The Jacksonville Jaguars came out the victors in their first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Jaguars won the game 16-10 and there were a number of players who left a good impression with the coaches afterwards. Here is a quick breakdown of the two biggest winners, one offense and one defense, from Week 1.
Blake Bortles, Quarterback
No player on the Jaguars roster has had as much attention on him than Bortles. The third-overall pick in the 2014 draft, Bortles has been handling the expectations admirably. He has performed well in camp and has just focused on learning the basics, something the coaches want him to work on while Chad Henne is the starter for the 2014 season.
However, Bortles play on Friday night may put a kink in their plans. Bortles played exceptionally well, finishing 7-11 for 117 yards, including three drops. He also had two good passes negated due to offensive pass interference calls. He showed good poise in the pocket and took his chances down field, having completions of 24 and 31 yards.
What really stood out on tape was his poise. He stood strong in the pocket, completing a 16-yard pass to Kerry Taylor despite having a defender hitting him as he threw. While Bortles didn’t lead Jacksonville to a touchdown, he showed all the qualities you want from a franchise quarterback.
Now it is just the first game and Bortles was playing against the second-team defense so let’s not get too carried away. The important thing to keep in mind is Bortles did exactly what every player vying to be a starter is supposed to; he outplayed his competition despite having a weaker supporting cast. It’s early but the future is bright.
Sen'Derrick Marks, Defensive Tackle
While Blake Bortles was impressing on the offensive side of the ball, Marks was busy dismantling the Buccaneers’ offensive line. Marks had a breakout season last year, compiling four sacks and rating as one of the best interior pass rushers per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Marks picked up right where he led off, compiling three quarterback pressures, a tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. Marks seemed to be in the backfield on every play and thoroughly disrupted the Buccaneers’ offense. On a third-down play late in the first quarter, he easily knifed his way between the guard and center, forcing quarterback Josh McCown to step away from him, right into the arms of Chris Clemons.
Marks has proven so far that last year was not an isolated incident since he wreaked havoc against Tampa Bay’s first-team offense. There have been a lot of new additions and changes done to the Jaguars defensive line this offseason and he will be relied upon to be the linchpin that holds it all together.
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