It's all doom and gloom in these parts after a soul-crushing 37-19 loss to the Titans. Plenty went wrong for the Jaguars in week five. From a lack of cohesion within the coaching staff to disconnects between the coaches and the players, to poor situational management, to underwhelming performances from certain individuals, to some head-scratching officiating, this was a contest the Jaguars will undoubtedly want to put in the rearview. I broke down everything that went wrong for the Jaguars on Sunday in what was their 20th consecutive loss. You can read that here.
But there were more than a handful of quality performances from the players on the field, and those deserve to be highlighted as well.
The only force on earth that could stop running back James Robinson on Sunday was his own coaching staff. Robinson carried the ball 18 times for 149 yards, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. He ran through, around, and past Titans defenders. Even if you take away his 58-yard scamper early in the game, Robinson still averaged over 5.3 yards a pop. He's having one of the most impressive seasons we've seen from a Jaguars running back in a long, long time. Of course, his coaches took him out on fourth and goal and stopped feeding him down the stretch, but make no mistake: this guy is playing at an elite level.
The big boys up front, including tight end Chris Manhertz, did well to give James Robinson room to work. And the interior of the offensive line provided a structurally sound wall for Trevor Lawrence. Left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder (who left the game with ankle and MCL injuries), and right guard Ben Bartch played complete games. They deserve a ton of credit for the offensive production on Sunday. Jawaan Taylor played well too, but his two penalties overshadowed the rest of the work he did against the Titans.
The receivers, outside of a couple of mishaps, did their job as well. Dan Arnold was targeted heavily by Trevor Lawrence, catching six of eight targets for 64 yards. The two passes that hit the turf were questionable. The first was a blatant pass interference in the endzone that the back judge decided not to call. The second was more uncertain, but it still looked like the defender twisted Arnold's body while the ball was in the air; another no-call.
Laviska Shenault Jr. was somehow targeted just two times. But he created separation on more than a handful of occasions and turned in one of the highlights of week five. He caught a Trevor Lawrence pass deep over the middle and proceeded to break five tackles, capping off his 58-yard catch and run with a violent stiff arm that left a Titans' defender grasping at air.
Veteran Tavon Austin caught all six passes thrown his way, helping keep the Jaguars in favorable situations offensively.
The first overall pick, Trevor Lawrence, played at a winning level for the second consecutive week. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 273 yards and two total touchdowns. He was robbed of a third touchdown by a questionable-at-best overturned score in the second half. His lone turnover came in garbage time on the final play of the game. Lawrence also contributed 28 yards on seven carries. His strong right arm, legs, and ability to avoid making the same mistake twice allow the Jaguars to move the ball up and down the field with regularity. Lawrence had a couple more "wow" throws in this game. He missed by just a hair on a couple of passes but overall did more than enough to help the Jaguars' offense play efficient football.
Defensively, the Jaguars struggled to keep the Titans' attack at bay. Even though seven of the Titans' 37 points came from a questionable fumble call on the Jaguars' first offensive drive of the game, the defense still let up 30 points in this one. But don't let that stop you from acknowledging some of the more impressive performances from Jaguars' defenders.
Edge Rusher Josh Allen played like a star. In need of a bounce-back following a disappointing performance on Thursday Night Football against the Bengals, Allen played one of his best games of the season. He turned in four pressures, a sack, a quarterback hit, two run-stuffs, and a batted pass to go along with seven total tackles. He was everywhere for the Jaguars' defense and had an overall positive impact against Derrick Henry and the Titans' rushing attack. His four pressures on 20 pass-rush snaps — a twenty percent pass-rush win rate — classifies as an elite pass-rushing performance in my book.
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot wasn't much help as a run defender, but against the pass, he did his part and then some. He took part in two sacks and applied three total pressures.
K'Lavon Chaisson came alive in this contest, finally looking the part of a first-round pick. The second-year edge rusher chipped in with half a sack, two quarterback hits, and three run-stuffs.
While the edge rush came to life in week five, I'd caution against looking at these performances as a turning point. The Titans have allowed the most sacks in football this season, so this might be the worst pass protecting O-line in the league. Still, the edge rushers got the job done against the Titans and will try to build off that moving forward.
Second-year defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton was a stalwart against the run on the interior. He contributed four run stops, rendering the Titans' interior rushing attack largely ineffective.
Shaq Griffin played at a high level for the third consecutive week. The cornerback was targeted just three times in coverage. He allowed one 10-yard completion to AJ Brown and a 26-yarder to speedster Chester Rodgers. But he also picked up a pass breakup covering AJ Brown that was breathtakingly close to being an interception. You'd like to see Griffin capitalize on some of his near-interceptions, but the guy is playing at a level where he's helping the defense week in and week out.
Cornerback Nevin Lawson, who signed with the Jaguars after week two of the regular season, replaced Chris Claybrooks in the second half and held up in coverage. He didn't allow a completion in eight coverage snaps. He might figure to earn a more prominent role moving forward, especially with the struggles of Chris Claybrooks, Tyson Campbell, and Tre Herndon.
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