UPDATE (10/29): The Jaguars fired OC Greg Olson today.
The Jaguars have undoubtedly played worse before.
The team – and its fan base – have suffered through several years of ineptitude. Blowout losses have been a norm, as have bone-headed mistakes and glimmers of hope quickly being shot down.
So why did Thursday night’s game against the division-rival Tennessee Titans feel like rock bottom?
A lot of it has to do with expectations. Almost everyone in the Jaguars fan base, and even around the league, expected the team to be much better off than the 2-5 record with which they currently find themselves stuck. Given the team’s busy offseason and supposedly promising young offense, the expectations were not unreasonable.
We could excuse away ugly losses in the past, because the team was still rebuilding and still required our patience.
Now, the rebuilding is over. The patience has worn out, and rightfully so.
Thursday night was just the latest part of the team’s meltdown. Embarrassed fans watched on as the Titans, hardly a powerhouse team, marched down the field repeatedly to light up the Jaguars for a 24-point first half. Meanwhile, the Jaguars kept up their offensive woes behind another dreadful first-half performance from Blake Bortles.
Thursday night was classic Bortles, as the beleaguered QB stumbled his way through the game until the margin of deficit was large enough that it no longer mattered what he did. That was, and always has been, when Bortles shines. Suddenly looking like a competent quarterback, Bortles managed to finish the game with 337 passing yards and 3 TDs.
This is a common occurrence – Bortles plays horridly through two or three quarters, then suddenly everything clicks when the game approaches the fourth quarter. In theory, it’s a huge blessing to have a quarterback that thrives in late-game scenarios.
In practice, it’s terrible to have a quarterback that doesn’t even show up until late-game scenarios.
The problems with Bortles are real, and extremely concerning. His mechanics are really off, and even though it’s been pointed out by just about everyone, it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. He can’t seem to get into a rhythm until the second half, and if he’s not in rhythm, disaster is imminent. Bortles did avoid throwing any interceptions Thursday night, but several first-half passes were so far away from any Jaguars receiver that a defender in the right spot could have easily gotten a clean shot at them. He obviously isn’t a bad player, but apparently something has really shaken his confidence.
The struggles seem poised to continue. Shad Khan remains hesitant to fire head coach Gus Bradley, even with almost every NFL analyst and a vast majority of fans calling for his departure. The team continues to admit in post-game interviews that no one seems to know what the problem is, or how to fix it.
Those dreams of playoff contention are pretty much gone, at least for this season. All we can do is hope that it doesn’t get any worse. If it does, Khan will have to get over his aversion to a mid-season coaching change.
- Allen Robinson made some questionable comments after last Sunday’s game against the Raiders, strongly implying that he sees London fans as being better than Jacksonville fans. His logic was that Jax fans boo the team, so they must not be loyal. Of course London fans aren’t booing, Allen – you guys actually play like an NFL team while you’re there.
- Speaking of Robinson, he continues to drop very catchable passes. Hurns has unquestionably looked like the better of the two Allens this year, even when taking into account the increased attention Robinson is facing from defenders.
- The team managed just 48 rushing yards Thursday night. The running game is no longer “off to a slow start” – it’s just nonexistent.
Next up: the team heads to Kansas City to face the Chiefs next Sunday. Don’t expect things to get much better.