A disappointing ending to an exciting game that simply didn’t quite bounce the Jacksonville Jaguars’ way in the end.
Essentially, that’s the only way one could describe yesterday’s 33-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
With much to takeaway, here are our five observations from Sunday’s game in Nashville:
Jaguars can’t overcome sharp passing game, one total sack
Jacksonville entered Sunday with one goal in mind - stop Derrick Henry at all costs. Well, that cost was everything as the Titans shredded the Jaguars’ secondary to get off to an early 14-point lead on the day, nearly pulling away from the Jaguars as the first half ended in spectacular fashion (more on that later).
Ultimately, the Jaguars did accomplish what they set out to do. The team would hold Henry to just 84 rushing yards on 25 carries (3.4 yards-per-carry) with a long of just 14 yards. However, in selling out for the run the entire game, the Jaguars failed to stop the Titans’ quarterback, allowing Ryan Tannehill to complete 18 out of 24 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns.
The Jaguars were only able to get to Tannehill one time, while recording four quarterback hurries, one a piece from K’Lavon Chaisson and Taven Bryan and two from Josh Allen.
Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones admitted following the game, that perhaps the team sold out to stop the run a bit too much, a detriment, ultimately.
“I think this game we was probably a little locked in a little bit too into the run, kind of bared our eyes and kind of worked out late to work against the pass,” Jones said following the game when asked about the issues getting to the quarterback on Sunday.
“But I think that’s just how it is with every game. I think moving forward we’re going to try to focus on that more because I really think that was a real big part of the game. I think our DBs do a good job but we just can’t leave them out there covering for about six to ten seconds, so we’ve got to do a better job getting off those blocks.”
Rookie K’Lavon Chaisson notches first sack of career
The Jaguars pass rush was mostly missing-in-action against the Titans on Sunday, however the one sack of the day would come on a pivotal third-down stop early in the second quarter with the titans up seven. Chaisson made a nice inside move on guard Rodger Saffold to make his way to Tannehill.
Chaisson’s sack marked the first - and only - sack by the Jaguars’ defensive line this year.
Special teams sputters, makes critical mistakes
Over the past couple of seasons the Jaguars have had one of the best special-teams units in the NFL. While it wasn’t all bad, Sunday was one of its worst outings. Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo missed a pivotal extra point that ultimately led to a tied ball-game at 30-30 rather than the Jaguars having the upper hand.
Rookie cornerback and return specialist Chris Claybrooks made two glaring mistakes on returns, including a muff to open the second half that nearly led to a disaster as the ball bounced out of bounds at the Jaguars’ 11-yard-line.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said after the game that he still has confidence in Claybrooks, however.
“I don’t know with Chris,” said Marrone. “That’s the first time that I’ve really seen that from him, so I still have confidence, and we’ll work a ton on it going into the week.”
However, the team’s most glaring special-teams blunder would come at the end of the half. After the Jaguars kicked a 35-yard field goal to cut the Titans’ lead to just 11, the Jaguars opted for a squib kick, or “power kick” as Marrone calls it. With just 15 seconds remaining, the Jaguars wanted the Titans to have the least amount of time remaining on their ensuing drive as possible.
The kick would not go in the team’s favor, however, as Lambo kicked it directly to a Titans upman, traveling just 16 yards to the Titans’ 49-yard-line. The titans would go on to gain 16 yards, setting up Gostkowski for a 51-yard field goal, bringing the lead back to 14.
“(Lambo’s) a guy that works his butt off,” said Marrone. “We have confidence in him, and it’s just one of those things that it just wasn’t executed right. It wasn’t like trying to make something happen or anything like that. Just didn’t get into the right area.”
Minshew looks legit ... again
It cannot be overstated how well the Jaguars signal-caller has looked through its first two weeks of the season. For a second-straight week, the Jaguars were in a position to win thanks to Gardner Minshew II and the team’s offense.
On the day, Minshew completed 30 out of 45 (66.7%) of his passes for 339 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. One interception was a miscommunication with two receivers in the area, and the other came on a batted pass that ultimately would end the game.
However, in between those plays, Minshew looked like a star, completing passes to eight different receivers, throwing to 10 total. On the season, Minshew has thrown for 7.8 yards per attempt with a completion percentage of 75.4%. His completion percentage ranks fourth in the NFL.
Minshew has also thrown for the second-most touchdowns thus far this season with six.
We would be remiss, however, if we didn’t mention perhaps Minshew’s biggest blunder on the day. On a first and 10 play on the Tennessee 49-yard-line, Minshew took an unnecessary 20-yard sack, effectively killing the first drive of the second quarter for the Jaguars.
Laviska Shenault Jr. could be team’s No. 3 WR and No. 2 RB
While Jaguars receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Keelan Cole seemingly have the Nos. 1 and 2 receiver spots locked up for now, Shenault has looked like the team’s third-best receiving threat through two weeks. He’s also looked like its second-best running back, and they’ve used him as if he is too.
On Sunday, Shenault received eight total touches (five rushing, three receiving) for a total of 72 yards from scrimmage. Shenault’s five rushes were second on the team behind rookie running back James Robinson’s 16 rushes. In two games, Shenault has registered 74 receiving yards and 47 rushing yards and a touchdown.
On multiple occasions, Shenault looked sensational, at one point taking the ball 14 yards on a hand off and laying into Titans’ safety Kenny Vaccaro.
While Shenault’s rushing abilities will be - understandably - highlighted, his receiving ability should not be discounted. On two separate occasions, Shenault made fantastic grabs, one in high-pointing the football to come down with the snag, and one hauling in a low pass by his finger tips.
Shenault may only be a rookie, but he’s certainly one of the team’s most-exciting players.
Two penalties, and one no-call
The Jaguars struggled in the penalty this week after exiting week one relatively clean. The Jaguars committed eight penalties for 60 yards. including a pass interference by safety Josh Jones that gave the Titans a first down late in the second quarter, leading to a touchdown.
The second pass interference would come with a bit more controversy, however. With the Titans at the Jacksonville 44-yard-line, Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack broke up a Tannehill pass that would have ultimately forced the Titans to punt the football. Instead, the referees called interference on Jack who had tight coverage on tight end Anthony Firkser.
The call, at first glance, looked suspect. Jones stated following the game he did, as well as others on the team, did not believe it was pass interference.
“I mean, a lot of us don’t believe that was really a pass interference, but the ref is going to make his call,” said Jones.
On what would be the Jaguars’ last offensive snap of the game, Titans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney appeared to be offsides. That, however, was not called. If the referees saw Clowney, the Jaguars would have had new life, and the clock would have stopped.
Such is life, and such is the game of football.