While the quarterback issue has been solved — for now —, the Jaguars have had another major issue which has directly indirectly — or directly in some instances — correlated to unwanted results — penalties. Leading the league with 105 accepted penalties, the Jaguars have struggled to fix their most damning issue, and have lost games as a result.
Yesterday, the Jaguars accumulated 16 penalties against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — the most in franchise history (regulation). Penalties have nullified many potential scoring drives this season, and particularly ruined momentum yesterday against Tampa Bay.
On the season, the Jaguars have accounted for 100 or more yards worth of penalties in four separate games including Sunday. Averaging 8.75 penalties per game — 105 on the year (league lead) —, the Jaguars are one of the worst teams in terms of penalties this season.
After Gardner Minshew II entered the game, momentum was once again on the Jaguars’ side, however their opening drive during the second half was derailed by penalties — at running theme of the season.
Called for two penalties on the drive, Jaguars left guard Andrew Norwell derailed the drive before it could really begin, ultimately resulting in a punt. The Jaguars are not talented enough to sustain a drive after getting pushed back due to a hold or a false start this season, and fixing the issues remains a large concern.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone addressed the penalty issues this afternoon via conference call with the local media.
“Some of those penalties, like the special team ones, we work on that all the time. The holding, the block in the back, that just – you can’t have it. And then you have these unforced errors,” Marrone said on Monday.
“The false starts, you can’t have those. And then when you get to these holding penalties which are hurting us, you have to be in position to do that. Obviously, no one’s teaching it, and we’re teaching them, hey, there will be times where you get your hands outside, but you have to get them underneath. You have to get them back inside quickly; you can’t just leave them out there.”
The NFL has enforced holding penalties in a stricter fashion this season which has ultimately hurt the Jaguars. Center Brandon Linder for example, leads the league in holding penalties with eight. Linder was not called for a single holding penalty last season (nine games). Jaguars rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor is tied for second in the NFL with seven.
While a lack of discipline is the easiest explanation, there is much more to it than that. The Jaguars simply lack the technique — ability — to overcome, or prevent such penalties from occurring. The Jaguars are teaching it, they aren’t telling their players to keep their hands outside, the focus is not there and it shows.
The next solution for the Jaguars would be to simply bench the players with the most egregious penalties, but the talent level to replace that player is simply not there, so they settle.
“So, we keep focusing on it, we keep talking about it. There’s really not much we can do, meaning other players to go to that can play at a level that we need to play at,” said Marrone. “But again, it’s something that’s hurting this football team and it’s something that I have to do a better job of, and the coaches and the players.”
Next season the Jaguars must address the offensive line. Taylor is a rookie, however Linder is entering his seventh season and should not be excused. With a high price tag — $9M cap hit in 2020 — next season, the Jaguars will have to make a tough decision.
“It’s an area where we’re not doing a good enough job, because even though the analytics don’t show it, penalties [and] winning and losing games. But I can tell you this first hand, it’s hurting us from winning games, there’s no doubt about it.”