The Jacksonville Jaguars will look to get into the win column for the first time during the preseason when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday evening. Pittsburgh is coming off of a last second victory in their first preseason contest against the Seattle Seahawks.
After their thrilling win last week, the Steelers come into this game with a lot of positive momentum. One of their biggest questions heading into the season would be the play of their quarterbacks, after the retirement of long time signal caller Ben Roethlisberger. Although Roethlisberger played at a level that was noticeably below his prime last season, he still brought a lot of experience to the table.
Against Seattle, all three quarterbacks who played threw at least one touchdown. Mitchell Trubisky appears to be the leader in the clubhouse to start Pittsburgh’s first regular season game, and looked solid in his first live game action. Mason Rudolph is entering his fourth season with the organization, and has stepped in for Roethlisberger previously due to injury. It is unlikely Rudolph will see a lot of playing time this year unless the same scenario occurs in 2022, but he also looks ready after a 93 yard, one touchdown performance of his own.
Steelers fans were likely most pumped up about the play of their first round pick, quarterback Kenny Pickett. Although he was playing against deep Seattle reserves, he only had two incompletions on the day. His 13 completions for 95 yards would suggest the coaching staff wanted him to play conservatively, but it was a nice confidence boosting performance for the rookie. Pickett threw the game winning touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns, who spun off of his defender and ran it into the endzone.
After a tumultuous 2021 season, the Jaguars are looking to turn the page under a more stable leader in head coach Doug Pederson. He has significant NFL experience, including leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl championship.
It is unlikely that the ceiling for this Jacksonville team is that high, but fans will want to see improvement out of the team’s cornerstone young players. Even though he is the unquestioned starter in his second NFL season, Trevor Lawrence will need the preseason to get some positive plays under his belt before the real games begin. He was decent last week against the Cleveland Browns, throwing for 95 yards and a touchdown. His scoring pass was to new tight end addition Evan Engram, who will bring athleticism up the seam to a team that needed playmakers.
Another good sign for the Jaguars is the return of their other 2021 NFL first round draft pick, running back Travis Etienne. He missed his entire first campaign in the NFL due to a foot injury, so this is his first action on the professional level. Etienne ran for a modest 23 yards of nine carries. While he doesn’t need to show out in the preseason, it would be nice for Jacksonville fans to see the same level of explosion he displayed at Clemson in the exhibition slate.