The Jaguars are now in the midst of a six-game losing streak. The team sits at 2-9 after Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills, second only to the lowly Cleveland Browns for most losses in the AFC. It has what amounts to a lame-duck coaching staff, as Gus Bradley and many of his assistants are almost guaranteed to get fired over the offseason. Players are venting in the media. Their star quarterback has often looked like a second coming of Blaine Gabbert.
There hasn’t been a lot to be optimistic about in 2016 for Jaguars fans. That’s why the team’s performance on Sunday, even in a loss, was a welcomed sight.
The offense, in particular, looked a lot better than it often has during this losing streak. The team put up 21 points, gaining 301 total offensive yards. Most notably, the team did not turn the ball over at all.
Struggling QB Blake Bortles played his best game in a while despite throwing for only 126 yards. He was efficient, throwing for 2 touchdowns. His 50% completion percentage was more a result of dropped passes than inaccurate throws, although there were a couple of the wobbly, off-target ones that have become his trademark as of late.
Bortles ran for 81 yards as well, continuing to be one of the league’s most mobile quarterbacks.
Chris Ivory got off to a hot start, adding 44 yards and a touchdown, but went down with an injury in the first half.
The defense, however, was not up to its usual standards.
The unit was highly successful in the first half, getting at Bills QB Tyrod Taylor several times and holding LeSean McCoy to single-digit yardage. They even forced a fumble from McCoy, but it was missed by the referees who had whistled the play dead too early.
In the second half, though, they fell apart. McCoy scored on a 75-yard run, prompting a hot streak from the Bills’ offense. Two drives later, Taylor completed a 62-yard pass to Sammy Watkins.
On the Bills’ final touchdown drive, Tashaun Gipson had an interception negated by a penalty.
The offense had a chance to win the game on its final drive. On 3rd and 4 at their opponent’s 40 yard line, Bortles passed to Allen Robinson. It fell incomplete, but Robinson was held on the play. The officiating crew missed this, and no penalty was called. Multiple Jaguars players commented on the no-call after the game.
The penalty would have prompted a first-down, and advanced the ball to the spot of the foul. Instead, the team got distracted by the no-call and as a result, they were whistled for a delay-of-game penalty.
On the resulting 4th and 9 play, Bortles passed to Marqise Lee for a 4-yard gain to end the possession.
The Jaguars came up short on Sunday largely because of a few big plays given up by the defense, and maybe a couple of questionable calls by the refs, but for the first time in a while it wasn’t because of the offense.
Hopefully the offense will be able to capitalize on the momentum from this game going forward and turn things around, giving fans a reason to be hopeful for next season.
It may not be much, but it’s something.
- Rashad Greene has been struggling this season as punt returner, and Sunday was no exception. Greene fumbled two punts in a row before sitting down with an injury.
- Gus Bradley and the coaching staff made a critical error in the first half when they elected to re-punt following a 4th down penalty by the Bills defense. The first punt had resulted in only a small gain. The re-punt resulted in the Bills getting to the Jags’ 22 yard line; they would later score on the same drive.
- Marqise Lee had a TD reception for the second straight game. Lee has emerged as Bortles’ safest option with Robinson and Allen Hurns both dropping several passes this season.
Next week, the Jaguars are back in Jacksonville to take on the defending champion Denver Broncos. What could possibly go wrong?