The Jaguars, unsurprisingly, lost their seventh straight ball game on Sunday. This young team played inspired football and fought hard throughout the contest, but ultimately Deshaun Watson proved to be too much in the end. As the Jaguars finish out this forsaken season, the focus should be on talent evaluation and player development. Focusing too much on the coaching staff is an effort in futility, as they've already proven they don't deserve another shot in 2021.
Luton's First Start
Jake Luton has received some high praise for his performance on Sunday. Making his first career start, Luton completed 68% of his passes for 304 yards with a passing touchdown and added that epic rushing score near the game's end, where he stiff-armed one defender to the ground and then spun his way into the end zone. He showed off his arm strength on the game's first drive, connecting deep down the field with DJ Chark for a 73-yard score. But for all that Luton did well, he may have been the beneficiary of some beginner's luck as he only turned the ball over once, as the Texans dropped multiple interception chances, and when Luton fumbled the ball, the Jaguars were able to get back on top of the ball. It was an encouraging start, to be sure, but a more skilled and disciplined defense likely would have made Luton pay for his mistakes.
Chark's Bounce Back
I mentioned DJ Chark's long score early in the game, but he was an effective target for the Jaguars' offense throughout the contest. He did let one catchable pass hit the ground, but Chark certainly bounced back after two down games leading up to this one. He totaled seven catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. Luton and Chark still have a long way to go with their chemistry, but early returns are stable. If Luton gets the opportunity to continue playing, he could help Chark earn a second consecutive Pro Bowl nod.
A MUCH Better Pass Rush
The Jaguars' pass rush was unrecognizable in this game. They recorded THIRTY quarterback pressures on 44 Deshaun Watson dropbacks. Watson was slippery as ever, and the Jaguars only had two sacks to show for all the pressure they created. But this was an encouraging performance from the Jaguars' pass rush as a whole. Todd Wash dialed up some effective blitz packages, and the front four did their job.
DaVon Hamilton Stacks Big Performances
Rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton has now stacked two big performances in a row. He's been the highest-graded Jaguars player by PFF for two consecutive games. He helped the Jaguars' run defense hold the Texans' running backs to 57 rushing yards on the day and chipped in four total pressures, including a QB hit.
CJ Henderson's Struggles
As well as DaVon Hamilton played, his rookie counterpart on the back end of the defense had one of his most challenging games of the season. He struggled to keep up with Will Fuller, who is one of the more explosive receivers in the game, and allowed three receptions for 99 yards. He was in position for most of the contest, but Fuller and Watson made Henderson pay on his few slip-ups. Henderson hasn't been perfect, but he's done more than enough this year to prove his worth as a quality starting cornerback moving forward, and has an extremely high ceiling. His run defense has also been a major positive for these young Jags.
A New Starter?
Doug Costin entered the starting lineup for Taven Bryan, who has struggled mightily in 2020, and played stout football. He played 29 snaps to Bryan's 23 and was much more productive than the former first-round pick. Costin registered two tackles and four pressures on the day. He was impressive throughout the summer and is now getting the chance to prove he can play sound football on Sundays.
Myles Jack continued to look like the best linebacker in football. He tallied 11 tackles and a massive forced fumble against Duke Johnson. He ripped the ball out of Johnson's grasp as he forced the Texans' runner to the ground. He also picked up a pass break up in coverage.
Laviska Shenault went down with a hamstring injury in this one and did not return. The rookie has been one of the Jaguars' most consistent offensive weapons in 2020, and will be sorely missed if he has to miss time in the near future.
The Jaguars jumped up two number two overall in the 2021 NFL Draft with this loss. The Giants, who were formerly in the two spot, took down the Football Team, giving the Jags the inside track to land one of the top two QBs in the 2021 class.
The Road Ahead
The Jaguars will not be favored to win a game the rest of the season. They'll face the Packers, Browns, Steelers, Titans, Vikings, Ravens, Bears, and Colts. For those looking to land the top overall draft pick, it's well within reach; that is if the Jets can find a way to win a game. The Jets take on the Patriots on Monday Night Football tonight, so keep your eye on the score of that one because it might help define the Jaguars' long-term future.
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