ReFo: Jaguars @ Lions, Preseason Week 3
The third preseason game is usually considered the most interesting, as it provides a more accurate gauge of team’s preparedness for the regular season, with most starters generally skipping the fourth.
Jacksonville hopes to continue the momentum they built up in the second half of last season, and is surely eager for Blake Bortles to eventually claim the starting quarterback job. Meanwhile, the Lions have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but have been lacking in discipline in recent years and have been unable to really put it all together over the course of a full season.
Jim Caldwell was brought in as head coach to see if he can right the ship and finally maximize Detroit’s potential. On Friday night, the Lions were able to hold on for a one-point win over the Jags, with Reggie Bush‘s 86-yard touchdown burst the highlight of the game. However, there were several notable performances from both sides, a few of which we’ll take a look at now.
Jacksonville Jaguars — Performances of Note
Blake Bortles, QB, +1.3
Breakdown: Friday was another promising performance from Bortles, with this being his third straight game in the ‘green’. There was the occasional bad decision, especially at the end of the first half when he threw a ball up for grabs (dropped by the defender) and almost cost the Jags three points. Regardless, there were plenty of positives to make Jags fans eager for more, with Bortles displaying a very strong arm and heady play.
Signature Play: Q3, 10:55 to go. Here Bortles shows off his arm strength and accuracy, putting the ball perfectly in between the trailing corner and safety coming over the top, with a 24-yard completion on a go-route to Allen Hurns.
Zane Beadles, RG, -0.8
Breakdown: While he certainly held his own in pass protection, allowing just one hurry in 35 pass block snaps, his run blocking left a lot to be desired in this game. Now in his third game with the Jags, run blocking has normally been his strong suit, so hopefully this was just an aberration for him.
Signature Play: Q3, 14:18 to go. On this play, Beadles is leading the run off center-left and has a clear path to the second level to pick up Lions LB DeAndre Levy. But instead he whiffs on the block, allowing Levy to go inside of him and hold the running back to a 2-yard gain.
Allen Hurns, WR, +2.4
Breakdown: Hurns, a rookie free agent from Miami, seems to be developing some chemistry with Bortles, which can only be a good thing for his long-term job prospects in Jacksonville. He has good size, and like he did last week, demonstrated some ability to stretch the field.
Signature Stat: Caught seven passes on nine targets for 113 yards and a touchdown, and forced one missed tackle. So far this preseason he is averaging 17.7 yards per catch, including 5.0 Yards After Catch per reception.
Detroit Lions — Performances of Note
Tahir Whitehead, OLB, +2.5
Breakdown: Whitehead got his first start of the preseason playing the strong side, and had 42 snaps to show his stuff, most of which was very impressive. He displayed terrific sideline-to-sideline speed, and often put himself in the perfect position to make a play.
Signature Stats: He managed six stops on defense (no one else on the Lions had more than three), as well as two sacks and a hurry for good measure.
Ndamukong Suh, DT, +0.2
Breakdown: Imagine this if you can, Ndamukong Suh makes some great plays showing off his incredible athleticism, but also gets called for a bonehead roughing call on the QB. Suh was his typical dominant self at times, almost looking unblockable, but continues to exhibit discipline problems that has defined him his entire career.
Signature Play: Q1, 10:59 remaining. Here we see the good Suh, where he gets outside leverage on Jaguars right guard Brandon Linder, and takes him all the way back into the quarterback.
Matthew Stafford, QB, -4.2
Breakdown: After enjoying a very strong preseason so far, Stafford fell back into some of his bad habits in this game. Although he completed 10 of 16 passes, it was for only 98 yards, and he made some very poor decisions.
Signature Play: Q1, 5:26 to go. Stafford gets locked onto Calvin Johnson running a post/corner route, and never recognizes Alan Branch dropping in to coverage. It’s a nice play by Branch to get that deep, but Stafford never looks anywhere else, and ends up with a costly turnover.
PFF Game Ball
Flashing ability all over the field on defense for the Lions, Tahir Whitehead certainly stood out in this game enough to get our Game Ball this week.
Follow Roland on Twitter: @PFF_RolandB