By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire
DETROIT – Depth.
Over the past few years, it was one key element the Jaguars have been seeking. It also will make the difference for the Jags heading deeper into the postseason this coming fall.
Saturday afternoon against the Lions before a bulging crowd at Forbes Field in Detroit, the Jaguars may have found their answer. Between the two teams, this was a battle of the backups, and the Jags won the battle, 25-7.
The Jags did have depth at some positions last season, but they have the opportunity to become more rounded this season. This was a showcase for the Jags rookies and free agents.
It also was another Year Two showcase for head coach Doug Pederson, who continues to show how prepared and conditioned his teams are. Add a few more pieces, and Pederson will know what to do with them.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard didn’t have any staggering numbers, and he has looked adequate at best through the first two games. Against Detroit, Beathard was 12-of-20 for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Rookie Nathan Rourke was 10-of-12 for 121 yards, but Beathard will be the backup behind Trevor Lawrence. Pederson has confirmed Beathard’s status. He also saw some good from Beathard’s performance.
“Nathan did well, and he’s done a nice job,” stressed Pederson. “I like his mental capacity, he sees the field extremely well, and he’s tough. He did a nice job for us.He (Rourke) has done exactly what we have asked of him. But Beathard is our number two, and Trevor is our number one.”
Possibly the deepest spot on the team is wide receiver, especially with the addition of Calvin Ridley. There will be a battle for a final spot, and possibly two, among Tim Jones, Elijah Cooks, Seth Williams, and sixth-round pick Parker Washington all had auditions for a spot.
Washington hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass, and Williams caught three balls in a fairly equal distribution that likely was spreading the ball around as much as possible. Second-round pick tight end Brendon Strange has three receptions.
The Jags also got a constant and consistent push from their defensive front with some pressure from linebackers Jordan Smith and Yasir Abdullah along with the clog up front from Tyler Lacy and Jeremiah Ledbetter.
The other side of the ball wasn’t as fortunate. Guards Cooper Hodges and Chandler Brewer were banged up, and the extent of their injuries will be determined early next week. Center Darryl Williams is in the same situation.
Cam Robinson wasn’t as fluid, and he’ll need some more time next week before he misses the first four weeks due to his suspension. The Jags will lean on Walker Little in his spot at left tackle, and let top pick Anton Harrison experience the NFL first-hand on the other side.
Third-round pick running back Tank Grisby got a long look, and showed some flashes. Veteran D’Ernest Johnson also got some significant time, and showed how he can be a valuable piece on the depth chart.
Yes, more depth.
The Dolphins are in town next Saturday for a more of a nonchalant cross-state rivalry, and Lawrence and the front-line players will get some time in the final dress rehearsal.
After that, Pederson and his staff should have their ducks lined up in a row. Or should we say, depth instead.
“Yeah, I think we’re in a better position, we do have more depth and that’s a good thing,” offered Pederson. “It creates the competition that you want, and it creates competition even for the starter. The starters are out there looking, they’re watching the same game and they’re seeing these players. It motivates the starter too, so there’s an underlying message sometimes with that.
“We still got a couple weeks of training camp left and one more preseason game, so there’s a lot of football still ahead.”
Whatever happens, the Jags appear to be a deeper club for this fall.
(SportsDay’s Jeff Moeller writes for Florida Sports Wire)
(Photo by Jeff Nguyen/Detroit Lions)