By: Amanda Borges (@Amanda1010XL)
Anticipation. That’s probably the best word to describe what players and coaches feel, as they get ready to start Training Camp 2015. Will Blake Bortles show improvement? Who will start at Center? Which rookies will get a roster spot? Will the offensive line improve?
You’ve read the articles that explain exactly what you can expect during this year’s camp. Watch the offensive line battles, keep your eye on the rookies, watch Bortles, watch the safeties, etc. Well, I’m here to warn you. There are some things that just won’t happen during camp.
1. You Won’t Have All The Answers. That’s right. At the end of camp, we may not know everything we want to know. We may not know if Zane Beadles wins the starting role or if rookie A.J. Cann will get the nodd. We may not know who will be the go-to guys at running back. Some answers won’t come until the preseason, or maybe even later. Training Camp is very helpful when it comes to having an “idea” of what will happen. That doesn’t mean you’ll have concrete answers.
2. Blake Bortles Won’t Knock Your Socks Off. That’s not meant to sound harsh. We had Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union on the show yesterday and he made an excellent point. Bortles is a game-time performer. He doesn’t play very well during practice. That’s okay, because obviously the games matter and practice doesn’t. That’s why I’m warning you. Don’t come to camp expecting to see Bortles throwing the prettiest deep ball you’ve ever seen. It’s not going to happen. That doesn't mean he'll disappoint you completely. He's definitely improved from last year.
3. The Offense Will Not Be Complete. Let me remind you that despite returning players on offense, Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson is new. That means that ever since OTAs, he’s been installing a brand new offense that every player has to learn. Because there is so much to learn, don’t expect the offense to be completely put together during camp. There are going to be things that just can’t be put together in a few weeks. This doesn’t mean they won’t be ready when Carolina comes to town. This is just a warning. Camp is a learning process. They are all in this together.
I’m not trying to sound pessimistic. I just want to warn you. If you come out to Training Camp expecting answers right away, it won’t happen. I encourage you to come and watch with an open mind. We can guess, summarize, and speculate all we want. The truth is, we don’t know who is going to win their respective camp battles. Players will get cut, others will really impress. This is the time to get the kinks out, get comfortable, and figure out how to win.
Only time will tell.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The debate and trash talking has already begun.
Over the weekend, I got into a discussion with a friend about the Jaguars, most notably Blake Bortles and who was the second best quarterback in the AFC South behind Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.
My friend, who will remain nameless to protect the guilty, said Marcus Mariota had already become the second best passer in the division, way ahead of Blake Bortles. All I could do was stare at him with a blind look I am sure my children have given me at least once while growing up. How could someone – albeit talented – have cemented such a position within the NFL, given the fact they had not thrown a football in a live NFL game yet?
Please note, this friend is a football fan and a Mariota fan, not a fan of the Tennessee Titans. If that were the case, there would be a lot more jawing between the two of us.
The AFC South has a bright future behind center with Luck, Bortles and Mariota. At some point, maybe the Houston Texans will figure it out and find a franchise-worthy quarterback, but for now, this appears to be a three horse race behind center. The fact is we don’t know who the second best is yet. We have no idea what kind of season the rookie Heisman Trophy winner will have and we have no idea how Bortles, although he is said to look better than last season, will fare.
Everything is based on speculation. But the conversation certainly got me a bit riled up, which is good for the football soul.
Does this mean Bortles season will be scrutinized more if Mariota figures out how to play in the pocket and a pro-style offense? Maybe. To take things a step further, what happens if players like Mariota, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr have better than average seasons and Bortles shows improvement, but does not have the breakout season some like Pete Prisco of CBS Sports think he might have?
Maybe my friend is just trying to psyche me out a bit, but those thoughts are going through my head as I watch television and cannot seem to make them stop. Yes, he got to me. Well played, I might add.
With all the pressures of having to learn a new offense, work on timing with receivers and Julius Thomas and learning to rely on new mechanics, the last thing our quarterback needs is to be compared to the draft class of this year, let alone the two others mentioned in last year’s class.
It’s bound to happen. It’s human nature. It’s how fans and media types determine how good NFL players are beyond hype. Statistics tell only part of the story, but in a world we watch like a hawk thanks to fantasy football and online sports sites, they are considered the gospel of reasoning.
As a fan of the game, I want Mariota to play well – for 14 of 16 games. It’s the same for Luck (who is my starting quarterback in my fantasy league). But for two weeks in the season, I want both to fail. It’s a natural wish when you support the home team. I wish as well my friend would see the light and realize you cannot anoint one quarterback better than another based on camp reports. That title must be won on the field. And while he is a Mariota fan, he is still a Jaguars fan, just like myself.
I wonder what he will say if Bortles is infinitely better than last season, and Mariota struggles like our quarterback did last season. Do you think he will have the same opinion at the end of the season as he does now?
