JAGUARS FALL IN LOS ANGELES: 10 THINGS
It's Monday morning after a Jaguars loss — stop me if you've read this before. This time the Jaguars fell at the hands of the Chargers in Los Angeles. In the Jaguars' first contest at the new So Fi Stadium, they came out flat, per usual. The final score, 29-39 in favor of the Chargers, suggests that these two teams were close, and at times, the Jaguars were close. They even took the lead 29-22 with 2:54 left in the third quarter, but as we've seen before, these Jaguars don't know how to win games. Just two plays and 58 seconds after taking that lead, the Jaguars gave it up, and they'd never regain it.
Here are ten takeaways from the Jaguars' sixth straight loss.
2021 No. 1 Overall Pick Watch: The Jaguars currently hold the third overall pick in next year's draft. A roster that is desperately in need of elite talent, the Jaguars aren't failing as thoroughly as the Jets, who are 0-7, or the Giants, who share the same 1-6 record as the Jaguars but have a slightly easier strength of schedule (schedule strength is the first tiebreaker when it comes to draft position). There's still a lot of football left to be played. The Falcons (1-6), Dolphins (via the 1-6 Texans), Vikings (1-5), and Bengals (1-5-1) are all hot on the Jaguars' trail.
Garder Minshew's play was up and down, as has been the case for most of his young career. He started off the game incredibly slow, as the Big Cats punted the ball on their first four possessions. But Minshew battled back and got the Jaguars in position to compete in this one. This wasn't a performance that should vault Minshew back into the good graces of the fan base or even help him out in the locker room, but he deserves credit for grinding in this one. He's not long for the starting QB position with the Jaguars, but he could be auditioning for other teams around the league or a long-term backup role in Jacksonville. Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone said after the game that he never considered benching Minshew.
It's hard to bring up the struggles of this Jaguars' offense without talking about Pro Bowl receiver DJ Chark. Chark has battled through some injuries this season but had looked at the top of his game when on the field prior to last Sunday. He may not have been getting the target volume that he or the team would like, but he was still playing outstanding football. But during the last two contests, as his frustration has been plain to see, he's struggled to connect with Minshew. Over the last two weeks, Chark has hauled in just eight of his 21 targets. Several of the balls have been off target, and he's let a couple hit the ground that he'd normally catch. He caught only one of his seven targets against the Chargers. Keeping Chark in good spirits needs to be a priority for this franchise. The Jaguars have let good young players walk before their second contract far too often, and as an organization, they need to make sure that doesn't happen with DJ. After the game, Minshew said the offense would take the bye week to work on getting Chark the ball more and mend their connection.
Speaking of the bye week — the Jags don't play next week. The team and the fan base will get a much-needed break after six straight weeks of losing. Following the bye, the Jags will host the Texans, who are experiencing struggles of their own. But after that is when they'll face the proverbial "gauntlet." Over the last eight games of the season, the Jaguars will host the Steelers, Browns, Titans, and Bears, and they'll travel to take on the Packers, Vikings, Ravens, and Colts. These Jaguars, if they don't improve rapidly, will have a hard time competing in those contests, much less winning them.
James Robinson, ladies and gents, is the real deal. When the Jaguars' offense did it going for a portion of this game, it was thanks in large part to the efforts of undrafted rookie sensation James Robinson. Jacksonville's young runner carried the ball 22 times for 119 yards and also chipped in four catches, en route to two total touchdowns. As he continues to grow, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden needs to keep feeding him the rock. Gruden had struggled to call balanced games as of late, but despite trailing by two scores early, he kept getting Robinson, who has been the Jaguars' most efficient and consistent offensive weapon, the ball.
Doug Marrone's football team keeps on losing. Entering the season, Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone was practically giddy about his young roster. But as the losses pile up, he admits he may not be long for this job. Marrone's Jags have posted a record of 12-27 since the start of the 2018 season. While the possibility of the ax coming down on Marrone is real, he remains focused on getting his player and coaches ready to play each week. For Marrone's sake, he'll need to do a better job of that moving forward.
On the injury front: ascending young cornerback Sidney Jones left the game and was evaluated for a concussion. Shortly after, he was cleared of a concussion but did not return to the game with a back injury. Running back Devine Ozigbo left the game with a hamstring injury. Backup linebacker Dakota Allen injured his ankle. Dede Westbrook also injured his knee, and Doug Marrone said that it appeared to be a serious injury after the game.
Laviska Shenault continues to shine. The Jaguars passed the ball just 27 times on the day, but their rookie second-round pick made the most of his three targets. He caught all three for 44 yards and continued to look like a star in the making. What separates him from many of the other gadget type guys is that he's an excellent wide receiver AND has the ability to be an offensive weapon.
The Jaguars' lack of pressure on defense continues to manifest. The team recorded just one sack on the day, and Justin Herbert ate them alive. Second-year pass rusher Josh Allen was on the field after missing two straight games, but his presence didn't make a difference for the Jaguars porous pass rush.
Thing number ten: enjoy the bye week, Duval. Get some rest, watch some college football... do whatever it is that makes you happy. Coverage will be light this week, but we'll get you all the info you need.
Follow Jordan on Twitter for all the latest Jaguars news and analysis.
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