Jacksonville Jaguars Week 9: The Day After
Nine weeks into the 2014 regular season, the Jacksonville Jaguars now find themselves all the way across the Atlantic in London with only 1 win to show for it.
The route the Jaguars took to get here is a lot more complicated than just “the Jaguars are a bad team.” Sunday’s 33-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals is a microcosm of the season so far – some flashes of competence and downright explosiveness on offense, a defense that held up well for 3 quarters, and a litany of mistakes that doomed the team to yet another loss.
The Jaguars have a much more forgiving schedule once they get back from London, and there will be a few wins in there somewhere. For now, let’s take a look back at yesterday’s game and focus on 3 takeaways.
1. The offensive line is playing well
For the first few weeks of the season when Chad Henne was behind center, some people would have argued that the weakest unit on the team was the offensive line. They were giving up a ton of sacks and the running game was non-existent. Over the last 4 weeks, the offensive line has completely turned around and is playing solid football. Rookies Luke Bowanko and Brandon Linder have been 2 of the more consistent lineman, and Luke Joeckel has shown incremental improvement since week 1. The weak link on Sunday was right tackle Austin Pasztor, but it’s hard to fault him for having a tough day against an All Pro like Geno Atkins. Even with Pasztor’s struggles, the offensive line did enough in giving Bortles time to throw and opening up running lanes for Denard Robinson. They weren’t the problem this past weekend.
2. The Jacksonville defense is pretty good, but they need support from the offense
The Jacksonville defense had one glaringly awful defensive play on Sunday – the 60 yard rushing touchdown from Jeremy Hill that essentially sealed the game for the Bengals. Outside of that, the defense fell victim to some great plays by Andy Dalton and his receivers. Mohamed Sanu and A.J. Green each had a few spectacular catches that were incredibly difficult to defend, and credit Andy Dalton for making some nice throws to set up those great catches. The defense has been a bright spot over the last few weeks, and even this week it’s hard to argue that they didn’t do enough to win. They forced 2 interceptions at opportune times, and they held up well in the first half when the Jaguars offense could do absolutely nothing. Even with the plethora of injuries in the secondary, the defense did a good job of containing the Bengals and their healthy All Pro receiver.
3. Blake Bortles is going to keep making mistakes and that’s fine… for now
The Jaguars were listless on offense on Sunday for the first 2 quarters, and the culprit appeared to be a lack of aggression in stretching the field. The playcalling seemed to rotate between runs, screens, and short passes with very little effort put into pushing the ball down the field. Now standing alone at the top of the league with 13 interceptions, Blake Bortles wasn’t really given the chance to take deep shots early in the game. Unsurprisingly, the Jaguars finally found some big plays in the passing game in the 2nd half when they actually did take some chances deep. Unfortunately, those big plays are marred by the crucial interception Bortles threw in the red zone when the Jaguars had a chance to pull within 3. It’s all about progress – Bortles finally had a game where he threw more touchdowns than interceptions, and he kept the team in the game late into the 4th quarter despite two blocked punts. Yes, he had a handful of other questionable throws that could have been intercepted, but it’s all part of the process of developing a young quarterback. Let him make his mistakes now – it’s better than making these mistakes next year.