The New York Giants will be looking for signs of progress Saturday night when the host the Jacksonville Jaguars in a preseason Week 2 game at MetLife Stadium. Let's check in on the Jaguars with a "Five questions" segment. Ryan Day of SB Nation's Big Cat Country drops some Jaguars' knowledge on us.
Ed: The Giants are all too familiar with losing players to injury. How disappointing is it to lose first-round pick Dante Fowler (No. 3 overall) for the season to injury before he ever played a snap?
Ryan: Very. Pass rush was our biggest need and one that we thought we could get a huge boost in by picking Fowler. Luckily, Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich work really well with the guys we have. I don't want to say they "manufacture" sacks, because that's dismissive of the guys we have, but they do a good job of maximizing who we have.
The Jaguars were dead last in pressures on opposing quarterbacks, yet sixth in sacks. That's a testament to the coaches we have and the schemes we've developed. We're obviously looking forward to seeing a pure pass rusher, but it's not as if this year hinges on Fowler or not. We were gonna go 6-10 or 7-9 regardless.
Ed: Where is Blake Bortles in his development? The Jaguars are committed to him, but can he be a long-term answer for them at quarterback?
Ryan: We're only one preseason game in, but Bortles looked very poised in the pocket against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Friday. He was patient, he threw the ball better, he didn't tuck and run as reflexively, and his offensive line gave him exponentially more time to throw than they did last year.
Ed: Tell us about any standout young players Giants fans might want to watch out for during Saturday night's game?
Ryan: Right guard Brandon Linder was a near Pro Bowl player last year in his rookie season and with newly signed right tackle Jermey Parnell next to him, he's going to be a lot of fun to watch. Second-year outside linebacker Telvin Smith has so much athleticism and speed for a linebacker but he can still tackle well in the open field. Lastly, rookie wide receiver Rashad Greene is the front-runner to return punts and will play out of the slot. He's got a lot of speed.
Ed: The Jaguars won only three games last year and have just nine wins in the past three seasons combined. Despite that, do you see signs that the franchise is now pointed toward better days?
Ryan: Yes, I do. We started from the ground up. It was a larger process than I think even Jaguars owner Shad Khan and general manager Dave Caldwell estimated. They said by Year 3 we'd be competing in the division. Not going to happen. It was an exhaustive process that most owners wouldn't give a coaching staff and general manager the time to really build. This wasn't a rebuild. It was moving to another state and constructing a brand new house.
But all that said, yes, I do believe the franchise is headed in the right direction. Like I said, Bortles looked like night and day in that first preseason game, the offensive line looks good, the secondary has been beefed up ... if we can have any semblance of a running game, this season will look very, very different.
Ed: Give me one player on the Giants roster not named Odell Beckham Jr. you would like to have on the Jaguars. Why?
Ryan: Not Odell? Uh, who's your best pass rusher with all his fingers still intact? We'll take him. Or Ereck Flowers. I'll probably pick whoever can get the most pressures on the quarterback. We're woefully understaffed when it comes to pass rushers. With Jason Pierre-Paul a question mark going forward, I'll say Robert Ayers.