I hope not, but this is football and as you all know, I am always ready for a good debate.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed second-year wide receiver Greg Jenkins, the club announced today.
Jenkins, 6-1, 205, has appeared in six career games since entering the league as an undrafted rookie with Oakland in 2013. As a rookie, the Alabama State product returned six punts for 49 yards (8.2 punt return avg.) and 10 kickoffs for 221 yards (22.1 kick return avg.). Jenkins recorded his only NFL touchdown on a fumble return on the opening kickoff against Dallas on Nov. 28, 2013. The Dade City, Fla. native spent part of the 2014 season on the Raiders’ practice squad.
Jenkins started for two years at quarterback at Alabama State after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. As a senior, he completed 137 of 233 passes (58.8 comp. pct.) for 1,691 yards and nine touchdowns, and rushed for 507 yards and eight touchdowns on 121 carries (4.2 rush avg.). Jenkins attended Wesley Chapel High School in Pasco County, Fla..
With the signing of Jenkins, the Jaguars now have 90 players on their roster.
By: Amanda Borges (@Amanda1010XL)
Winning the national championship at Ohio State just months before he became an NFL player, Michael Bennett knows the definition of hard work. But, Bennett admits he has a lot to learn.
I caught up with Bennett after his first offseason with the Jaguars and he explained the biggest difference between playing college football and practicing in the NFL’s offseason. He said the NFL is actually a little easier on players than college football programs are.
As a sixth round pick in the most recent draft, Bennett is a rookie who admits he’s only scraped the surface of what being an NFL player is all about. As I watched him during OTAs and even after practice, it’s easy to see that he’s capable of learning and adapting to his new defense. He has a noticeably shy demeanor, until you talk to him. Bennett is bubbly, outgoing, funny, and extremely dedicated.
“I’ve got a lot to work on with technique. You know, you go through four years of college and you think you’ve started to figure your technique out and it’s completely different here…I just have a lot to do and a lot to focus on,” says Bennett.
That intense focus will be important for Training Camp. Bennett missed Rookie Minicamp earlier in the summer because of a hamstring injury. Once he was out there for OTAs, you noticed him.
As for Training Camp, Bennett has very simple goals—“Get better each day, try to show them that I can hit, that I love to hit, and put those pads on and show them what I can do.”
Click below to listen to the entire interview.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
When the Jaguars go back to work next Thursday, there may not be a more excited person in the offices of EverBank Field than head coach Gus Bradley. Now in third season as Jacksonville’s fearless leader, you get the sense everything he and team general manager David Caldwell have planned for this franchise is coming to fruition. His office and the walls that surround him within the stadium have proven to be his sanctuary of sorts where this team – with new players added to the roster and holdovers who have impacted this community – will be going to church starting Friday morning with the first workout on the practice field.
If you wanted a barometer of when football season starts, you could say once Bradley blows his whistle for the first time on Friday, everyone will know who the preacher is and who the followers are. Yes, in these parts of the south, football is as much a religious experience to some fans, this one included.
Since April, before the NFL Draft, we have talked about the progress made by Blake Bortles, the continued rehabilitation of Sen’Derrick Marks, the need for Marquis Lee to play injury-free football and how much better the offensive line should be with free agent signings and the addition of Doug Marrone to the coaching staff.
But when is the last time we talked about Bradley other than the notion that he needs a huge season and progress from these players to keep his job after this season?
When was the last time we gave real attention to the time Bradley and his staff put in to come up with a new offensive game plan and a strategy to make the defensive better than it was last season? Teams do not improve on their own. They do not take to a new playbook or style of aggression on defense without the proper coaching. We all know players want to play for Bradley and they want to bottle some of his infectious mentality. He is just that kind of guy.
Those qualities are not developed over night and they certainly do not maintain a high level of acceptance without constant preparation. So when the team broke camp five weeks ago, I seriously doubt the down time was without some degree of preparation for what lies ahead. Good coaches become great coaches based on preparation. That’s why Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick are considered two of the best in the business. That’s why when Bradley was hired by Caldwell three years ago, the thought was if Bradley is as charismatic as Carroll, the coach he worked for in Seattle, there is no reason to believe this hire won’t prove to be best the team has made since Wayne Weaver brought Tom Coughlin to town.
Seven days are what separate the fans from their football fix. Seven days stand in the way of Bradley and his staff putting the players through the paces. We know Bortles is going to show he is better than last season. Lee and Marks will be brought along slowly during camp. The rookies and free agents will all continue their progression to a new environment. But at the end of the day, there will be no one person working harder than Gus Bradley. His attitude, personality and drive demand it.
We often talk about everyone else and their success during this time of the year. Maybe we should take a moment and realize these players and the coaching staff cannot succeed unless the fearless leader is at the top of his game.