So far, we’ve broken down the opening drives for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter and the second quarter of the 2017 regular season and things look encouraging. We’re eight games down and the Jaguars have scored 30 points total with just one three-and-out.
That’s good — especially considering the team lost its best wide receiver in the opening game of the season and the team is now leaning on a rookie running back in Leonard Fournette.
But now we’re getting into the second half of the season and the wheels come off. Between now and the end of the season, the Jaguars will finish scoreless on six of their next eight opening drives.
So what happened? Did the team get away from its run early and often approach? Did Blake Bortles become less accurate? Were wide receivers dropping the ball? How did the offensive line play?
Let’s talk about it.
Plays: 25 total (6.25 per opening drive)
Third down conversions: 1-for-4 (25.0 percent)
Yards: 110 total (27.5 yards per opening drive)
Time of possession: 12:35 total (3:09 per opening drive)
Points: 7.0 total (1.75 per opening drive)
For the third quarter, no turnovers by Blake Bortles. We’re getting warmer to why he was offered a short extension headed into this season — he’s able to protect the ball on what I would say is the second-most important drive of the game.
But overall, it’s about as bad as the box score would tell you and our lone touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts would’ve been another punt had it not been for a fake punt call by special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.
So what happened?
Let’s look at the play-calling:
We’ve got Leonard Fournette getting the ball up the middle twice and then a rare opening play that wasn’t straight up the middle with a run off the right tackle against the Cleveland Browns. Surprisingly, three of the first four plays in that game were runs behind the right tackle, despite the fact that Jermey Parnell was out of the game and backup right tackle Josh Wells.
Anyway, the play-calling either doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do (the run game sucked in these four games) or offensive coordinator tried to do things that the offense isn’t really that good at (deep throws by Blake Bortles).
Running backs averaged just 2.9 yards per carry, forcing Bortles into a third down conversion of seven yards or more in three of the four games — and in all three situations, Bortles’ passes fell incomplete. In fact, the Jaguars didn’t run on any of the five third downs the Jaguars had in Games 9-12 despite the fact that they faced a third-and-2 which turned into an incomplete deep pass to Keelan Cole.
Why a deep pass was called on third-and-short, I do not know.
With the run game underperforming, Blake Bortles wasn’t much better. He went 6-for-11 total with nine passes travelling less than 10 yards in the air and two considered “deep” passes. Bortles was 5-for-9 on short passes and 1-for-2 on deep passes. Yuck. And the 6.3 yards per attempt is a stinker too.
And why no intermediate passes out of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett? Granted, his offense had drives of 5, 7, 3, and 5 plays before punting so maybe there just wasn’t enough momentum to get to that part of the game script.
The offensive line was uncharacteristically weak in important times too, allowing two pressures, both on third downs that led to punts.
So there’s your answer as to why this team stunk it up to open the game in the third quarter of the season — the offensive line didn’t play up to its standard, the play-calling was suspect, the running backs couldn’t gain three yards a play, and Blake wasn’t as accurate as he needed to be on the short attempts, which comprised most of his attempts.