The Jacksonville Jaguars tried valiantly to come back in a 34-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
The Jacksonville Jaguars defense had no answer for Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers rushing attack. Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser summed it up best in his story following the game.
"“McCaffrey Mayhem proved better than Minshew Mania. Panthers running back and MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey ran through the Jaguars defense early and often.”"
The Jacksonville defense could not stop McCaffrey all game long. He played as well as anticipated, running 19 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught six passes for 61 yards. He may have done more but left the game with cramps. Three touchdowns on the day – two on the ground and one by pass reception – was enough damage to secure the win. He showed speed and agility as he ran through the middle of the Jaguars’ front four.
"“If McCaffrey keeps performing at this level for a long time we’re eventually going to be talking about him as one of the best ever,” writes Tim Weaver of Panthers Wire."
Three of the Jaguars’ big offensive weapons had solid games in a losing effort. Gardner Minshew completed 26 of 44 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns which is a personal high for him. Sadly, he also had three fumbles.
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Leonard Fournette ran 23 times for 108 yards and caught four passes for 29 yards. The former first-round draft pick also scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. He made a great block in the second quarter that saved Minshew from a sack. Quickly, he is becoming a complete player and has become a vocal leader on the sidelines.
Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark caught eight passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He is rapidly becoming a star wide receiver with his circus catches and ability to get open down field. He has become everything the front office thought he would be when the team drafted him in the second round last year.
The obvious difficulty for the Jaguars is the offensive and defensive lines. Success in the NFL starts in the trenches and our players were pushed around all day.
"According to ESPN’s Michael DiRocco, “The Jaguars didn’t get the run game cranked up until the second half for the second week in a row.”"
The offensive lines struggles have been an issue all season. The running game needs lanes and the quarterback needs protection.
"Although the defensive line is being pushed around there is another issue. As stated by Myles Jack on Jaguars.com, “There were couple of situations where people were out of their gaps. We’re a gap defense so if someone is out of their gap it’s going to be wide open.”"
Jack admitted that he was not in his gap when McCaffrey made his long run of 84 yards.
The rest of the season’s success depends on improving our line play. In addition, the nine penalties the team was hit with doesn’t produce winning football. The lack of discipline that caused personal foul penalties has improved but shows up in players out of position in critical times. The Jaguars have started using lead blockers with the running game, but often don’t use them at critical times.
The offensive line is not capable of blocking effectively at this time.
It’s a long season and far from over but after two victories and all the positive hype, this game proved there is still plenty of work to be done.