1. That really sucked
No matter how you want to paint the picture on this game, it all comes down to one overall feeling at the end -- it sucked. It was a punch in the gut. It wasn't just another loss, one of 26 during the Bradley/Caldwell era, but this loss was one that was eye opening for all the bad reasons. Most, including myself, came into this came thinking the Jaguars offense made a large step forward this offseason and would produce against the banged-up Panthers.
One week does not make a season, and I do not know what the rest of the Jaguars schedule holds in store for them, but I do know that this game simply sucked.
2. The defense was up-and-down, but still better than expected
The defense played well all in all I think, but some context is needed. The Panthers were missing multiple wide receivers and offensive line, and the wide receivers they did play weren't exactly setting the world on fire, so it is not like they were much of a formidable test. Still, holding the Panthers to 3.0 yards-per-carry is something I didn't expect at all. The defense was rough to start the game and then folded on the final drive, but the fact that they were not the reason this game was lost is surprising to me, as backhanded as a compliment as that might sound.
3. Yeldon shook off rookie rust
Yeldon averaged 4.2 yards a carry and had multiple runs over 10 yards. He was seeing holes, making defenders miss, and was a factor as both a receiver and a blocker. It got to the point where I was actually frustrated that the Jaguars weren't trying to put more on his plate. I can understand not wanting to overwhelm a rookie, but Yeldon made good things happen, and the Jaguars needed those to keep happening. As someone who was not a fan of the Yeldon pick when it was made, I can say I grew a lot more confident in his ability this week.
4. Time for me to give Poz credit
Ever since I started writing at Big Cat Country in 2013, I've gone above and beyond to display my displeasure with Paul Posluszny as a player. But today, he made me eat those words.
He had what I think was by far his best game in a Jaguars uniform. His interception was a play I never thought he could make, and he was all over the field vs the run, making a good number of tackles at or near the line of scrimmage. My opinion on Poz is relatively the same, but today that doesn't really matter. He played great.
5. Where should the blame go?
A lot of people are already jumping ship, asking what week it will be that Bradley loses his job. I can't really go to bat for Bradley; you just can't do it for a coach who has won seven games in 33 attempts. But I will say I do not think he deserves the brunt, or honestly nearly any, of the blame for this game outside of the fact that he was the head coach of the losing team. I think this game was lost because of stupid mistakes, such as interceptions, dropped passes, etc...
Gus Bradley is responsible for wins and losses, but he can't go out there and play the game.
Offensive Player of the Week: T.J. Yeldon.
Yeldon surpassed expectations and looked like an NFL quality player on nearly every snap. He needs to get more than 12 carries against the Miami Dolphins next week.
Defensive Player of the Week: Poz.
Poz could have not played another play after his pass break up and interception plays and still would have won this.
Best Play: The last one, because that signaled this game was over. (If you could not tell from the overall tone of this article, I didn't enjoy this game very much.)
Rookie of the Week: T.J. Yeldon.
Hanxed It Award: The play calling and decision-making by Blake to not throw one pass to a tight end.
After all of the offseason talk about how involved the tight ends would be and how well they played in the preseason, and they don't see a single target? I know Julius Thomas being out is a big blow, but this was ridiculous.