Is there much we can take from the Jags preseason performances? New head coach Gus Bradley comes from the Pete Carroll coaching tree with an emphasis on Defense. Now I've taken to watching some of the preseason games to try and get a little flavor for what the Jags want to do, even though everything supposedly tastes vanilla in the preseason.
The first preseason game brought the Miami Dolphins to town and from the very first drive Jacksonville was able to bring pressure from their front four. Now how much of this is attributed to the strength of Jags D-line versus the weakness of the Dolphin's O-line, I'm not sure. As I watched, I kept thinking "if I were a Dolphin's fan, I'd be ticked that they upgraded everywhere accept the left tackle." Then all of a sudden the Dolphins got on a roll and Tannehill's mobility lead to a touchdown. When the Jags had the ball, it seemed that the objective was to keep with short simple pass plays for Gabbert including rollouts. On top of that, they ran the ball with Offensive Weapon Denard Robinson and back-up running back Jordan Todman. While they didn't seem to make up much ground, they did get a 7-10 yard run from time to time. Gabbert threw a pick on his last drive of the night toward the end of the first quarter.
So on to the next game. This time the Jags would take on the circus that are the New York Jets. I'm thinking to myself, "This ought to be a trainwreck." The game starts with about a 40 yards return by the Jets and then comes the Sanchize. The Jags defense contains the run well on the first drive but unlike the previous week cannot get any pressure on the QB. If you give a QB time, they will pick you apart even if it's Mark Sanchez. So Sanchez goes 3/3 for 48 yards and a TD on the first drive. Even if it's a preseason game that's bad if you let these guys do that to you.
Now it's Gabbert's turn and the first drive runs very smooth. They start with about a 25 yard rope from Gabbert to Ace Sanders (who it seems to me, along with Denard Robinson and MJD are the focal points for the offense) Maurice Jones-Drew is back and featured heavily on this drive. The Jets get no pressure but once again when Gabbert is passing, they have told him to get the ball out quick. Their drive culminates in another rollout (which seems to be a staple of this attack) to the tight end for six. The next series sees the Jags gashed on the ground and through the air, until Mark Sanchez turns into a pumkin and overthrows a wide open 6'5 receiver leading the Jets to a field goal. Gabbert returns and immediately you see the Jags running a very quick pace dink and dunk offense. No thinking for Gabbert just quick swing passes, bubble screens and an occassional rollout. On the one blitz the Jets do bring at him, Gabbert stares it down and immediately throws into the blitz, hitting his tight end for a first down. Gabbert leads the team to a field goal.
Gabbert was in for one more series after this but it was more of the same, get the ball out as quick as possible and let your playmakers make plays. After Gabbert was out, I was off to the third preseason game. Gabbert apparently showed the Jags enough to be named starter even with a fracture on his throwing thumb, so they sit him for the next three weeks to rest up for the Chiefs' game. So the third preseason game is the one that most people put all the emphasis on. Chip Kelly's Eagles should provide an interesting test.
The Jag's pressure shows up early in this game, yet Vick is able to elude and get out of the pocket and make a couple nice throws before they are forced to punt. On offense, while the Jags loose Gabbert, Cecil Shorts returns at WR and makes a nice catch from Henne. MJD is back and in rare form as he pounds the Eagles defense. Again, we see more of the quick short passes. Henne finds Blackmon for an easy TD pass. Blackmon has really stood out on the film the last two games, it's too bad for the Jags that he won't be available for the first four games of the season. The Jags defense stones Vick again and at this point they are looking very strong. The Jags then start to fall apart, Henne commits Jax's 8th turnover of the preseason with a pick and then the Eagles score six.
So what can we take from the Jags preseason for the Chiefs? I think you can expect a quick pace offense that focuses on short passing and the running game to try to minimize turnovers. They will move the pocket to try to keep Gabbert clean. The Chiefs press coverage along with an aggressive blitz plan should be able to keep the jags down, provided our tackling is solid. On defense, Gus Bradley is trying to re-create the Seahawks defense. His biggest problem, however, is that he doesn't have the cornerbacks to pull it off. If the Chiefs' offensive line can provide a pocket for Alex, he should be able to carve up the Jags secondary. One last thing, the Jags special teams seems to allow a lot of big returns, while I never saw one returned to the house on them there were many times when they gave up 25+ gains. Have to think the Chiefs will have some opportunities.