With the preseason getting underway, there will be a spotlight on Doug Marrone and the Jacksonville Jaguars as they take on the defending champion New England Patriots Thursday night in Foxborough. It is Marrone’s first game as the permanent head coach of the Jaguars, as he hopes to turn this team around from the 3-13 record of last year.
The biggest question mark on everyone’s radar is going to be seeing how Blake Bortles performs? Bortles went through some pretty rough practices these past few weeks, including one of the joint practices against the New England Patriots earlier in the week. Since Jacksonville picked up Bortles’ fifth year option, he needs to prove that he is the future of the offense as the team’s signal caller. Tonight could help turn some of the volume to dump him down a bit.
As drama with Branden Albert unfolded this week, the thoughts looming in everyone’s mind is how the offensive line come together. In June, Pro Football Focus ranked this offensive line as #13 in the league with Albert still being an active member. Now that Albert is on the reserve/retired list, rookie Cam Robinson will step into the starting role at left tackle. This creates a whole new dimension to the chemistry of this offensive line that will need to give Bortles as much protection as possible.
Speaking of chemistry, the rookies and free agent acquisitions of this offseason will add a stimulating factor that this Jaguars team needs. Not only will we get the first look at first round pick Leonard Fournette, we also will see why fourth round pick Dede Westbrook is considered Jacksonville’s secret weapon.
Calais Campbell increases the amount of ferocity that this young defensive line already has as well as adding in his veteran know-how. Veteran A.J. Bouye will eventually team up with second year star Jalen Ramsey to bolster the secondary.
Expectations are high for team of black, teal, and gold to get some respectability back with coach Marrone leading that charge. Obviously, a lot of role players will be involved in tonight’s game trying to make an impression, too.