The season opener saw some good things from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ultimately, however, we saw the Jacksonville Jaguars blow their lead and lose to the Philadelphia Eagles. After a surprisingly efficient first quarter, the Jags fell apart down the stretch, stalling on offense in the second quarter. A missed field goal and a blocked field goal foreshadowed the rest of the game. The offense didn’t start to pick up yards again until garbage time, with the Eagles up 34-17. 20 of the Eagles’ 34 points came in the fourth quarter.
The game was really a series of missed opportunities for the Jags. The defense provided good field position with two forced fumbles and the Jags managed to turn in an early 14-0 lead. The defense kept them in the game, especially with a big interception from Alan Ball with the Eagles in the end zone. But the offense just couldn’t keep up and Chip Kelly’s vaunted, high tempo game finally worse the Jags D down.
The big story here is that Chad Henne showed that he cannot be relied upon to pilot an offense to victory. This was most apparent on third down. The Jaguars failed to convert effectively, finished with just two of 14 converted. The abysmal 14% was far below the eight of 19 that the Eagles converted. The extended drives of the Eagles and their no-huddle approach finally whittled the tough Jags’ defense until they were ripe for big plays. The cracks started to show in the third quarter with a big 49 yard run from Darren Sproles. A 25 yard pass to Zach Ertz and a 68 yarder to Jeremy Maclin effectively put the Jags to bed. To highlight just how effective the Eagles’ offensive scheme was vs the Jaguars’ anemic approach you can look at play counts. The Eagles put together 82 plays on 15 drives, compared to 71 plays on 16 drives for the Jags. That says it all.
While the defense was able to control one of the most potent offenses in the league, the offense (once again) let the team down.
Quarterback Chad Henne completed just 24 of his 43 passes for 266 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. Obviously, the most telling stat there is the completion percentage at just 55%. Henne needed to make more throws and he needed to make them in clutch situations. He simply failed to deliver down the stretch. Heading into the half it looked like he would outplay Nick Foles, but he imploded. It looked like he got caught trying to play it safe, whereas in the first half he was taking bigger shots. His touchdowns throws to Allen Hurns (how about the undrafted rookie!?) should not go overlooked, but aside from those, Henne looked mediocre at best.
Henne received no help from the running game. Toby Gerhart missed places with an injury following a “horse collar” tackle (which may have been miscalled). Gerhart finished the day with just 42 yards on 18 carries. Neither Jordan Todman nor Denard Robinson could muster up better than 2.7 yards per carry either.
Inexperience showed today and the Jaguars desperately need to prove they can hang onto leads provided by what seems like a superior defense. If only to keep the opposing offense off the field, the Jaguars need to string longer drives together.