Jacksonville Jaguars' Biggest Preseason Disappointments
The preseason is over, and for the Jacksonville Jaguars, things could not have gone much better. Their defense has had an effective pass rush, and their offense has been efficient moving the ball. The Jaguars had a lot of optimism going into the preseason, and it seems it was well placed.
The Jaguars have had numerous players step up and play well beyond expectations. Quarterback Blake Bortles started off the preseason expecting to sit behind Chad Henne for the duration of the season. Four successful games later, Bortles has made a strong case for starting the regular-season opener. Similarly, undrafted rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns led all receivers in yards during the preseason.
However, there are some players who haven't lived up to expectations. Some of these players were expected to have a large impact this season, leading to even more concerns over their lack of production thus far. These players have just one more week until the opener and need all the time they can get to turn their fortunes around.
Marcel Jensen, Tight End
Marcel Jensen is an undrafted rookie out of Fresno State who was the talk of minicamp and OTAs. Despite being raw as a receiver, the Jaguars could see what kind of potential he had and decided to take a chance on him.
Early on, it looked like the gamble paid off with head coach Gus Bradley saying, "We knew he had athleticism to be able to catch the ball. ... Some of the skills we saw on tape are what we are starting to see now."
It looked as if Jensen could be an eventual successor to Clay Harbor and maybe even Marcedes Lewis. However, the hype train came to an abrupt stop once the preseason rolled around.
Jensen was all but invisible for the first three games, logging just two receptions for 20 yards. He bounced back a bit more in the final game, hauling in four receptions for 36 yards, but it does little to help him save face. He was unable to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Harbor's injury.
Jensen will still likely make the roster as the third tight end, but the coaching staff has to be hoping Harbor comes back quickly from injury. He will have to prove that he is not just a practice hero but is someone who can contribute if the Jaguars need him to. Until then, the depth at tight end is a concern.
Jordan Todman, Running Back
Jordan Todman came into this offseason attempting to hold off Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson for the backup running back spot, and he did look to have the advantage in training camp.
Todman was showing good burst and speed, with head coach Gus Bradley saying, "You’re seeing him break some. The other day he had one where he broke and you saw him accelerate. Today he had another one, and I think that’s what we’re counting on him for—to give that changeup, that burst that we know he has."
Unfortunately, it was downhill from there for Todman. He finished the preseason with 29 carries for 63 yards (2.2 yards per carry). His best performance came against the Atlanta Falcons in the last game of the preseason when he still managed only 37 yards on 11 carries for a 3.4 YPC average.
Like Jensen, Todman's roster spot likely isn't in danger. However, this is a disappointing showing for him as he has the most regular-season experience. His lack of production has opened the door for Robinson to take more snaps as the change-of-pace back for the season.
Mike Brewster, Center
Mike Brewster was expected to be the starting center for the Jaguars following the retirement of longtime center Brad Meester. The former All-American center from Ohio State was expected to slide into his natural position after playing two seasons at guard. The coaching staff had faith in Brewster, with Bradley expecting him to "hold the fort down."
Things couldn't have started worse for Brewster as he had two bad snaps, resulting in fumbles for a loss of 37 yards. He never really recovered from his bad start, eventually losing playing time to sixth-round rookie Luke Bowanko. Brewster struggled in run blocking as well, adding to the frustration of his play.
Brewster's poor play culminated in him being a roster casualty as the Jags trim their roster down to 53 players. Brewster's fall from projected starter to struggling roster cut epitomizes just how fickle the NFL business is.
Dekoda Watson, "Otto" Linebacker
Dekoda Watson's entire offseason has been a disappointment so far. Watson was brought in as a free agent to play the new "Otto" linebacker position. However, he sustained a groin injury early on that required surgery and forced him onto the PUP list.
Watson managed to only see time in the final two games and was finally able to show why he was picked up in free agency. Late in the game against the Falcons, on third down, Watson showed good burst off the line to beat both the tight end and running back on his way to a sack.
That sack was the only play of note in Watson's brief preseason performance. It is unfortunate that the injury kept him out of so many offseason activities, especially considering he is a rather inexperienced player. The fifth-year pro has played in 60 games yet started only six of them. This was valuable time that he missed and could impact the whole defense.
Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver
Marqise Lee had the most successful preseason out of all the players listed here, but he still was a disappointment nonetheless. Lee was a top-tier talent in college prior to an injury that knocked him out of the first round. He had an excellent opportunity in the preseason to show everyone that passing on him was a mistake.
Lee was expected to be the main receiving weapon for the Jaguars during the preseason thanks to injuries to both Cecil Shorts and Allen Robinson. It was a chance for Lee to prove he could be the No. 1 receiver on the team and dominate like he did in college.
Instead, Lee managed only eight receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns across four games. Now, the numbers may not look too bad, but the numbers don't tell the whole story.
Lee was completely blanked in the first game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, going the entire game without being targeted once. His numbers got a large boost against the Falcons as he had a 57-yard touchdown catch. With that catch taken out, Lee's numbers fall to a paltry seven receptions for 37 yards (5.2 yards per catch).
Lee was also overshadowed by undrafted rookie Allen Hurns. He was never able to become the feature weapon the Jaguars hoped he would be given the injury situation.
Fortunately, he did start to show some of his speed and burst after his slow start to the preseason, giving the coaching staff some hope for the regular season. Lee will have a lot of pressure riding on him to perform in the regular season and turn this passing game around.