Jacksonville Jaguars Preseason Wrap-Up

by Richard David Smith III
The Jaguars could go in any direction from here…at least according to quantum mechanics.
Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects, resulting in a contradiction with common sense. The scenario presents a cat inside of a closed box that may be both alive and dead, depending on an earlier random event.
What the experiment basically says is that any random event can change the trajectory of the life path of any given object or being (in this case, a cat) but, in the meantime, during the period that we don’t know, the cat is both dead and alive, creating a series of parallel universes in the process. We can apply this thought experiment to our own cats: The Jacksonville Jaguars. All of the preseason data has now been calculated. All the game tape has been watched and rewound and watched again. All of the coaching platitudes have been regurgitated. All of the “expert” and blogger prognostications have been written in…pencil. All of the sports talk hot air has been bloviated ad nauseam. While common sense may predict that we are in for a rough season–as Schrödinger’s cat experiment indicates—it is important to remember that anything can happen once the great referee in the sky flips his cosmic coin. Right now there is a universe where the Jaguars are 0-16, but there is another universe where the Jaguars are 16-0 Super Bowl Champions and all one with all the variations within the two extremes. Which of the Jaguars parallel universes will our cats exist in? Will our kitties go belly up, or will they prevail? Who honestly knows? That, sports fans, is why they play the games. #parity
Here we will recap the Jaguars last two preseason games and take a look forward to Regular Season Week One.

Preseason Game 3 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Unlike “The Godfather” saga, Preseason Part III is usually the best that the exhibition season has to offer in terms of quality and is also the game that most closely emulates the regular season. The starters usually stay in for at least the entire first half of the contest and a lot of the tougher roster decisions are essentially made upon the game’s conclusion. Clearing up the murkiness about a week before the Jaguars third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jaguars head Coach Gus Bradley officially named Blaine Gabbert the starting quarterback going into the 2013 regular season. Gabbert would go on to miss out the Eagles and the fourth and final preseason game as well, but should be good to go for the regular season opener.
Philling in against Philly (see what I did there?) at starting QB for the injured Gabbert was Chad Henne. Henne was fairly efficient against the Eagles’ defense, completing 11 of 18 attempts for 106 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT; making for a nifty 91.8 QB rating on the night (which included taking four sad sacks). Of course, as far as the regular season is concerned, this effort was in vain with regards to the first team QB position battle, as well it should have been. The team already knows what it has in Henne—a quality NFL back-up QB, to be sure—but they must find out what exactly it is they have in Gabbert going forward. Unfortunately, the one thing that they do know they have in Gabbert is a QB who is having trouble staying healthy and on the field.
The real offensive revelation of the third preseason game and perhaps the entire preseason in general was second year running back Jordan Todman, who has been taking full advantage of the extra reps presented to him this off season as a result of Justin Forsett’s sprained toe. Todman gained over a hundred yards against the Eagles, including busting an electric 63-yard TD run in the second quarter, which gave the Jaguars a 17-10 lead at the time. Todman could prove to be a valuable Maurice Jones-Drew insurance policy as well as a much-needed complementary change of pace. The Jaguars first-string defense looked stout as well. While it is true that the Eagles were a bit banged up on offense, any huddle that starts with the elusive and strong-armed Michael Vick under center, shifty superstar running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy in the backfield, and WR/lightning bolt DeSean Jackson streaking down the sideline is nothing towards which to scoff. Though pressure on the QB was still virtually nonexistent, Jags D held its own by keeping this dynamic bundle of potential scoring energy in check. Forth quarter TDs by both Philly RBs Bryce Brown and Chris Polk secured a 31-24 victory for the Eagles, but there were many positives for the Jaguars to take away from this, the most predictive of all preseason games. #progress
Miscellaneous News and Notes from the Game 3
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly & Company held up pictures of Bart Simpson and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches on the sideline in order to signal in plays versus the Jaguars (and you have never been so glad to not have John Madden around to never shut up about this)…Jaguars punter Ken Parrish drew an ugly face mask penalty to prevent the Eagles from scoring a special teams TD–in the preseason? (c’mon, man)…The Jaguars half-time show was Frisbee Dogs, which opened up the Michael Vick obvious-joke flood gates on Twitter.
