This day deserved better than this. A lot better. There’s no way to spin it, and really no other way to say it. Fred Taylor, all of the alumni players in attendance, even the now-retired teal jerseys – they all deserved better on Sunday. And actually, early on, it seemed like better might be what they all got. Early on, there was energy and hope at EverBank Field. There were opportunities that looked like they might become big plays, and while that was happening you had a good feeling about what might happen for the Jaguars on the day they put Taylor in the Pride of the Jaguars. It didn’t end with a good feeling for the Jaguars.
It began in sunshine and ended in a downpour. For the Jaguars, Sunday turned dark at the same pace, with a first half of missed opportunities turning into the Cincinnati Bengals pulling steadily away over the final three quarters en route to a 27-10 victory in front of 63,030 at EverBank Field. "We do have a lot of football to go," Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. "We have to chip our way back." The Jaguars, who rallied for a last-second victory in Indianapolis a week ago, lost for a third time in four games, and lost for the second time in as many games this season at EverBank Field.
For three weeks, the Jaguars could cite several excuses for their inability to sustain an acceptable level of performance: A depleted offensive line, a running back learning things on the fly, one starting cornerback who was injured and another who was being eased into the lineup and everybody learning how the new coaching staff wanted things done while in regular season mode. And they were actually valid. The Jaguars spent September trying to make do without key parts. Not anymore.
Eugene Monroe stood a few feet from his locker, right near where fellow offensive lineman Eben Britton was sitting with his head bowed down, staring at the floor in stunned disbelief. There was a notable shellshock in the Jaguars' locker room Sunday after a second consecutive embarrassing home loss. While some players repeated worn-out lines about executing better, and Maurice Jones-Drew pronounced that "we're going to be fine," there's clearly nothing fine about the Jaguars as their NFL season reached the quarter-pole in humiliating fashion.