There was a lot to like in the Jacksonville Jaguars week 2 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. I believe we got some answers to some buring questions, and if we didn't, we certainly moved closer to those answers. There's a lot of little things that happened that were very important, so; let's dive right into what I saw and thought about the game.
The most notable thing I saw was how improved the defense looked. Early on, the Falcons were able to have some success with draw plays up the middle, but that was later shut down. The only real offensive success the Falcons had all night was their 76 yard touchdown pass. Outside of that one botched play, the Jaguars were great. If I were giving a game ball, the defensive line would've got my vote.
Continuing that defensive trend to the article, I couldn't help but notice how the defenders swarmed the ball carriers. The first defender to the ball didn't always level the runner, but he always held him up long enough for about 4 of his friends to get there.
Finally, I want to point out that Tyson Alualu and Jeremy Mincey were reeking havoc on the Falcons' offensive line. Alualu collapsed the pocket again and again, and Mincey was consistently forcing Ryan to step up or get rid of the ball prematurely. This was truly the best performance, albeit a pre-season performance, I have seen from the Jaguars' defense in a long time.
Special teams was, as is usually the case, very good. Scotty McGee had a couple mediocre returns, but he and Deji Karim both had a very nice return to fall back on. Scobee nailed a 54 yard field goal, and Matt Turk dropped a punt inside the 5 yard line at the end of the first half that should have been downed there by Kassim Osgood, but he dropped it and it went into the end-zone.
David Garrard had a couple errant passes, but he passed the eyeball test. He looked comfortable in the pocket, and he seemed to be up to speed with the offense. Blaine Gabbert looked uncomfortable most of the night. He made some nice plays, but for the most part, he was skittish, and he didn't throw balls away as quickly as you'd like to see. Still, there appears to be a lot of talent there, but it'll take time to develop. The best quarterback, in my mind, was Luke McCown. He looked great in the pocket. He hit most of his passes, including a somewhat lucky TD that was deflected, but the pass still found it's mark. Keep in mind, McCown wasn't playing against the Falcons' best defenders, so; that definitely helped him out, but he was the star QB tonight for the Jaguars.
The running game never really got off the ground. The Jaguars would have a nice run here and there, but many times, they were stuffed for a loss or no gain. That can't continue once Jones-Drew and Jennings are back.
The receivers looked good, for the most part. Outside of his awful reverse fumble, Cecil Shorts looked pretty darn good. He made the first defender miss a couple times, and he showed his good hands. Hill had an early reception, but I didn't really see much of him after that, but he does seem to be coming along quite nicely.
All in all, it was a good day for the Jaguars. The quarterbacks need to step it up from their performance, but pretty much every other unit had a good day. This game leaves me with a sense of optimism, especially when I look at the defensive side of the ball. Just 2 more pre-season games, and we can get down to the real stuff.