1. Turnovers killed the Jaguars
The Jaguars committed four turnovers on Sunday, which shouldn't come as a huge surprise as they played in a hostile environment against the Chiefs, who lead the league in turnovers forced. While the Jaguars played their most complete game of 2016, the 4 turnovers were just too much to overcome. Especially when the Jags couldn't force any turnovers of their own, even when their was ample opportunity i.e. Prince Amukamara's near interception that was jarred loose when Tashaun Gipson ran him over. (Hey, Tashaun, that's what your supposed to do to WRs and TEs not your own teammate!). In the end turnovers are one of the most telling stats when it comes to wins and losses in the NFL and the Jaguars just couldn't hang onto the ball to save their lives in this one.
2. So did questionable calls
When I write questionable calls I'm referring to calls by the referees and by the Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. At the very beginning of the second quarter, instead of electing to take 3 easy points the Jaguars went for it on 4th down from the Chiefs 30 yard line. Whether or not you agree that the team should have taken the 3 points, it is undeniably true that this call had a negative effect on the game for the Jaguars. Had they scored the 3 points, they then would have been in a much better position at the end of the game to win it and would have needed just a field goal instead of a TD to win. I am a firm believer in taking points through out the game where you can get them, and said as much while I was watching the game. Hindsight is 20/20, but this team leaves points on the board far too often and I blame that on coaching. The other incredibly questionable call was the call in the fourth quarter of a Chris Ivory fumble on the goal line. It's pretty clear when watching the replay over and over again that Ivory actually scored on the play. But since it was ruled a fumble on the field, the refs didn't see enough "indisputable video evidence" to overturn the call and make it a TD. It was clearly a touchdown in my estimation, and indeed was a missed call. The referees have been much maligned in 2016, due to so many missed calls, not only in Jaguars games, but around the league. Something must be done to address the poor refereeing in the offseason.
3. But the running game showed great improvement under Hackett
The Jaguars offense was balanced, and efficient for much of the day. They ran the ball with ease, averaging 6.4 yards per carry (no, that is not a typo) and racked up 205 yards on the ground. That's over 40% of their season total prior to their week 9 matchup with the Chiefs. The play calling wasn't entirely different in terms of the types of run plays that were called, but Hackett and the offensive staff put together a plan that included new formations, that the offense was more comfortable running. They also developed a plan to attack certain areas of the defense and when KC would adjust on defense, the Jaguars offensive staff would make counter adjustments. It was a really well called running game, and it made the worst Jaguars rushing attack in team history look like one of the elite ground attacks in the NFL. Blockers were physical and Ivory and Yeldon both found big wholes and exploded through them all day. Ivory had 18 carries for 117 yards and should have had a TD, but for the terrible call referred to in the previous section. While Ivory got the bulk of the carries in this one Yeldon was no slouch. On his 7 carries he piled up 33 yards. Adding to the effective ground game was Blake Bortles who ran the ball 6 times for an impressive 54 yards.
4. And so did Blake Bortles
Bortles had a terrible interception in the second quarter throwing over the middle of the field. The defender was there all the way and Bortles just didn't see him. But other than that Bortles played much better. He missed some throws and there were a couple of other bad decisions by the third year QB, but overall it was one of his only decent performances so far in 2016. He was 22/41 which obviously isn't a great completion percentage, but he was able to throw 2 TD passes and guide the offense down the field on several occasions. Bortles was clearly a different player in this one than he was over the last several weeks. I think part of that can be attributed to the removal of Greg Olson from the coaching staff and the promotion of Nathaniel Hackett to offensive coordinator. Clearly Hackett and Bortles meshed well in this one, and this should be a solid foundation for the Jaguars young signal caller going forward.
5. And how bout that defense?!
This was clearly the best defensive performance of the season for the Jaguars. While they couldn't force a single turnover, they were put in bad positions time and time again yet they only gave up 1 offensive TD. Against the run the Jaguars were stout, despite missing their best run stuffer in Roy Miller. The Chiefs managed only 62 yards on the ground on 22 attempts. Even more impressive was the work they did slowing down Nick Foles and his offensive weapons. The Chiefs passed the ball for only 169 yards on the day, and were largely ineffective through the air. The most telling stat though in this one was that the Jaguars defense was able to hold the Chiefs to 1 of 14 on third down conversions. The Jaguars as a whole are normally terrible on third down so holding a usually efficient Chiefs offense to one third down conversion is especially impressive. If the Jaguars defense can play with this much charisma and fire for the rest of the season, it could be a very different looking second half of 2016 for the Jags.
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