What a difference a week makes. The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Atlanta Falcons 15-13 in the team’s preseason home opener on Friday night.
It was a marked improvement on the defensive end from last Thursday’s 47-12 loss to the New England Patriots.
The reason for the turnaround? A lot of credit has to go to the Jaguars’ front four, which showed noticable growth.
A big part of that progression came in large part to tackle Terrance Knighton, who demanded double teams throughout the first half.
That allowed Jacksonville to do something to Atlanta's Matt Ryan that the team’s defense hasn’t consistently done in some time; apply pressure.
Knighton-who sat out during last week's game-collapsed the pocket while end Jeremy Mincey harassed Ryan. Newly acquired veteran end Matt Roth and second-year tackle Tyson Alualu also made Ryan uncomfortable on second-effort plays.
While the Jags didn’t log any sacks, Ryan definitely had a hard time getting set and went 7-of-15 for 116 yards and a touchdown. Most of that yardage came on a 76-yard touchdown toss to Harry Douglas in the second quarter. Take that play out of the equation and the Jaguars were dominant on defense.
Mix that with a solid kicking game—Josh Scobee went three-of-three on field goals, including a 54-yarder—and the Jaguars were able to out-grit the scrappy Falcons.
Defense and special teams might have been the difference makers for Jacksonville but everyone’s eyes were on quarterbacks David Garrard and Blaine Gabbert and both had mediocre performances.
Garrard, who made his first appearance of the preseason after dealing with an injured back earlier in training camp, went 7-of-12 for 99 yards and threw an interception. Gabbert was equally unimpressive as he went 12-of-23 for 96 yards.
The difference there is that one is a rookie while the other is 33 years old.
Only one Jacksonville quarterback put together an impressive performance and that was third-stringer Luke McCown. He completed eight-of-nine passes and found Armon Binns for a 12-yard touchdown for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
That was Jacksonville’s first touchdown this preseason, which is a problem in itself. But it is an improvement from last week, which is what the Jaguars were striving for in their second preseason contest.Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Blaine Gabbert, David Garrard, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeremy Mincey, Josh Scobee, Terrance Knighton