JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After back-to-back games in which the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-team offense pretty much did what it wanted, the unit looked a lot like it did during the opening quarter of games in the 2015 season: sluggish, ineffective and mistake-prone.
The Jaguars turned the ball over once and managed just 9 yards and one first down in the first quarter of their 26-21 preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field on Sunday night. They also were penalized for an illegal snap.
"Well, we played pretty bad," quarterback Blake Bortles said. "I do not think we did a whole lot of things. We played bad at every position, and usually that is what happens when you play bad -- you do not score a lot of points."
The Jaguars' first-team offense played the entire first half against the Bengals and ended up with 86 yards, three points and just five first downs. There were issues with the offensive line (especially Brandon Linder and Luke Joeckel) and six penalties.
"We had some success as the ones in the first few preseason games, and this is our first chance going against Cincinnati and some things did not go our way, but I think [we'll] just learn from it and be better," Bortles said.
QB depth chart: Bortles was under steady pressure but still completed 10 of 16 passes for 52 yards in his most extensive playing time of the preseason. He didn't look particularly sharp, either, although he whipped a tight seam pass to Allen Hurns to convert a third-and-12. That was by far his best throw of the night. Chad Henne played the entire second half and finished 7-of-18 for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Maybe that dude could start: DT Sen'Derrick Marks told ESPN earlier in the week that he had accepted his role as a backup to Malik Jackson but wasn't happy about it. Marks has played well throughout the preseason, but he played his best game against the Bengals. He had two tackles and a sack and got consistent penetration in the backfield. He looked a lot like he did in 2013 and 2014, when he was the Jaguars' best defensive player. He says he has no issues with his torn left ACL or the torn triceps that sidelined him for much of last season. The Jaguars will rotate defensive linemen frequently so Marks will still get plenty of work.
Who got hurt? FS Tashaun Gipson suffered a knee contusion during the first half. S Earl Wolff suffered a hamstring injury during the second half. DT Roy Miller (quad), S James Sample (shoulder), DT Sheldon Day (back) and S Peyton Thompson (concussion) did not play.
A surprise player who impressed: The top five receiver spots are pretty much locked up, so guys are essentially auditioning for the practice squad and/or other teams. Tony Washington, a second-year player from Appalachian State, has flashed in camp and had a 36-yard catch-and-run against the Jets. He caught two passes for 25 yards against the Bengals and also made a tough, end-line leaping catch for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Washington had to muscle the ball away from a bigger defensive back.
When it was starters vs starters the Jaguars looked: Over-matched, ill-prepared and sloppy. And where to begin? Linder had an illegal snap and a false start penalty (with 17 seconds left in the first half), Bortles backed away from center early and running back T.J. Yeldon fumbled. On back-to-back plays, TE Julius Thomas and running back Chris Ivory did not know where to line up. The Jaguars also used linebacker Hayes Pullard III at fullback, and he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass -- except he forgot to report in as eligible and it was nullified. Cornerback Prince Amukamara was penalized for pass interference in the end zone, which helped extend a Bengals scoring drive that eventually lasted 8:57. The Jaguars' defensive line really missed nose tackle Roy Miller (out with a quad injury). The Bengals totaled 122 yards (49 rushing) and scored touchdowns on both red zone trips in the first quarter.
One reason to be concerned: It's hard to narrow it down to one, but it should be especially troubling that Joeckel played as poorly as he did at left guard and left tackle after playing so well in the first two preseason games. Joeckel started at left guard while Kelvin Beachum started at left tackle, and Joeckel had trouble at both spots, particularly against the bull rush. Joeckel got knocked on his rear several times. Gus Bradley said Joeckel played the most physical game of his career last week against the Bucs, so to see him moving backwards as much as he did had to be disappointing. Beachum understandably looked rusty -- it was his first game action since Oct. 18, 2015, when he tore his left ACL -- so his performance is mitigated somewhat. The Jaguars have a quick turnaround before Thursday's preseason finale at Atlanta so the Jaguars may not get much of a look at Beachum this week.
Ngakoue over Fowler: Bradley said earlier in the week that rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue would get reps with the first-team defense. He started over Dante Fowler Jr. and did a solid job, recording two solo tackles (one for loss) and getting in Andy Dalton's face a couple of times. Fowler was on the field during the Bengals' first offensive possession, so he wasn't benched, but it is noteworthy that Ngakoue has out-played Fowler in the preseason. Fowler had success early in training camp but struggled against the Jets and Buccaneers. Fowler did pressure against the Bengals, but he's still looking for his first sack. Earlier in the week, defensive coordinator Todd Wash said he challenged Fowler to study harder, watch more film on his own and translate what he learns in meetings onto the field. It's a learning process for Fowler, who can't just rely on his athleticism any longer.
Redemption: Pullard made up for his earlier gaffe on offense by picking off Joe Licata's pass and returning it 62 yards for a touchdown to put the Jaguars ahead 26-21 with 7:48 remaining. Pullard read Licata's eyes and stepped in front of a pass intended for receiver Michael Bennett and went untouched down the left side of the field.