabbert stuck to short throws against the Saints has nothing to do with deep balls. I don't worry that he's not chucking up 30-yard bombs. What he has yet to show is the ability to regularly hit 12- to 20-yard passes.
The Jags opened up the mid-range game for this contest, and unless Blackmon was the target, Gabbert just wasn't able to hit open players.
There's a long way to go from "better" to "good," and Gabbert isn't there. There's no question that there's real, tangible hope for his career that didn't exist before, but Jaguars fans need to be realistic about how long the journey will take.
I don't know that he will get there, but it's clear he might, and that's a major step forward.
Defense Shows What Was Missing
I'll let you in on a secret: I hate trying to evaluate defenses in the preseason. For one, teams rarely run their true scheme. They also freely substitute in backups and regularly sit veterans.
The Jaguars' starters gave up 13 points in the first half, and another seven in the third quarter, but by that point it's difficult to tell just how many starters are playing.
I saw a defense that was hard-hitting and had some dynamic plays mixed in. The overall performance was nothing to worry about.
In all, I thought they looked a little better than they did against New Orleans, even though the results were slightly worse.
That's preseason football.
Take it for what it's worth: nothing.
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