The Jacksonville Jaguars crash into the bye week riding a four game losing streak after their 24-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in London. The offense sputtered in the first half while the defense forced turnovers, while the defense gave up a big drive in the second half and it was too much for the offense to make up once it finally started going.
The Jaguars have a lot of issues right now, on both sides of the football, so the question heading into the bye week is what can be fixed and how can they fix it?
Weren’t we a power running team?
Maybe I’m crazy, but didn’t the Jaguars bill themselves as a power running team? I know they lost Leonard Fournette, but is that really a reason to completely abandon what your identity is supposed to be? The team traded a fifth-round pick for Carlos Hyde two weeks ago, a back who is similar to the injured Fournette, and he ran the ball just six times.
I think everyone can agree you do not want Blake Bortles to be throwing the ball 35 plus times per game and he’s currently averaging 36.25 attempts per game. If you’re going to build yourself as a power running team and say your identity is a power running team, run the damn ball. I know there are situations where you have to abandon it, but down 17-6 in the middle of the third quarter isn’t one of them.
Doug Marrone apparently alluded to not having the confidence in the offensive line to commit to running the football with effective results, but that’s a whole different can of worms.
Find someone who can make a play on offense
The Jaguars offense spun it’s wheels in the first half on Sunday, getting just three points off two early turnovers forced by the defense. Some of it was Bortles, some of it was dropped passes and a big part of it was Keelan Cole’s brutal fumble which setup the Eagles go-ahead touchdown and he had another bad drop, which rightfully led to his benching. The in the second half DJ Chark drops a touchdown pass that was a little high and behind, but it’s a catch that he needs to make in the moment. Even with all of those things going wrong you still had a shot at the end of the game to drive down the field and win, but Bortles missed badly on some throws and the ball was given right back to the Eagles. The offense desperately needs to find someone who can make plays on the offensive side of the ball when they come out of the bye week.
Defense has to hold on
I thought overall the Jaguars defense played OK on Sunday against the Eagles, but right now for the Jaguars OK isn’t good enough. I think people’s expectations for what the defense has to do is subconsciously related to how bad the Jaguars offense is and that’s not really fair, but that’s where we’re at. In the first half the defense was getting to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, picking up two sacks, hitting him multiple times, picking him off in the endzone and forcing another fumble. The Eagles picked up 10 points after scoring a touchdown off a turnover, but the Jaguars were very much still in the game at half time and the defense was keeping them in it.
Then after a quick 5-and-out punt by the Jaguars offense coming out of the half, the defense gives up a nine-play, 96-yard touchdown drive and you could just feel the chances of winning evaporating. Late in the game the Eagles were able to pick up chunks of yardage running the ball and just wear the defense out.
The team needs to get in sync
Sunday’s loss was the perfect blend of the issues the Jaguars are having. Early in the game the offense can’t get anything done but the defense keeps it close, then by the time the offense gets out of first gear the defense has broken and given up points. After the bye week the Jaguars need to figure out how to get both sides of the ball in sync. The offense needs to figure out how to get back to having fast starts, scoring touchdowns and not field goals. On the flip side the defense needs to hold on late in the game. Sure, they’re on the field way too much because of the offense’s struggles and eventually a team is going to score on them given all the chances, but they still need to step up and make some plays.
I don’t know how they do it, but they need to figure something out quick. At 3-5 the playoffs are currently a pipe dream, but they’re in danger of the season really going off the rails.