What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Nothing went the way it was supposed to against the Carolina Panthers in the team’s disappointing 34-27 loss on Sunday.
A once proud Jacksonville run defense was gashed for 285 yards, 10.6 yards per carry, and three touchdowns.
The Jaguars, who at seem to have a semblance of a plan on defense most of the time, looked lost and without answers against the one player they should have targeted all afternoon — Christian McCaffrey, elevated himself into the MVP race with 237 yards and three touchdowns on just 25 touches.
And the offensive line, which has seen investments totaling over $100 million dollars and two second round draft picks, was at fault for a turnover (and seven points) and found it difficult to open up the run game at times.
But things surprised us in favor of the Jaguars too...
Carolina came in with the No. 1 pass defense, allowing less than 160 yards through the air per week. DJ Chark eclipsed that by himself with 164 yards and two touchdowns. His 20.5 yards per reception was best on the day.
Gardner Minshew racked up 374 yards and an 8.5 yards per attempt. Again, this is the No. 1 pass defense our sixth round rookie was throwing against.
Leonard Fournette learned that running north-south is going to be far more effective than running east-west or trying to stutter step his way past a defender, grounding out his second straight 100-yard game and his first touchdown of the season.
And, most of all, what surprised me is that I never truly felt like this team was out of it.
Jacksonville was down 21-7 with 13:32 left in the second quarter. Andrew Norwell had just given up an awful sack and Brian Burns returned the subsequent fumble 56 yards for another Carolina touchdown. Even at that moment, when Jacksonville had its largest deficit of the day, I didn’t feel like we were definitely going to lose like in years past. And Minshew repaid my hope in spades, marching down the field for an 83-yard touchdown drive. And then right before halftime, it was a 37-yard field goal drive.
Just like that, the score was 21-17 at halftime.
And after trading touchdowns in the third quarter, Minshew once again led an 11-play, 73-yard drive that ended in a field goal and the score settling at 28-27.
The afternoon ended in a loss, but the hope I gained yesterday makes me pretty not unhappy about it. We’re 2-3, but we’ve found our franchise quarterback.
So maybe it wasn’t such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day after all.