CIN-JAX grades: Rookie LB Myles Jack grades well in Jaguars' win
Jacksonville Jaguars 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Jaguars’ 26-21 preseason victory over the Bengals in Jacksonville:
Quarterback grades: Blake Bortles, 70.1.; Chad Henne, 76.0
Blake Bortles plays just average in Jacksonville’s win
Bortles had a fairly average game, something he acknowledged himself during an in-game interview after the Jaguars offense managed just three points during his first-half stint. He delivered a great pass at 12:01 of the second quarter, moving the chains on third down in the process, but that was his only completion that traveled more than 10 yards downfield. Bengals DT Geno Atkins got to him on the team’s third offensive play, but otherwise Bortles faced little pressure – just three of 15 dropbacks. It certainly was not a great way for him to end the preseason, assuming the Jaguars hold him out for the final game, as they did in 2015.
Top offensive grades:
QB Chad Henne, 76.0
G Kadeem Edwards, 74.2
TE Neal Sterling, 70.7
G Mackenzy Bernadeau, 70.2
QB Blake Bortles, 70.1
Few players in offensive supporting cast stand out
Not much stood on the Jaguars offense, considering the first team managed only a field goal. The team’s starting offensive line struggled, particularly the center and left side, while both T.J Yeldon and Chris Ivory gained more yards after contact than total yards. One of the unit’s few positive grades came from backup guard Kadeem Edwards, who played a team-high 45 snaps, with a clean sheet in pass protection during that span and several positive blocks in the run game.
Top defensive grades:
LB Myles Jack, 85.2
DE Tyrone Holmes, 84.8
LB Hayes Pullard, 84.5
CB Nick Marshall, 82.7
LB Telvin Smith, 80.7
LB Myles Jack among rookies who excel
The Jaguars had a number of defenders grade well, including their top pick from 2015, Dante Fowler Jr., but no one stood out more than a pair of rookies, LB Myles Jack and edge rusher Tyrone Holmes. Jack continues to display a decisiveness at the snap that you don’t see from many of his peers, which was evident at 5:40 of the second quarter when he forced a cut from Bengals RB Tra Carson. He also got in on multiple stops during the third quarter.
Jacksonville’s sixth-rounder, Holmes, has had a quiet preseason to this point, but dominated Cincinnati’s backup tackles, Aaron Epps and John Weidenaar. He ended with just two pressures in eight rushes – not including a third nullified by penalty – but had three other instances where he beat his blocker quickly and cleanly only to see that ball had already been released.
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Quarterback grades: Andy Dalton, 55.1; AJ McCarron, 80.5
Andy Dalton unimpressive, but AJ McCarron plays well with second team
It was an average day for Dalton, who led the Bengals to the end zone on two of his three drives, but his play was less impressive than that of his receivers and backs. He missed on all three of his deep passes, while each of his six completions came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, including his touchdown – a screen pass that RB Giovani Bernard took 19 yards to the house with the help of guard Clint Boling.
McCarron was decidedly more impressive in the same number of snaps (25), albeit mostly against Jacksonville’s backups. Like Dalton, he was relatively risk-averse, with eight of his 10 aimed passes going either behind or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. But he was accurate on both downfield throws, which included a dime down the right sideline at 14:19 of the third quarter. What also stood out was McCarron’s quick release, which several times negated a great pass rush from Jacksonville. For the game he averaged 2.28 seconds from snap to pass attempt, the 14th-quickest of 58 quarterbacks this week, which was needed considering he faced far more pressure than Dalton, and the most of any QB this week (73 percent of dropbacks).
Top offensive grades:
FB Ryan Hewitt, 84.2
QB AJ McCarron, 80.5
T Andrew Whitworth, 77.1
C Russel Bodine, 76.1
G Kevin Zeitler, 75.2
Starting offensive line impressive in loss
Cincinnati’s five starting offensive linemen saw 25 snaps each and played well for the most part. The unit allowed just three pressures, with one each from Eric Winston, Russell Bodine and Kevin Zeitler, but the latter two made up for it with strong performances in the run game, paving the way for a 9.0 average rush for Bernard. Tight end C.J Uzomah also took advantage of Tyler Eifert’s absence. He didn’t make much of an impact in the passing game (one catch in three targets), but graded well as a run-blocker with multiple successful downblocks against Jags DE Jared Odrick to open the edge.
Top defensive grades:
DT DeShawn Williams, 82.2
DT Geno Atkins, 81.6
LB Marquis Flowers, 80.4
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, 80.3
DE Will Clarke, 79.2
Star DT Geno Atkins looks to be in regular-season form
Atkins played very well in this one, pancaking LG Luke Joeckel at 13:42 of the first quarter (with a helpful trip from the center) to land a hit on QB Blake Bortles. He also converted two of his other 13 rushes into pressure and made a tackle for a short gain in run defense. In the second half, DeShawn Williams was similarly imposing in 29 snaps, bouncing back from a rough game last week in Detroit. He compiled two stops, three pressures, and a batted pass in that span, beating guards Tyler Shatley and Mackenzy Bernadeau multiple times each in both facets.