As the Jacksonville Jaguars attempt to climb their way to relevance in 2017, they are showing they still aren’t capable of overcoming their anchors.
Let’s get one thing out of the way – the Jacksonville Jaguars have been better than expected over the course of 4 games in 2017. Being 2-2 is about as good as anyone could have hoped entering the season and right now it’s good enough to give the Jaguars the lead in the division and a playoff spot.
That being said, it’s clear the Jaguars aren’t ready to be a team that can make noise in the playoffs.
I was fortunate (or unfortunate?) enough to attend the game on Sunday with a fantastic group of rabid Jaguars fans. To anyone who’s ever considered joining the Bold City Brigade on their annual road trip, don’t hesitate in doing it next year.
Despite the outcome of the game, it was an absolute blast and credit to everyone who organized the event.
Pivoting back to the game, watching the Jaguars live highlighted a few things:
The Jacksonville defense is an absolute force.
The speed is evident when you watch them live and it’s not a stretch to say this group can be the best in the league. Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye might’ve had their worst games of the year and they were still borderline dominant. The defensive line is quick and strong, and Myles Jack is a ferociously athletic individual. All of that is why it was so frustrating to see the defense give up two fluky long touchdown runs. The first one was almost excusable since everyone besides Bilal Powell thought he was down, but the second one was an absolute breakdown that can’t happen again.
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Offensively, the Jaguars are still hamstrung by their quarterback.
The problem isn’t Blake Bortles‘ ceiling – when Blake is on he can be a more-than-effective signal caller, as evidenced by his performance in London. But when Blake is off, the rest of the offense becomes a dysfunctional mess. While it’s easy to blame the offensive coaching staff when the team stalls, it’s important to note how hard it is to put together a gameplan when you have no idea what to expect out of your starting quarterback.
This all goes back to my final point: The Jaguars are a team that can’t overcome their weakest links.
Every team has holes. The New England Patriots have an awful defense, the Green Bay Packers have an anemic running game, the Seattle Seahawks have a horrid offensive line. All of those teams have found ways to overcome those weaknesses to some extent, mostly due to stellar quarterback play. The Jaguars can’t do that right now.
The defense tried as hard as they could (an interception by A.J. Bouye and a masterful fumble return for a touchdown by Myles Jack), but the offense let the team down. It wasn’t just Bortles either – Marqise Lee dropped a pass that likely would have set the Jaguars up for a game-winning field goal and Arrelious Benn was called for a penalty on the would-be go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t a bad team, but they still need to figure out ways to overcome the limitations of their worst starters if they want to become legitimately good.