The Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday 24-15, in a game that was much closer than most expected. It was a game that saw Blaine Gabbert eclipse the 300-yard mark for the first time in his career and Cecil Shorts III eclipse 100 receiving yards for the first time in his career.
Despite how well the offense looked on Sunday, it could have been better if the wide receivers held on to the football. According to head coach Mike Mularkey, the Jaguars receivers dropped the ball nine times on Sunday, a season high.
"Nine drops yesterday," Mularkey told reporters on Monday. "Those are layups. Those are things we’ve got to be able to put the ball in the basket if we want to use the basketball as correlation to what we’re doing here. There are layups we’re missing."
One of those layup drops left four points on the field Sunday, when Gabbert was flushed from the pocket and put the ball right on Mike Thomas' hands, but the ball was dropped. If Thomas is able to catch the football and turn upfield, it's likely a touchdown for the Jaguars rather than the field goal they ended the drive with.
Mularkey isn't sure what exactly can be done to fix the problem that's plagued the Jaguars all season.
"It’s just inconsistency that we’ve got to … I wish, if I had the answer we would have fixed that five weeks ago because we’ve had more drops than I can ever remember for this point of the season for any team I’ve been on or been coaching with," Mularkey said. "I think it’s just a matter of confidence. You’ve got to have confidence in your hands that you’re going to catch everything. You have some drops if you’re thinking about it a whole lot more than you normally should be."
Mularkey seems to think that the wide receivers are pressing to make a play, rather than let it come naturally, and focusing on what to do after the catch rather than the catch.
The drops on Sunday may not have changed the outcome of the game, but there were points and a lot of yardage left on the field due to the drops, just like there were points and yardage left on the field with errant throws. If the Jaguars passing game is finally going to come alive however, the receivers need to start catching the "layups" with consistency.