1. Blake Bortles isn't improving
Everyone hoped that plugging in a new play caller with 9 games left in the season would help the Jaguars offense and their struggling third year QB Blake Bortles find a pulse following one of the most disappointing first halves of a season in Jaguars history. And for a game it did, but reality has set in. Blake Bortles level of play has become so poor in year three that he is literally costing his team games with his poor play. The Jaguars could easily be sitting where the Lions are right now at 6-4 if they just had a QB that could manage football games. Bortles threw two more interceptions this Sunday against the Lions, putting his season total at 13 and giving him a share of the lead for the most interceptions in the NFL in 2016. This came against a Lions defense that was almost as inept as the Jaguars at forcing turnovers, they only had 4 INTs heading into the contest yesterday, but of course they were able to improve on that number by 50% in just one game against the Jags. The Jaguars simply won't be able to win many games, if any, the rest of the season if Bortles continues to turn the ball over at such a high clip.
2. And neither is the running game
It is now abundantly clear that the impressive performances by the Jaguars running game against the Colts and the Chiefs were aberrations. They've had in earnest only two solid rushing performances in 2016. Yesterday they attempted to pound the rock with Chris Ivory after T.J. Yeldon left the game with an ankle injury. But to no avail, as he picked up just 39 yards on 17 carries. The Jaguars running game might be the biggest disappointment on the whole team, save the massive regression by their once promising young QB. The Jaguars will have an incredibly tough time the rest of the season facing the Titans and Texans who have both already beaten the Jags once in 2016, and the Bills, Broncos, and Vikings who have all shown the ability to win football games this year.
3. But the defense found a way to get to the QB, and force turnovers
The Jaguars defense played lights out on Sunday. It's no coincidence that when you find a way to put pressure on the QB, it in turn makes it easier to turn the other team over. While neither of Detroit's two lost fumbles on the day came directly from the Jaguars pass rush, it is clear that the more you get after the QB, the better chances you have of turning your opposition over. The Jaguars got to Stafford 3 times, with sacks coming from Tyson Alualu, Malik Jackson, and Yannick Ngakoue. The Jaguars broke their streak of over 5 games without forcing a turnover, gave up only 1 TD to Detroit's high powered offense, and gave up less than 300 yards of total offense, yet somehow the team managed to lose this one. This defense is for real and is built for the long haul. As long as the Jaguars front office can keep these pieces together this defense will be a strong unit for years to come.
4. And Marqise Lee continues to be the Jaguars best playmaker.
This season has been the definition of a break out for the young Marqise Lee. After struggling with injuries during his first two seasons in the NFL Lee has found his groove and has stayed healthy so far in 2016. Yesterday he had a 42 yard kick return, a nice 6 yard run where he made a defender miss, and caught the ball four times for 52 yards and a score. His first score of the season came on a short end zone throw from Bortles where Lee elevated above the defender to put 6 on the board, but even more impressive than the TD catch was the play he made to put the Jaguars in position to score on that very same drive. Just before his 3 yard TD catch Lee caught arguably the most impressive catch of any Jaguar player in 2016 making a 29 yard sideline grab as he streaked past defenders. On the play Lee made an incredible adjustment on the ball and was somehow able to keep both feet in bounds while maintaining possession of the ball all the way to the ground. Lee has been the Jaguars most consistent offensive weapon this year, and finally looks like the player than won the Biletnikoff Award (Best WR in college football) in his sophomore season at USC.
5. And the Jaguars found a new way to lose
Yeah, Blake Bortles threw a pick six -- what's new? Well, how about the Jaguars giving up a punt return TD, yep, that's a new one! While the Jaguars nearly always throw a couple INTs every game, and like to put the ball on the ground regularly, this week they found a new way to dig themselves a hole. With 11:13 left in the first half Brad Nortman punted the ball to the Lions own 45, where Andre Roberts stood waiting, and the rest is history. Roberts caught the punt and seemingly ran past every player on the Jaguars coverage unit to find his way to pay dirt. No, this one play alone did not cost the Jaguars the football game, but the Jaguars routinely put themselves in negative situations with mental lapses like this one. Winning teams don't shoot themselves in the foot like the Jaguars do, and thus the Jaguars do not win.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering the Jaguars are now 14-44 under Gus Bradley.
Happy Monday and Go Jags!
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