Jaguars @ Bills Recap: 5 things
1. These referees are BAD
The referees in the NFL have been much maligned in 2016 not just by Jaguars fans, but by mostly the entire league. The matchup between the Bills and the Jaguars on Sunday was a showcase for bad officiating. Whether it be a premature "forward progress'' call that negates a Jaguars forced fumble and recovery, or a phantom pass interference call downfield that negates a Jaguars interception, the referees clearly lose no sleep over their poor calls on the field. I hate to be the blame the refs guy, but officiating has been so negatively biased against the Jaguars in 2016, it's hard not to notice or take account of. The Jaguars have a myriad of issues with their team right now, they don't need officiating to bring them down ever further.
2. Blake Bortles IS a dual threat quarterback
For whatever reason the use of Blake Bortles athleticism wasn't a point of emphasis under Greg Olson when he was the Jaguars offensive coordinator. Well, Nathaniel Hackett has done his best to change that. Since Hackett took over as the OC Bortles legs have been a major point of emphasis. The 6'5'', 230 lb. frame of Bortles can be a real weapon if the pocket breaks down and it has been as of late. He's rushed for over 50 yards in two of the four games called by Hackett and was able to rush for a career high 81 yards on Sunday against the Bills. Bortles will likely never be a pure pocket passer, so the Jaguars should make full use of his athletic ability. To make this aspect of Bortles game even more attractive is the fact that he somehow has an uncanny ability to avoid any punishment when running the ball downfield. Bortles wasn't perfect on Sunday by a long shot, but he didn't force many passes and he was a major asset in the ground game. This could be a recipe for success moving forward.
3. Yannick Ngakoue is having the best rookie season by a Jaguars defensive lineman ... ever
Sure, Ngakoue hasn't been the most consistent pass rusher in the world during his rookie season, but what rookie doesn't come with out a bit of inconsistency? The bottom line is Ngakoue now has 6 sacks on the season. He's only one sack away from tying Tony Brackens Jaguars rookie record of seven sacks and he's on pace to reach the nine sack mark by seasons end. Those type of numbers would have him amongst the elite all time as a rookie pass rusher. He's not only having a historically impressive year, but he also leads all rookies in sacks in 2016, in a class that features some big time pass rushers. Ngakoue appears to be a natural pass rusher with a huge motor. He frequently beats his man around the edge and has a bit of reckless abandon in him. He's a fun player to watch and a guy that should be wearing black and teal for many years to come.
4. Allen Hurns is off
Allen Hurns, yes the same Allen Hurns that stole our hearts over his first two seasons in Jacksonville after being an undrafted free agent, has something wrong with his game. Sure, he was able to make an awesome catch and run on a screen play that found the end zone against the Bills, but he isn't playing with the same consistency that he has in years past. Against the Bills he dropped an easy catch that could have gone for big yardage and would have easily kept the Jaguars drive alive, but the ball fell right through his hands. A once reliable catcher of the football, Hurns has now made several crucial errors over the past four weeks. Since Nathaniel Hackett has been calling the plays Hurns hasn't eclipsed 2 catches in a contest. I'm not sure what the issue is, but Hurns and the Jaguars need to figure it out because Hurns is fresh off of a 4 year, 40 million dollar contract, so he isn't going anywhere.
5. The defense has elite ability, but ...
They seemingly have mental lapses each week that cost them big time. The Jaguars defense is statistically one of the best in the league and they usually play at a very high level, but there seem to 2 to 4 plays in every game where they just lose their heads and allow a big play based on mental mistakes. Sure, LeSean McCoy can make a defense look silly even if the defense is in position to make the play, but that wasn't the case against the Jaguars. There were mental mistakes and missed assignments on each of McCoy's big runs against the Jaguars on Sunday. The Jaguars defense is very good, and very talented, but the truly elite defenses make stops when it matters most and that's not something this Jaguars defense has been very consistent with in 2016.
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