Yes, there were roster spots up for grabs, but for the core of the Jaguars roster, it was a night off and one of the last deep breaths before the start of a season loaded with more expectations than any of them have ever experienced in Jacksonville.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone decided to sit 34 players for this game, including the projected starters on both sides of the ball and several key regulars who will be called on to play substantial roles. Among those who played Thursday night, only defensive end Dante Fowler, defensive tackle Taven Bryan and fullback Tommy Bohanon and special teams players figure to see substantial time during the season, barring injuries.
Fowler will miss the first game of the season due to a suspension stemming from an off-the-field incident from the 2017 offseason.
For the guys who will play the biggest roles in the Jaguars quest for the Lombardi Trophy, it was a chance to watch the backups play and rest before beginning preparations for the 2018 season. Now that the game is over, with the Jaguars winning 25-10 to improve to 3-1 in the preseason, attention will turn to the cuts, due by 4 p.m. Saturday, and then the season opener on Sept. 9.
“We still have work to do. I don’t think you start the season feeling like you start the season and you are 110 percent hitting on all cylinders, ready to go,” Marrone said. “Us as a coaching staff, we’re still going to be on the details, still going to be developing, still going to be working on techniques as well as putting in our schemes. We still have a ways to go there.”
It is no surprise that Marrone is taking a “one-step-at-a-time” approach. That has been baked into his coaching DNA. However, once the cuts are made and the roster is set, the Jaguars will know the expectations are sky high. In a recent NFL.com article, five of 21 experts picked the Jaguars to make the Super Bowl, with two predicting the Jaguars to take home the Lombardi Trophy. This time last year, if anyone would have predicted that kind of success, they would have lost all credibility. But here we are.