Monday, July 29, 2019

Jaguars offense efficient on first day of pads


With full contact allowed and all pads on, would the Jaguars offense be as sharp as it was in OTAs?
The running theme through Jaguars OTAs in May and June about the offense was caution.
Yes, the unit looked sharp with Nick Foles at quarterback, a group of improving wide receivers and upgrades at tight end with third-round draft pick Josh Oliver and free-agent signee Geoff Swaim.
But let’s not get carried away, players and coaches said.
Let’s see what happens in full pads.
Sunday was that day, and while the offense didn’t make many plays to bring the overflow crowd of nearly 3,000 to its feet, the operative word was efficiency.
“The offense looked good out there,” said Oliver. “First day of pads, and everyone came out feeling great.”
Wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who hasn’t had a drop yet in the preseason, added an adverb to Oliver’s assessment.
“We looked really good,” he said. “We’re getting the timing down in running routes and how we need to run them and working on chemistry.”
The Jaguars’ four 11-on-11 periods focused mainly on situational football, such as running two-minute drills from both midfield and in the shadow of their own goal post, plus short passes and timing routes.
And while the players were in full pads, the officials blew whistles quickly, and rarely was a ball carrier brought to the ground.
The only deep ball came in an early 7-on-7 drill in which Foles overthrew Westbrook, who was closely covered by Jocquez Kalili.
The offense committed only one pre-snap penalty in the 11-on-11 periods, and there was nothing that could have been judged as a dropped pass.
Foles completed 13-of-18 passes in the 11-on-11s, Gardner Minshew was 8 of 14 and Tanner Lee 7 of 11.
Alex McGough got the short end of the reps but still hit on both of his attempts, one on a two-minute drill rep and another near the end of the final period.
The four quarterbacks combined to complete 30-of-45 passes, but six of the incompletions were spikes to kill the clock on two-minute reps.
There was only one interception, on a poorly thrown pass on the run by Minshew that was picked off by Tre Herndon.
Chris Conley caught five passes and Westbrook four, all from Foles. Westbrook had one diving catch in which he laid his body full-out and grabbed the ball inches from the ground.
Toward the end of practice, Westbrook dove for another ball that went off his fingertips. He said he was held on the play and catching it would have taken another extraordinary effort, but Westbook offered no excuses.
“I have to make those catches,” he said.
Minshew connected with C.J. Board on back-to-back plays, and Lee hit Oliver over the middle with one pass, with Oliver bouncing off two defenders to stay on his feet.
When the Jaguars did run the ball, Leonard Fournette showed some slick moves. But with the officials quick to blow the whistle, the gains were minimal.
“It’s coming along,” Oliver said. “One day at a time. We’re getting the install stuff in and cleaning it up.”
Another plus for the offense was another strong showing by the line in individual drills against the defensive line. The offense won about 60 percent of those battles, with center Brandon Linder, guard A.J. Cann and rookie tackle Jawaan Taylor leading the way.
Westbrook said it’s a sign of continued progress under new O-line coach George Warhop.
“We’ve got a great line coach,” Westbrook said. “It pretty much starts with him and trickles down to the players. They’re taking care of their own. We trust them to let Nick get the ball off, and then we have to go get it.”

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