The Jaguars held a 16-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter in Sunday's loss to the Steelers.
In a game that was somewhat reminiscent of the Jaguars depressing AFC Championship loss to the Patriots in 2017, the Jaguars saw a 16-0 lead slip away and were completely hapless down the stretch.
The passing offense looked broken. The Jaguars passed the ball just 18 times in this game. Against a Steelers defense that was loading the box against Leonard Fournette Nathaniel Hackett repeatedly went back to the ground. That's never a terrible strategy when Leonard Fournette is back there, but you have to keep defenses honest. Balance is the key in the NFL and the Jaguars didn't have it on Sunday. Some of the blame for the pathetic passing display falls on the play calling, but I believe the biggest issue is Blake Bortles. The coaching staff doesn't have confidence, as we've seen time and time again, in Blake Bortles. And quite frankly I don't blame them. The Jaguars should bench Bortles next week, but they won't.
Even in a tragic loss Jalen Ramsey shone bright. He was, by far, the best player on the field Sunday. His dominance was astounding. He picked off two passes. The first one he baited Big Ben into throwing a ball that he shouldn't have and on the second one he simply displayed better ball skills than Antonio Brown in a 50-50 situation. He put on a clinic Sunday leading the team in tackles, passes defended, and interceptions. After rumors that the Jaguars would look to trade Ramsey this offseason surfaced early on Sunday, Ramsey came out and played his best game as a pro. Hats off to you, King.
The defense as a whole played well, but they couldn't keep the Steelers out of the end zone late in the game. Of course, it's a bit much to ask a defense to hold the Steelers to under 16 points, but the Jaguars defense wilted late in the game.
Leonard Fournette and company were impressive running the ball, but the play calling needs to come into question. The Jaguars didn't try to find balance in the fourth quarter and it cost them the game. At this point it would be a surprise if Nate Hackett returned as the play caller next year.
The Jaguars now fall to 3-7 on the season. They're still not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they're way behind in the AFC South with the Texans winning their seventh straight to get to 7-3 on the year. The Jaguars are closer to the number one pick than they are a playoff spot.
Keep your heads up, Duval. This too shall pass.
Stay tuned for more.
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