It’s not rocket science. It’s not some ancient mystery that was solved. The solution was always obvious, all it took was a team putting it to film. On Sunday, the Tennessee Titans laid out the blueprint to completely shut down the Jacksonville Jaguars offense.
You make Blake Bortles pass the ball.
We all knew this headed in. Even in the Jaguars blowout win against the Houston Texans, it was pretty clear that the team was actively game planning around Bortles needing to do as little as possible to win and it worked... because the Jaguars we able to effectively run the football.
On Sunday, it was clear the Jaguars were once again going with what they wanted to work and at first it did. The game was tight, the offense ran the ball decently and the defense was stifling the Titans offense. It was a battle of who would blink and who would break through first, and unfortunately for the Jaguars it was the Jaguars. After two straight punts, Cam Robinson got beat around the edge and Bortles was hit as the reared back to pass, fumbling the ball and turning it over for the first time in 2017.
Thankfully the Jaguars defense responded picking off Marcus Mariota, but the Jaguars immediately turned it back over with a pass tipped into the air that was picked off. It was all downhill from there. The Titans took a 6-3 lead, then on the very first drive of the second half Bortles was picked off again on a pass thrown way behind wide receiver Marqise Lee on a slant, which was tipped into the air as Lee attempted a tough catch and it was picked off.
The Titans went and scored another field goal off the turnover, but once it was 9-3 that sinking insurmountable feeling crept in again and was not answered like it was Week 1. The Jaguars crumbled, went three and out and then gave up a touchdown drive to put the game out of reach at 16-3.
The Titans game plan was very clearly to make it so Blake Bortles had to beat them and he couldn’t.
Bortles was 11-of-25 for 89 passing yards the entering 4th quarter. He went 9-of-9 for 134 passing yards in the final period. #Vintage— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) September 17, 2017
Again, this isn’t some new genius plan, it’s just the Titans were able to stifle the Jaguars run game enough until they were able to wear down the Jaguars defense or the Jaguars made a mistake. Once it happened, the flood gates opened.
Sure there were drops. There were killing penalties on the offense. The offensive line didn’t play great, but ultimately the Jaguars have a quarterback under center who can’t consistently hit the necessary throws and has a tendency to turn the ball over. There are plenty of problems on the Jaguars offense, but the big problem is the quarterback and that exacerbates all of your other issues. It makes everything else more difficult.
When you play that close to the vest on offense, you typically can’t operate that way and have success and people in the NFL know it.
Teams are going to do more than just sit eight in the box when they face the Jaguars now, especially with the loss of Allen Robinson for the season. Teams are going to stack the box, man up on the receivers and dare Bortles to beat them. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, they’re still a team that once they’re down two scores it feels insurmountable.
They’re not going to lose all their remaining games. They’ll win a few, probably another one in impressive fashion like Week 1, but for the most part games are likely going to look like this past Sunday. Teams selling out to limit the run game and just waiting for them to break or turn the ball over.
The Jaguars are a team built to sit on a lead.
But the games start 0-0.