Five Most Important Things for the Jaguars:
1. Leave Miami healthy - Good news on this one, as the Jaguars left Miami with no injuries.
2. Safety play - The Jaguars young safeties were tough to evaluate, being that Miami's starting quarterback, Trent Green played so poorly. Neither Gerald Sensabaugh nor Reggie Nelson made any major mistakes, but they weren't really tested much.
3. Passing game - The Jaguars passing game was certainly improved over last season, although there were some definite issues with protection. Both Leftwich and Garrard looked good, and there were only a few drops by the receivers.
4. Special teams - The Jaguars special teams unit had a solid night overall, but there were a few mistakes. The punt and kickoff coverage teams were excellent, but both Josh Scobee and Adam Podlesh could have had better results. Scobee didn't have a touchback and missed what would have likely been the game-winning 42 yard field goal. Scobee's kick came from the "infield" which was pure dirt, but if this was the regular season, Jaguars fans would expect Scobee to make that kick. Podlesh had solid stats (46.2 yard average), but failed to land a punt inside the 20 yard line, despite having two excellent opportunities.
5. Gray vs. Couch - Quinn Gray didn't make the trip south, but he benefited from the poor play of Tim Couch. Couch never looked comfortable and threw the ball poorly. I don't want to make too much of one preseason game, but at this point I really can't see Couch making the final roster unless Gray isn't healthy enough to play.
What to look for:
1. Wide receiver separation - The Jaguars wide receivers did a solid job of getting open against a poor Miami Dolphin secondary. Ernest Wilford, John Broussard, Mike Walker, and Reggie Williams each found themselves open on many occasions.
2. Secondary Play - The Jaguars starting secondary did a great job, and the backups did fairly well also. Bruce Thornton notched his first interception on a nice play on a poorly thrown Trent Green pass. Dee Webb struggled with tackling, and Nick Sorensen found himself in the wrong spots often.
3. Footwork of Byron Leftwich - Leftwich seemed to move around a little better than last year, although he was hit hard on a few occasions thanks to some very poor protection by the offensive line.
4. Linebacker play - Jaguars linebackers were very good on this evening. Peterson, Ingram, Smith, Durant, Iwuh, and Thomas all made plays all over the field. The Jaguars will have some very tough decisions to make on cut-down day.
5. Toefield vs. Pearman/ Wimbush vs. Owens - The first matchup clearly went to Pearman, thanks to LaBrandon Toefield's two lost fumbles. Pearman contributes more on special teams, and their running skills are similar. Toefield may have lost a roster spot thanks to Saturday night's game. In the Wimbush vs. Owens matchup, Montell Owens played a slightly better game. Owens caught three passes for 27 yards, and paved the way for Alvin Pearman's touchdown. Neither fullback did anything extraordinary in their limited carries.
Other impressions from the game:
A few things went through my mind as I was leaving Dolphins Stadium Saturday. The first is that the paid attendance was 71,399. That's nice, but about 70% of that number must have been stuck in traffic somewhere in Miami. Another thing that I pondered was how good the Jaguars defense actually is. Was the defense that dominant, or was Miami's offense that terrible? There's no way of really knowing for sure. My final thought for the evening was about the wide receiver position. During the offseason I claimed that the Jaguars wide receivers could actually be a strength this season, and through one meaningless preseason game, I couldn't be more correct. The real question is how many wide receivers will they keep, and who will it be? We know that Mike Walker and Dennis Northcutt have already earned spots, but who will join them? John Broussard continued his stellar play, and Ernest Wilford started and found a way to get open and catch everything thrown his way. Matt Jones made a few plays despite a dropping a perfectly thrown ball, and Reggie Williams is far too talented to give up on. Throw in Charles Sharon and Jimmy Farris showing promise, and D'Juan Woods making a fantastic catch in traffic and you have a very difficult decision to make if you're the Jaguars coaching staff.