The Jacksonville Jaguars fell in dramatic, wonderous, typical Jaguars fashion to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 27-23.
I could talk about silver linings and dandelions in these weeds, but you know what? It's the fourth year of a rebuild and Gus Bradley lost his 37th game because of Gus Bradley (and the coaching staff he hand-selected). Was play-calling and pre-game personnel moves to blame completely for the loss? Nope. But they didn't help.
So, what did I see today? What led to a loss? And what are some corrections that need to take place in order for this Jaguars team to get over the hump and possibly squeak out a playoff spot this year?
1. Why so stubborn on the running plays?
I'm not so much frustrated that the Jaguars kept going to the well when it came to run plays -- you kind of have to do that to keep the defense honest and prevent a Blake Bortles nuclear meltdown. But the kinds of runs that Greg Olson kept going back to were confusing as hell. The Packers played a lot of seven and eight-man fronts on defense and we ran long-developing run play after long-developing run play. Our offensive line isn't that good. Our running back isn't that good. That's not the strength of this offense.
2. I hate complaining about the refereeing, but...
I don't like to complain about the refs. Most of the time, even when they make a mistake, it's so close that at full speed you can understand why they'd make the mistakes they did. But Allen Robinson was the victim of at least three (and maybe four) pass interference penalties, Rashad Greene towards the end of the final drive, Yannick Ngakoue was held numerous times, and more. It was a horribly officiated game, and the refs made mistakes that slighted both teams, but it leaned towards a disadvantage for the Jaguars. The team still had a chance to overcome it, but still...
3. Help is not on the way at edge
And by that I mean that it wasn't just preseason. The coaching staff doubled down on committing to Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler as their LEO group by releasing Tyrone Holmes and then leaving Chris Smith inactive for today's game. And then combined these two got three tackles and one tackle for a loss. Ngakoue hit the quarterback once (I believe) but it was inconsequential. The answer is not on this roster and if help were coming from outside this roster, they would have signed Greg Hardy already. I liked making Yannick the starter over Dante because right now Yannick is better, but both of them brought zero pressure. I'm sick.
4. The secondary is going to have to carry this team
And I don't like that. I'd much rather have a mediocre secondary and a lights out defensive line because a pass rush affects the quarterback's ability to attack the secondary, but a great secondary won't do the same... at least not as much. Prince Amukamara had a great game, Tashaun Gipson and Davon House struggled at times, Johnathan Cyprien was Johnathan Cyprien, and Jalen Ramsey flashed. This secondary is going to improve with time because the pieces are there. But will it be enough to compensate for such a bad edge rush?
5. Okay, one positive: I liked the aggressiveness
Gus Bradley and his coaching staff did a lot of things wrong. Play calls were coming in late all game and that bubble screen to Allen Hurns on fourth down to end the game was the paragon of Because Jaguars...
This is the play call on 4th-and-short? A bubble to Allen Hurns? Why? https://t.co/5cZTNXiWkH— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) September 11, 2016
...but I did enjoy the fact that we didn't play the field position game all day and let the Packers go up by two possessions early. Gus went for it on fourth down four times today and the team converted three of them. The only one we missed is above. But when you're playing better teams, you have to be aggressive... and Gus was measurably more so than I've seen him in years past.
6. The offensive line wasn't as bad as we thought
Screw it, let's do another positive. Aside from an awful holding call (below) that looked kind of iffy, I thought Luke Joeckel played well.
This was the Luke Joeckel holding call. https://t.co/v0Wz4hY0Uu— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) September 11, 2016
The line did well early in the game on interior blocking, especially on the T.J. Yeldon touchdown. And I'll have to review, but I think they were only responsible for two of the three total sacks. But overall, they suffered more from play-calling then they did from anything else. The Packers were stacking the box and offensive coordinator Greg Olson was too stubborn to call anything other than long-developing runs up the middle.