Preseason Game 4 vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Jaguars avoided going 0-for-preseason with a win over the potent Atlanta Falcons on Atlanta’s home turf. While it was great to get the Cheerio out of the preseason win column, this game saw both teams sit most of their starters throughout the entire game (Matt Ryan didn’t even wear pads under his jersey), so try to hold the bragging to a minimum. Jordan Todman continued to impress in his bid to serve as MJD’s back-up, running for 60 yards on 9 carries, including an 18 yard TD run in the first quarter. QB Mike Kafka threw a 13 yard TD pass to WR Jeremy Ebert in the 4th quarter, but it was not enough to save either of them from being two of the 12 veterans cut on August 30th (downright Kafkaesque). The other ten veteran players who were released or waived on August 30th were DE Pannel Egboh, RB Jonathan Grimes, LB Brandon Marshall, WR Charly Martin, OT Pat McQuistan, G Drew Nowak, CB Kevin Rutland, DT D’Anthony Smith, LB Julian Stanford and (sort of surprisingly) CB Marcus Trufant. #winning
Looking Forward: Regular Season Game 1 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Play time is officially over…and shit is about to get real teal. The Jaguars are set to host the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle of the Number One (Chief’s Offensive Tackle Eric Fisher) and Number Two (Jaguars’ OT Luke Joeckel) picks of the 2013 NFL Draft. Both the Jaguars and the Chiefs feature new coaches as well, but their areas of football expertise and experience are as vastly different as their respective waistlines. The svelte Gus Bradley is the Jaguars young, fiery first-year head coach known for his defensive prowess as a defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks. The cheesesteak-chomping Andy Reid is the Chiefs grizzled, successful former 13-year head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (an almost unheard of tenure in today’s NFL) who was a disciple of Mike Holmgren and his mid-1990s Green Bay Packers staff of offensive wizards, and was one of the founding fathers of the pass-first (and second and third) approach to game-planning. Reid was fired last year after a few seasons of not being able to continue what he started with Michael Vick and the ungodly amount of talent surrounding him in the huddle as what seemed like a match made in Don Coryell Heaven never quite panned out. He was quickly (and wisely) scooped up by a Chiefs team that was in dire need of established leadership.
Alex Smith is now at the helm for the Chiefs after signing with them as a free agent. Despite a fine season of his own, Smith lost his job to injury/the emergence of superstar Colin Kaepernick, who never looked back. An Alex Smith with something to prove under the tutelage of an Andy Reid with something to prove could be a frightening combo for the rest of the AFC, and I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to predict them to be the most improved team in the AFC this season. Of course, Jamaal Charles is their most explosive weapon, but he is a bit dinged up. Look for progress reports on him throughout the week; he is a game-changing type player and without him the Chiefs are obviously a very different offense. The Chiefs defense is mid-level at best and it loses a lot of its effectiveness without the help of the noise generated by their home crowd, with perhaps the best home field advantage in the entire league being at Arrowhead Stadium.
For the Jaguars, Gabbert looks to return from injury for this game, but will be minus one of his top weapons in WR Justin Blackmon–who looked beastly in the preseason—as he begins serving his four game suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy (which I’m sure you’re more than tired of hearing about at this point). Jones-Drew appears as healthy and focused as he’s been in a while, spelling trouble for the Chiefs D…or any other D for that matter. The offensive line appears to be gelling but may have not gotten in quite enough work with Joeckel in the preseason. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III is in his third season, which is statistically the “breakout” year for WRs (scary thought for opposing Ds). Bradley’s infectious positive attitude (the Seattle Times once asked him, “Do you ever have a bad day?”) seems to be spreading throughout the locker room and now we will finally get to see if that translates into something substantial on the field and, more importantly, on the scoreboard.
This game will be played at 1:00 PM on Sunday, so expect the usual brutal August heat and humidity. However, before you go thinking that this will automatically be a huge advantage for the Jaguars, just keep in mind that summertime in Missouri is no stroll through Golden Gate Park–our Army readers may have heard of a little place called Fort Leonard Wood. #NotCool