The Jacksonville Jaguars were within a score of the Kansas City Chiefs for a lot of Sunday’s 40-26 loss at TIAA Bank Field to open Week 1, but sitting in the stands it never really felt that close. Well, it did for a brief moment, when Nick Foles got drilled as he threw a bomb to D.J. Chark for a touchdown to bring the score to 10-7, but it quickly evaporated even though the score was close on paper until the Chiefs pulled away.
It happens. Games can get out of control, players get hurt, things change. That’s the wild west of Week 1 of the NFL. You have no idea what you’re going to get and things turn on their head quickly.
I’m not going to make any excuses for the Jaguars defensive performance. Point blank, it was awful and I’m sure they feel embarrassed about what went down. That’s not the defense we know and have come to expect and they know it.
“We did not go out there and perform well at all today,” Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey said after the game. “We did not execute and did not have a good game. We have 15 more games thankfully, so we just have to play better and move on.”
Offense seemed... fine?
Leading up to Sunday’s game I mentioned that I was a little concerned the offense would come out and spin it’s wheels since no one played in the preseason and early on it seemed that would be the case. The second drive of the game however, Foles hit the aforementioned touchdown pass and then his collarbone got snapped by the hit he took, which personally I thought was a clean hit.
You felt the wind get sucked out of the stadium when everyone realized what had happened and that Foles had been quickly ruled out after going to the back for X-Rays. To a silver lining however, sixth-round pick rookie Gardner Minshew came out and played exceptional. The moment he was thrust into was big and he didn’t shy away from it. Minshew led a 10-play drive that resulted in a field goal on his first drive, hit D.J. Chark on a deep 69-yard pass on his second, setting up another field goal and if the defense had done their part would have kept them right in the game.
Not only did Minshew look good, but the Jaguars receivers actually showed ability to get open and make plays down the field. The offensive line, which was a major concern going into the game with Will Richardson having to spot start at left tackle, seemed to play just fine. I don’t recall thinking many times that the line got blown up or the quarterback just had no shot against a very good Chiefs defensive line.
The defense, though...
The Jaguars defense was atrocious. I thought the first long touchdown was just a missed tackle by Ronnie Harrison and hey, that happens, but it didn’t stop. It kept going and the Chiefs continuously beat the Jaguars with inside crossers to Travis Kelce and the defense never seemed to adjust to it. Andy Reid knew what to scheme up for the Jaguars and he neutered their pass rush and attacked the middle of the field.
It worked and the Jaguars were happy to assist with a ton of bonehead penalties that extended drives.
There were barely any bright spots to highlight, which to me were both Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen who even with the Chiefs game plan, were able to get in the backfield and pressure the quarterback. I lost count of how many times Ngakoue was this close to a strip sack, but that’s so hard to do against a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes.
The concerning things were how easy the Chiefs picked on the middle of the field, A.J. Bouye getting whipped repeatedly and Calais Campbell looking completely uncomfortable playing true defensive tackle. The team missed Marcell Dareus in a big way, so I hope he’s back for Week 2.
Even with all of that, I’m not going to hit the panic button on the Jaguars defense. They have the talent to end the season as a Top 5 defense and that’s what I expect. They’re going to have a bad game here and there, so hopefully this is one in the bank and they’ll be fine going forward. For one, this will be the best offense and playcaller they’ll play all season.
Last year, the game following a defensive breakdown game, they’d go one to play just fine the next week. You can bet they’ll play like their hair is on fire on Sunday against the Houston Texans.