The Jaguars have gone down like a snowball during the first quarter of the season thus far. After a fantastic start in the team’s victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, the team has gone on to lose three-straight games, including two-straight games against win-less opponents.
After heading into halftime with a lead for the first time this season, the Jaguars took two steps back, regressing into the typical team we have grown accustomed to seeing throughout the course of the season. While injuries did play a part defensively, the team’s offense wasn’t able to put the drives together when it needed to, ultimately losing in what was more of a lop-sided affair than shown on the scoreboard.
Here are five takeaways from the loss:
Jury is still out on Gardner Minshew II
There is no denying that Minshew has had quite a perplexing career for the Jaguars thus far in his career. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, no one expected his success to come easy, or frankly, to come at all. However, over the past 16 games he has started, there is now a baseline for his success, and while it appears promising, there are still some questions left to be answered.
Over his 16 games started over the past two seasons, Minshew has taken the Jaguars to a 7-9 record, respectable for a player no one thought was good enough to be a starting quarterback heading into the draft, at least not that early. He’s completed 62.4% of his passes, thrown for 3,987 yards, 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions with a 7.1 yards-per-attempt average, while also rushing for 399 yards in his own right.
Those statistics, however, do not tell the complete story. Following the Bengals regaining a lead coming out of halftime, 17-13, Minshew and the Jaguars dropped back to throw the football six times with four incompletions, one completed pass for seven yards and a sack. The next time the Jaguars got the ball back following their two drives, the Bengals were up 27-13.
In those critical moments, Minshew was unable to help the team’s offense sustain its earlier success, and enabled the Bengals to pull away. While he has had success, the jury is still out on the team’s leading signal-caller.
James Robinson must become the focal point
It is almost crazy to think that an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State would be as successful as he has been, however, Robinson has been that and more, able to become the team’s featured tailback through just four games on the year.
After winning the offensive rookie of the month award for the month of Sept., Robinson once again showcased his talents by way of 17 rushes for 75 yards and four receptions for 32 yards, he also had a 40-yard run in the third quarter called back due to a holding penalty.
Through three games, Robinson had been stopped for negative yardage 0 times. Yesterday, on a play that had no chance, the tailback was finally topped behind the line of scrimmage, but otherwise showed promise throughout the game. The Jaguars must find a way to get one of their best offensive players the football more often, taking pressure off of the quarterback no matter the score.
On the year, Robinson has rushed for 285 yards and three touchdowns on 60 carries (4.8 yards-per-carry) and has caught the football 14 times for 161 yards. His 446 all-purpose yards are by far the most on the team, and the Jaguars and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will need to find a way to continue getting him more involved.
Defensive struggles are not going to be fixed
While the Jaguars have stressed the importance of a defensive turnaround, it simply has not come to fruition. After giving up 20 points to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, the team has given up an average of 32.33 points-per-game over the last three weeks, including the loss on Sunday in which the defense gave up 33 points, 23 in the second half.
The Jaguars have been incapable of stopping the opposing passer throughout the course of the season. They’ve given up a completion percentage of 77% through the first four games, including 80% through the first three games of the season, allowing Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to complete a staggering 90% of his passes on Thursday Night Football.
The Jaguars’ woes on defense haven’t just come from the secondary, however. The team’s pass rush simply isn’t getting home, and it doesn’t look like help is on the way. After spending two first round picks dating back to 2019 on the team’s pass rush in defensive ends Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson, the team hasn’t found success. Both Allen and Chaisson have combined for two sacks, while the rest of the defensive line has laid a big goose egg.
Following the game on Sunday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said the team needs to take advantage of the situations they’ve been put in, and to simply coach it better at the end of the day.
“I thought they got us in some one-on-ones and I’ll probably go back and look and I’m sure some of our guys will look at it and say, ‘Gosh, we need to win more in that situation,’” said Marrone. “And for us as coaches, we’ve just got to help them out. You know, put them in better situations, really get better plans on how we want to pass rush these guys, and go out there and execute it, because that’s what we have to do a better job of for sure.”
The Jaguars were unable to land a single sack against Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, an offense that had given up 14 sacks through three games, including eight in week three. Help isn’t on the way, and unless the Jaguars pass rushers suddenly have the light turn on, it may be another long season for the team’s defense.