Uncertainty at the quarterback position has been the prominent headline for the Jaguars throughout their preseason; yet after Jacksonville’s 24-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers, it’s far from the only concern for the team heading into the regular season.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve got to clean up,” said Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone following the Aug. 24 game.
For the second straight week, Jacksonville’s defense, to start, came out flat. Panthers running backs Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey torched the Jaguars first-team defensive unit, rushing for a combined 54 yards on eight carries in the game’s opening 75-yard drive, which took 6:26 off the clock. Quarterback Cam Newton threw the ball only twice during the drive, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin that put the Panthers up 7-0 early.
“We can’t come out and let a team march down the field like that,” said Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose team allowed a similar opening drive against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week two of the preseason. “We need to come out and play fast right out of the gate. That was very disappointing for our defense.”
Cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin, as well as defensive end Dante Fowler, did not suit up against the Panthers. Yet Posluszny said their absences can’t be used as an excuse for the defense’s performance, adding that injuries are a part of the game.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line quickly showed why concerns surround that unit as well. A quick three-and-out on Jacksonville’s opening offensive drive featured a short yardage rush by running back Chris Ivory, a false start penalty by right tackle Jeremy Parnell and a sack on quarterback Chad Henne that pushed the Jaguars back 7 yards, eliciting early “boos” from the fans at EverBank Field.
With its starters playing most of the game, the offensive line would go on to commit four more penalties, three of which were called on right guard A.J. Cann. The unit also allowed two additional sacks on Henne.
“I thought we’ve had two rough games now,” said Marrone of his offensive line. “So, we played (starters) a lot tonight, the main reason was because of the quarterback situation, but the other reason is they need the work, too.”
The Jaguars will aim to work through these issues as they face off against the Atlanta Falcons in their final preseason game Aug. 31 in Atlanta at 7 p.m.