Now that we’re finished with the opening drives for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter, second quarter, and third quarter, it’s time to take a look at the final four games and boy they could not get any worse.
The final four games featured opening drives that went three-and-out every single time. This is not what you want for a team headed into the playoffs — the run game was ineffective, the receivers weren’t healthy, and Blake Bortles looked off on nearly every attempt.
I hate to end on such a low note, but let’s get to it.
Plays: 12 total (3.0 per opening drive)
Third down conversions: 0-for-4 (0.0 percent)
Yards: 21 total (5.25 yards per opening drive)
Time of possession: 4:57 total (1:14 per opening drive)
Points: 0.0 total (0.0 per opening drive)
Buddy, I am sick.
Everything about this stretch of games is uncharacteristic from the 12 games that preceded it. We called three straight passes in Game 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, we won by 38 points in Game 14 against the Houston Texans but couldn’t muster more than four yards in that first drive, we took deep shots early in Game 15 against the San Francisco 49ers, we included rarely used receivers and tight ends like Jaydon Mickens and James O’Shaughnessy in the very first plays of the game in Game 16 against the Tennessee Titans.
In short, we experimented. A lot. With homefield advantage on the line. And luckily, two losses to end the season didn’t mean starting the playoffs on the road.
Why are we starting our game against the Seahawks with three straight passes? They finished sixth in the league last year, allowing just 209.2 yards per game.
Why didn’t we use that strategy the next week against a Texans defense that finished 24th in the league in passing yards allowed per game?
Why did our offense hit a wall early against the 49ers when their defense was in the bottom third of the league in rushing and passing yards allowed per game?
Why was James O’Shaughnessy our target on second down against a Titans secondary that struggled all year? Why not establish the pass with Allen Hurns, Keelan Cole, or Marcedes Lewis?
It was a deflating set of opening drives to watch because nothing was working right early. And yet, three of these games had the Jaguars scoring at least 30 points. Why is this offense slow to get into a productive rhythm?
Part of the answer lies in just how differently offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett scripted these opening games compared to the others. Some of that is due to the personnel that Hackett had at his disposal — the wide receivers were dropping like flies and at one point Jaelen Strong had to be pulled off the practice squad and Jaydon Mickens had to play significant snaps. But the run game shouldn’t have been so slow to get going. The amount of time it takes the offense to get the run game going is directly related to the amount of time it takes the offense to start converting third downs.
These games stunk, y’all. STUNK.