JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 1-3 record is about what most predicted for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their four preseason games. Now the Jaguars will try to prove naysayers wrong, those who are predicting five, maybe six wins for coach Gus Bradley's second team in Jacksonville.
Few expect the Jaguars to approach a .500 record, a mark that those inside the office walls at EverBank Field would eagerly accept for what is deemed as the second of a three-year rebuilding process. There have been enough pleasant surprises in preseason for reason for optimism. There is also enough reality to know that there are still a number of holes that need to be plugged.
The Jaguars' biggest concerns still fall with the offense. It's not just one unit either. A case can be made for concern with the running backs, certainly the line as well as the receivers.
The line has not played well in the preseason. Some of that can be attributed to injuries, some to the shuffling in and out of players, some to inexperience.
As it stands now, the Jaguars will start two rookies (Luke Bowanko and Brandon Linder) in the middle of the line, a second-year player (Luke Joeckell) with no experience at his position, a third-year player (Austin Pasztor) who's currently out with a broken hand and a fifth-year veteran (Zane Beadles) who was not the dominating guard in preseason that the Jaguars had hoped to see.
The defense has lived up to its preseason billing. The much-improved line has not put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks that is needed, but the Jaguars' blitz package has also been limited in the preseason games. LeRoy Reynolds has been a pleasant surprise filling in for injured Dekoda Watson. Rookie Telvin Smith, while undersized at 218 pounds, has displayed enough quickness and solid tackling to compensate for his light weight. Once Watson is healthy and returns to the lineup, it will give the Jaguars even more options with this unit.
The secondary is young and talented with three of the four starters in either their second or third season.
While there are highs and lows with the starters, the same holds true with the schedule with tough games mixed in with easier contests. Unfortunately for the Suns, the tough part of the schedule starts early with three of the first four games on the road at Philadelphia, Washington and San Diego. And the only team coming to EverBank Field in the first four weeks is division favorite Indianapolis.
The opener with the Eagles could be the toughest among the first three road games. The Jaguars have had success in games against the Eagles, winning the first three meetings before the Eagles won the last meeting in 2010. That's the only one between the two teams in the last seven years.
Jacksonville's defense will get a good opening-day test. The Eagles surpassed 30 points in three of their preseason games and had 28 in the other. Geno Smith is a solid quarterback who should be more consistent this year after starting all 16 games as a rookie last year. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and had 12 TD passes but also threw 21 interceptions.
NOTES: No Jaguar did a faster free-fall than C Mike Brewster. The former Ohio State third- year pro went from a solid listing as the Jaguars starting center at the start of training camp to second string midway through to getting cut from the roster when the Jaguars released 18 players on Friday. ... WR Tandon Ross had a chance to make the Jaguars roster as both a receiver and punt returner, but an ankle injury in the last preseason game against Atlanta forced the Jaguars to place him on injured reserve. ... The Jags are hoping that that K Josh Scobee's quad injury has healed by the regular-season opener in Philadelphia. Otherwise, look for recently waived K Kasey Redfern to be re-signed by the team, assuming he's still available. ... The Jaguars will do whatever they can to keep TE Marcedes Lewis healthy as the depth behind Lewis is thin. Clay Harbor missed the majority of training camp with a calf injury and Marcel Jensen was mediocre at best. Two others were released Friday. Brandon Barden was waived/injured and D.J. TiaLavea was waived. ... C Luke Bowanko and RG Brandon Linder won starting spots.