Where do the Jacksonville Jaguars go from here?
By David Levin
After a 24-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in London, the Jacksonville Jaguars head into their bye week with a 3-5 record. Can this team turn the season around or continue on this four-game losing streak?
This wasn’t a game that you could place blame on Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. For the fourth time in as many games, the Jaguars lost, falling 24-18 to the Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The loss is the team’s fourth in a row after starting the season 3-1 and looking every bit the Super Bowl contender predicted for this season.
The Jaguars have many questions to answer. A bye week will give this team a chance to rest before resuming its schedule, but it may not be enough time to solve the issues on offense and heal a defense that has now been affected by injuries.
"“We’ve got a lot to do. I think we’ve got a lot to do in a lot of different areas. I’ve got to first — you know, it starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss on Sunday morning. “Obviously, my message is not getting across. So I’m responsible for everything that goes on, and it’s my responsibility.“Then from there, we’ve got the bye, we’re 3-5. Take a real good look at a lot of things, and the first thing I look at is where I need to improve, what I need to do to get this team focused and playing the way that they have the potential to play.”"
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This doesn’t appear to be an easy fix. A banged-up offense, injuries to the secondary, and no true tight end on the roster and a star running back who continues to deal with a hamstring issue. It’s a recipe that has no solution at the moment. The defense played without for defensive backs against the Eagles who appeared to have weapons at every skilled position.
This is not the team once thought to be a run-first offense with the best defense in the NFL. The roster is a shell of itself, the players are not performing up to expectation. Marrone wasn’t shy about talking about it on Sunday, saying this team must get back to the identity that helped them to the AFC Title game last season. Question is, what must be done first?
"“I think that starts a lot with what we do in practice. What we do and getting some continuity there, which we’ll have some time to work on,” he said. “We’ll have some time to really take a look at what we’re doing well and what we’re not. Right now we’re not doing anything well.”"
Last week, all eyes were on Bortles and his benching in the second half of the 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans at home. This week, the fifth-year starter looked more comfortable in the offense, threw for 286 yards and a touchdown. While he was sacked four times, he did not throw an interception.
While everyone was quick to point the finger at the signal caller the past three weeks for lack of production on offense, it was not the fault of No. 5 for poor play. The team did not run the football aggressively and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett abandoned the running game in the fourth quarter.
Bortles spoke about the lack of running the football after the game.
"“I don’t know [why the team stopped running the football]. Play comes in my helmet, and I call it. I thought the guys did good up front,” he said. “Obviously, got down, so you’re going to throw it a little more there, just situationally based. But I thought what we were doing was fine. We just got to make plays.”"
While the players have the week off, Marrone and his staff will continue to work on fixing the issues on both sides of the ball. A healthy Leonard Fournette and a consistent running attack will help. Injuries still play a big role in the record of the Jaguars at the moment. Better play and coaching could help turn this team around in the second half of 2018.