If there is one thing fans learned about the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason debut for 2022, it’s that a lot of work has to be done. Simply put, the team couldn’t get much offense going and that resulted in them enduring a 27-11 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
With the 2022 Hall of Fame Game serving as an extra preseason game, the Jags sat over 20 players and it put them in a situation where they were especially without their top offensive players. That reflected in the team’s inability to score in the first half as Las Vegas had a 20-0 lead at halftime.
That said, this game was one for the Jags’ younger players. That didn’t mean starters were completely excluded though, as the Jags are set to start several players under 25 years of age. One of them is center Luke Fortner, who saw extensive playing time and had some good moments in the process.
As for the defense, quarterback Jarrett Stidham made plays against the unit that even briefly trotted some starters out early in the game. The young quarterback moved the ball well enough to exit the first two quarters with 20 points by utilizing players like running backs Josh Jacobs, Ameer Abdullah, and Zamir White. Of the three, White had the highest rushing total ending the game with 11 carries for 52 yards.
However, White wasn’t the only Georgia Bulldog showing up in the first half. No. 1 pick and Jags OLB Travon Walker was all over the field and started the game with a rep where he pressured Stidham after bull-rushing offensive tackle Brandon Parker. Unfortunately, Walker accidentally made contact with Stidham’s head and was penalized in what was the first offensive snap of the game. In the next series, Walker sacked Stidham and showcased why he was the first player selected off the draft board in April.
To start the second half, the Jags’ defensive unit played better, holding the Raiders to a scoreless quarter to begin it. But unfortunately, the offense, which was led by quarterback Kyle Sloter in the process, could only come away with three points.
In the drive they were able to score, the player that led them along the way was running back Mekhi Sargent, who touched the ball five times in that drive. Overall, he finished the game with five carries for 22 yards and five receptions for 37 yards.
Sargent came into Thursday’s game as a relatively unknown player, but after showing off his versatility, he helped his chances to make the roster. He still may have to battle Ryquell Armstead for the RB4 role, but another performance like the one he had on Thursday could give him the lead in the race, and it will be interesting to see if he capitalizes on the momentum.
Then lastly, late in the fourth quarter, Sloter was finally able to throw a touchdown pass to put the score at its final state of 27-11. That pass went to running back Nathan Cottrell, which concluded a nine-play drive that was the Jags’ second to last. In that particular drive, receiver Willie Johnson made a few positive plays, bringing in his only two passes of the night in the process. He also had an eight-yard rush on a jet sweep and finished the night with 41 receiving yards.
Overall, it wasn’t just a night where the team couldn’t do much offensively, but one where they had a lot of mistakes like crucial penalties. For example, Johnson returned a punt for a touchdown in the second half, but it came back because of a holding call from defensive back Ayo Oyelola.
That said, Jags coach Doug Pederson said the team will work on eliminating the mistakes they made Thursday heading forward. He also said he will play more starters next week as their game against Cleveland on Aug. 12 will be four days away from the first wave of training camp roster cuts.