The Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 34-17 on Sunday. The loss wasn't really a surprise. If you were to look at the box score you might raise an eyebrow at the fact that the Jaguars were up 17-0 at halftime and that Nick Foles nearly turned the ball over as much in one game as he did all of last season, but the Eagles were expected to beat down the lowly Jaguars.
Expected, but they probably shouldn't have.
No matter who objective I try to be with the Jaguars or how much I think we're going to lose before a game begins, I still get those butterflies in my stomach on the first drive. Usually the wasted adrenaline rush results in a massive headache after the game that I typically try to drown out with beer, but when Chris Clemons sacked Nick Foles and forced a fumble, it was expended with me jumping off the coach and laughing like an idiot.
That idiotic laughter continued.
Chad Henne got sacked on the very next play, but then Toby Gerhart ripped off an 11-yard run for a first down. After joking before the game that Cecil Shorts III missing the game wasn't a big deal because Henne rarely throws the ball over 10 yards down the field, Henne connected with undrafted rookie Allen Hurns for a 34-yard touchdown strike.
The idiotic laughter continued.
Five plays later Andre Branch, of all people, hit Foles from behind on a coverage sack and forced a fumble. The Jaguars defense once again recovered the ball, essentially putting the Jaguars in the redzone. Two plays later Henne once again connected with Hurns down the middle of the field for a 21-yard touchdown.
The Jaguars suddenly were up on the Eagles 14-0. I was utterly confused.
What was happening? What team am I watching? We knew the defense was going to be better than most people thought it would be, but what in the world had gotten into Chad Henne?
The Jaguars defense continued to stifle the Eagles offense the entire first quarter and the Jaguars waltzed into halftime with a 17-0 lead that realistically could have been a 23-0 lead with a Josh Scobee kick a little more to the right and some better blocking on another field goal.
Chad Henne ended the first half completing 12-of-17 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
In the back of my mind however, the whole time I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and I felt guilty as hell about it. The Jaguars had scored both of their touchdowns when given short fields, but their other drives all stalled out near midfield. They hadn't even converted a single third down yet.
The worst thing that could have happened to the Jaguars happened to open the second half. The Eagles marched down the field in 10 plays and scored a touchdown, putting a dent in the lead and making it 17-7. Then the Jaguars offense went three-and-out, putting the ball right back in the hands of the Eagles.
My guilt was worse, because it was turning out to be true. The Jaguars offense went three-and-out again.
Now I was growing beyond frustration to anger. The Jaguars still couldn't convert on third down. The defense, which had been keeping the team in the game and gifting the offense scoring drives was beginning to wilt and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly knew it. He was beginning to go to the Eagles infamous uptempo offense, because he could feel the defense on the ropes, especially after the loss of safety Johnathan Cyprien for the game.
The Eagles scored again, cutting the lead to three points. The Jaguars went three-and-out again. Then they went three-and-out again. Then they stalled before getting to midfield. Then the Eagles tied the game.
Then the Jaguars stalled at midfield again. Then the Eagles took the lead.
Game over. I knew it.
The Jaguars offense couldn't muster anything in the second half. There were some drops, they couldn't run the ball and Henne didn't seem like he could hit the broadside of a barn on most of his passes. He had three passes tipped at the line in the second half, a stat he led the league in last season, because he was trying to force some passes and staring down first-half star Allen Hurns.
The defense was gassed. All the work they did in the first half giving the offense situations to capitalize on were for naught. The Eagles eventually put together drives and put points on the board. The defense was on the field the whole second half.
Then he overthrew the wide open 6'7" tight end on a ballsy fourth-and-one play, that should have worked.
That was it.
Henne finished the game completing 24-of-43 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He had one turnover on a sack where he was completely blindsided when Fletcher Cox beat Zane Beadles, giving him a free run at the quarterback. The big issue however, was the fact that in the second half Henne completed just 12-of-26 passes for 99 yards, much of that on the final meaningless drive of the game when the final was inevitable.
The game on Sunday was Chad Henne, in a nutshell. Once the scripted plays were finished, so was Chad Henne. When he wasn't handed a short field to work with, he struggled to move the ball. The Jaguars had just two drives in the game that were over 50 yards, one of those ended up in three points and the other ended up in a blocked field goal. They converted just two of their 14 third downs.
It is what it is. Chad Henne, overall, was poor on Sunday against the Eagles. Had he played just mediocre, it's likely the Jaguars win the game or at least cover the spread.
I didn't expect the Jaguars to win the game and had they lost 34-17 without having a 17-0 lead at halftime, it probably wouldn't have been that bad. But, they were and they couldn't hold on to it. Chad Henne couldn't get simple first downs in the second half.
He's going to start Sunday against Washington.