In recent weeks, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been in tight games due to underwhelming performances from the offense.
Things seemed to be running smoothly for the Jaguars right before and after the bye week. Jacksonville shut out the Indianapolis Colts before the break, and then returned with a blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
But in the last three games, the Jacksonville Jaguars offense has hit a wall. Against the Chargers and Browns, the defense carried the team to wins in spite of the offense, and the Jaguars jumped to 7-3 on the season.
But against the Cardinals on Sunday, it was another lackluster effort from the offense, and this time the defense just couldn’t salvage another win.
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The sub-par games no doubt can be attributed to poor play from key pieces of the offense, like Blake Bortles and the offensive line. Bortles has resorted back to the worst version of himself, and with injuries piling up, the offensive line has struggled to hold their own in recent weeks.
But the biggest component to the offensive woes of late is that opponents are finding the right recipe for shutting down the Jaguars, and that should be a mild concern moving forward.
The recipe in the simplest form has been this: Stack the box and go all out in shutting down Jacksonville’s potent rushing attack, and bring heat on obvious passing downs to further disrupt Blake Bortles.
And it’s working.
Going back to that game Sunday against Arizona, the Cardinals rolled out with the aforementioned defensive gameplan, and it took a toll on Jacksonville all afternoon.
Arizona completely neutralized Leonard Fournette, loading up the box and giving him no where to break through. Fournette finished with just 25 yards on 12 carries. In fact, the only time Jacksonville had success on the ground was with running the read option and Bortles keeping it himself. Bortles finished as the Jaguars leading rusher, and had both offensive touchdowns with his legs.
Then with it came to the passing game, the Cardinals brought the house numerous times, annihilating the offensive line, and keeping Bortles rattled, further enabling his erratic play.
Looking ahead, teams are going to keep using that same philosophy. Go all out in stopping Fournette, and taking their chances against Bortles. The defense has carried the load all season, but as evident from the last three weeks, without any support from the offense, holding down the fort has increasingly become more and more challenging.
In order to get back on track moving forward, Blake Bortles and the offense must create ways to move the football, score points, and attack opponents who are pinning their ears back, to counter-balance the constant effort put forth by the defense.