The Jaguars were overmatched and dominated in the second half of their Week 4 matchup against the San Diego Chargers, but it was a different looking team that stayed more competitive than the score reflected. While the final scoreboard showed 33-14, the Jaguars were able to move the ball offensively, but came up short twice on fourth down, and were decent enough on defense to remain close, with the exception of a couple blown coverages.
Through the first quarter of the season, blown plays have been the story of the Jacksonville defense, and that was apparent again on Sunday. Eddie Royal managed to get wide open behind the defense twice for scores of 43 and 47 yards that blew a solid first half of play for the Jaguars.
Rookie Blake Bortles looked strong in his first career start, although it seemed as though the Jaguars are still hesitant to let go of the reins on the young passer. The offense featured a lot of short passing and timing routes, which allowed Bortles to complete 29-of-37 passes, yet still finish with only 14 points.
Three things we learned
1. Denard is the explosive back that Toby isn't: Denard Robinson is getting more and more time as a featured player in the Jaguars offense and he's thriving in that role. Eight carries for 23 yards doesn't quite reflect that, but Shoelace showed the type of explosion and vision that Toby Gerhart has lacked in his first four starts with the Jaguars. That's not to say that Gerhart should be benched, but Robinson is certainly a player that deserves more time and more looks in an offense that now features a host of younger players.
2. Free safety is a problem: This might not necessarily be a "thing we learned," as the Jacksonville secondary pretty clearly struggled in the first three games of the season, but the point was hammered home on Sunday: Free safety is the Jaguars' biggest need. Had it not been for explosive plays in the first half that featured Chargers receivers (predominantly Eddie Royal) running wide open, the momentum and score of the game likely would have been different. Even with Chris Prosinski no longer on the active roster, it's clear that Winston Guy and Josh Evans are far from the solution.
3. Ryan Davis needs more snaps: The third-year undrafted defensive end from Bethune Cookman is all the proof that you need that the practice squad is something that works. He has arguably developed into the Jaguars' best pass rusher in that time and has managed to consistently produce pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
So the question remains: Why is his limited time so limited? Far too often the Jaguars forced the Chargers into third and long situations, yet didn't feature Davis in their attempt to bring down Philip Rivers, something they struggled to do all game. You're 0-4, guys, time to let the young guys thrive.