The Jacksonville Jaguars lost 20-10 to the Denver Broncos. Other than the obvious (defense good, offense BAD) what did we see from today that we can carry with us through the rest of the season and into the offseason?
1. This defense deserves better. So much better.
If I was a defensive player for the Jaguars I would be absolutely livid week in, and week out this year. The Jaguars defense once again put together a good performance, allowing only 206 offensive yards to the Broncos, and keeping them to 1-for-13 on third downs. If the Jaguars had any sort of a decent offense, they could have won this game. Yet, with the pick-six by Bradley Roby off Bortles, and failed crucial drives, the offense can never take advantage of the defenses performance.
Against Denver, Buffalo, Kansas City, Houston, Green Bay, Detroit, and Baltimore, the Jaguars defense has put up more than good enough performances to win some of those games. Yet in all of the them, the offense fell flat on its face. The Jaguars have been a top 10 defense this year, and while the don't create turnovers at a high rate, many teams in the NFL would love to have what the Jaguars defense has to offer.
While this defense still isn't elite, one thing that stands out is that even their "bad" players aren't terrible. Guys like Johnathan Cyprien, Paul Posluszny, Dante Fowler and Tashaun Gipson may not be difference-makers this year, but they also aren't black holes on the defense. The days of guys like Winston Guy, Dwayne Gratz, and Jason Babin starting are in the past.
With players like Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Telvin Smith, and Jalen Ramsey, this defense has the opportunity to continue to be a good one. Lets hope the offense doesn't continue their trends into the future though.
2. Allen Robinson's drops and regression are concerning.
While a lot of the offenses struggles has to do with Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson's down year has a bit to do with himself as well. Today's play was a perfect example, as he bobbled a good back shoulder throw by Bortles right into the hands of Chris Harris Jr. for an interception. Not only is this a play that Robinson made last year, but one I'd hope a starting level receiver would make.
This trend is weird though, as all preseason and training camp Robinson looked like the best player on the field. Ever since Week 1 against Green Bay, where Robinson was mauled all game without a pass interference call, his game has seemed off. I'm not sure how much of it is in his head, but it seems to be more mental than physical.
It isn't that Robinson has been bad this year, he just hasn't lived up to expectations. He definitely isn't playing like a Pro Bowl receiver at the moment. Extending Robinson seemed like a no brainer at the end of this season. Now, there is definitely some thinking about it to do on both sides. Heck, even Robinson could want to hold off on one coming off of a down season. Look, Robinson is still easily a part of this teams future, we just expect more out of a guy with the talent and pedigree he has.
3. Except for the last play, the pass protection was excellent.
While the Jaguars offensive line has its struggles, the pass protection this year has been much improved. The Jaguars faced a heavy task facing the likes of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, and Derek Wolfe, and came away with only one sack allowed. Bortles had clean pockets most of the game, and I thought Parnell held up as well as he could against Von Miller, who makes a lot of right tackles looks absolutely silly. I'll have to go back and watch again to really breakdown how they played, but from a first look I thought they did as well as they could vs a pretty vicious pass rush.
4. While Bortles struggles, he should look to run.
At this point it is obvious to say Bortles hasn't had the season a lot of people expected him to have. Whether it is hesitations, or throwing into coverage, it just isn't his year. Bortles seems to shine most when he tucks the ball and runs though, like he did today. His 22-yard touchdown run was probably the most explosive play of the day for the offense. I'm not telling Bortles to get himself killed out there, but if he feels more comfortable running for four or five yards than throwing for it, maybe he should tuck it more often.
5. Malik Jackson has been showing out recently.
Many people have ragged on Malik Jackson for the contract he was given, but he has done nothing but been a beast on the defensive side of the ball the last few weeks. I don't think it is stretch to say Malik has been their best defender lately, which he should be considering his price tag. And since Roy Miller has gone out, Malik has stepped up in the run game, and showed his versatility. That $85 million dollar contract may not be a bargain, but Malik has certainly been damn worth it with his performance recently.