It was a game of ups and downs for the Jaguars as they fall to 1-6 on the year after a 39-29 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. While the final score didn’t quite match up with how Jacksonville played, the team’s inability to sustain drives early and late, hold the Chargers with its defense and one costly turnover ultimately decided the team’s fate.
Following the game, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone offered his thoughts when asked about the frustration level from his players considering the 1-6 start, and six-game losing streak. For Marrone, it starts with him.
“It’s always hard for me to tell right now, when you’re talking about how someone else feels,” Marrone said. “I can tell you this, we all feel bad. The one thing you know, that’s out there on the field, is that they are playing as hard as they can. We’re just not making the plays we need to make. That’s on all of us. That starts with me.”
Jacksonville began the game down 16-0 after four three-and-outs by its offense. It appeared at first glance that the game, that ultimately ended in a Scorigami - a final score never before seen in the NFL -, would not even be close, however the team did fight until the end.
JAC 29 - 39 LAC— Scorigami (@NFL_Scorigami) October 25, 2020
That's Scorigami!! It's the 1059th unique final score in NFL history.
The Jaguars offense was able to string together two successful drives that ended in touchdowns on Sunday, including an 11-play 67-yard TD drive that ended in a nine-yard pass from Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II to rookie running back James Robinson that brought the team within just two points.
Following the touchdown, Jaguars rookie safety Daniel Thomas blocked a Chargers punt, and returned it for a touchdown, giving Jacksonville its first lead of the game 21-1
It was the team’s ability to claw back into the game, by way of all three phases, that ultimately inspires even a semblance of confidence from the team’s starting quarterback.
“I think every week there’s good and bad,” Minshew said following the game. “That’s one thing I am proud of. We just have to keep working to put a complete game together. It hurts, but I wouldn’t say we’re discouraged. I think everyone is looking for a solution still and it’s a fight. It’s tough right now, but as long as these guys keep fighting we’ll figure it out.”
Minshew would go on to complete 14 out of 27 of his passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars began the game with an anemic offense, however, it was able to find some middle ground throughout the end of the first half and the third quarter. Robinson, the team’s undrafted rookie running back, rushed 22 times for 119 yards and a touchdown, while catching four passes for 18 yards and a touchdown.
Entering the game, reports surfaced that the Jaguars were considering benching Minshew if the second-year QB didn’t perform well on Sunday. Following the game, Marrone indicated that he was not thinking about benching his young signal caller, and Minshew himself stated the team had no conversations with him regarding the matter.
On Sunday, Marrone opted to go for it on fourth down four times, converting once on the day. It was a philosophy the Jaguars head coach decided would be best for his team given the circumstances heading into the game at 1-5. Marrone also opted to go for two on the team’s first two touchdowns, converting one.
“We start the game, and I think we have four three-and-outs. We get down, then we come back. It’s not my philosophy to go for two that early in the game, but I felt with the flow of the game, the way it was going, I wanted to make sure that I did that,” said Marrone. “Same thing with the third and fourth downs, it’s not necessarily something that I’ve done in the past - I think you guys realized that - but I am trying to get this team a score.
“I’m trying to get them going when we have a little bit of momentum. I think those are critical at that time. You have to be right on it, focused. you have to execute. At the end of the day, on three out of four plays, we didn’t execute. That’s on all of us, and that starts with me. That, to me, is what I’m disappointed in.”
With the Jaguars in the lead, the team’s defense would be relied upon to finish out the game, but, ultimately, they couldn’t get it done.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert completed 27 out of 43 of his passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns on the day, while running the football nine times for 66 yards and a touchdown. He was a touch player for the Jaguars to get their hands on, especially late as he completed a 70-yard touchdown to Chargers receiver Michael Badgley to tie the game 29-29.
“I mean, it’s always going to be a challenge when you have to rush against a guy that can run out of the pocket and get those extra yards,” Jaguars DE Josh Allen said following the game on Sunday. “You know, he had a good game. He got the ball off pretty quick. I felt like up front we got to him pretty fast and a lot. So he got the ball out when he needed to and he scrambled when he needed to, and you can’t ask for nothing more right there.”
The Jaguars landed one sack (defensive linemen Taven Bryan and Dawuane Smoot split), but six quarterback hurries on Herbert, according to the official statistics provided by the NFL. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough to slow down Herbert and the Jaguars fall to 1-6 heading into their bye week.