Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions: Jaguars Preseason Week 3 Game Preview
Despite the loss, the Jaguars put on an impressive display. Quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Chad Henne were absolutely brilliant, and the defense held a very explosive Bears offense in check.
At home, the Lions will offer the Jaguars a similar challenge compared to last week.
The Lions field an explosive offense headlined by receiver Calvin Johnson, veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford and rookie tight end Eric Ebron. It will be a test for the defense to contain this unit, but it will also provide us a great barometer as to where this defense stands in comparison to the elite offenses in the league.
Overall, we’ll be watching for some specific things from this team: Can the offense continue to evolve with Toby Gerhart providing balance in the running game? Can Dwayne Gratz match up with arguably the best receiver in the league? Will the offensive line be able to contain one of the best pass rushes in the league?
This will serve as an important matchup for the Jaguars and will give us all a better idea of what to expect in the regular season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Preseason Week 2 Recap
Last week, the Jaguars played an impressive game against the Chicago Bears. Despite losing 20-19, the Jaguars’ first- and second-team units were near dominant, outscoring the Bears 19-7 in the first three quarters.
The Jaguars offense, led by Chad Henne and Blake Bortles, produced 393 total yards. Bortles and Henne combined for 290 yards while completing 23 passes over 34 attempts. The offense also got big production from rookie receiver Allen Hurns (four receptions, 74 yards) and Denard Robinson (six carriers, 34 yards).
On defense Telvin Smith and Dwayne Gratz led the Jaguars. While Smith didn’t show up big on the stat sheet, he was all over the field and tipped a pass that resulted in an interception. The Jaguars were able to keep receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey to 28 total receiving yards on five targets.
Overall, the Jaguars put on a strong performance that was only outdone by a meltdown by the third-team defense and an untimely interception by rookie quarterback Stephen Morris.
If this is the Jaguars team we can expect to see this season, it’s going to be a fun ride.
News and Notes
Cecil Shorts Could Return
The return of receiver Cecil Shorts from a hamstring injury will certainly be a welcomed sight for Jaguars fans. Shorts has easily been the most productive receiver on the team over the past two years and should play a big role in the offense again this season.
Shorts’ return will take some pressure of Marqise Lee, who has been handling the top-receiver duties recently. Lee will now be a complement to Shorts—a duo that could be very dangerous.
Blake Bortles to See Action with the 1st Team
Bortles has become must-see television during the preseason, as he’s completed 18 passes on 28 attempts for 277 yards on 55 offensive snaps. For a rookie, Bortles is already exceeding expectations and looks NFL-ready.
Beyond the numbers, Bortles is a poised quarterback who seems to have natural leadership ability. The opportunity he’s going to receive this week to play with the starting unit could catapult him into the starting lineup sooner than projected.
Calvin Johnson Will Return to Face Jaguars
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that receiver Calvin Johnson could play on Friday against the Jaguars. The Detroit Lions coaching staff has been cautious with Calvin Johnson this preseason as he returns from offseason knee and finger surgeries.
Johnson is consistently amongst the best receivers in the league. His combination of size, speed and physicality make him a matchup nightmare. He’ll definitely add a dangerous dynamic for the offense and will serve as a major challenge for a young Jaguars defense.
*Injury statuses are current as of August 17, 2014, and are courtesy of Jaguars.com’s John Oehser’s practice reports. As the game draws nearer, I will be updating the injury report, so check back with us!
Matchups to Watch
Dwayne Gratz vs. Calvin Johnson
Against Calvin Johnson, Gratz faces his biggest challenge. A strong showing against arguably the best receiver in the league would solidify Gratz as one of the up-and-coming young defensive backs in the league.
Jaguars’ Interior Offensive Line vs. Lions Defensive Line
One of the biggest questions for the Jaguars this offseason has been regarding the offensive line. After two preseason games, there is still uncertainty at the starting right-guard and center positions.
Mike Brewster was considered to be the guy at center, but after mishandling two shotgun snaps and looking overmatched against defenders, he’s opened the door for competition. Now Jacques McClendon will get his shot to start alongside rookie Brandon Linder.
These two inexperienced players will be against elite defensive linemen in Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairly and Ezekiel Ansah. It will be worth watching how these two units match up as the Jaguars seek their future starters.
Blake Bortles with 1st-Team Offense
The Jaguars have been adamant about sitting Bortles during his rookie season, but his play thus far may force their hand.
Bortles has looked like a seasoned veteran so far. He has great pocket presence and shown some excellent touch on his passes. Considering his development, a strong outing with the first-team offense could force the coaching staff to start him.
This matchup could be very dangerous for the Jaguars. The Lions field an offense that could easily be among the best in the league. Defensively, they have a disruptive defensive line that could wreak havoc against the Jaguars’ struggling offensive line.
For the Jaguars, the key to the game will be on the defensive side of the ball. If the defensive line can consistently pressure Matthew Stafford and the secondary can contain Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, the Jaguars will have an opportunity to win.
Prediction: Lions 24, Jaguars 17