The Jaguars offensive performance against the Titans on Sunday was an all time stinker. It was the first time the Jaguars failed to score at least 10 points in a game since the 2015 season.
Many fans have pointed to play calling as the biggest issue on Sunday. The idea that poor play calling is what led to the Jaguars offensive woes is flat out wrong. The Jaguars game plan was similar to the one deployed against the Patriots in week two. Yes, the same game plan that led to Blake Bortles eclipsing 400 total yards and saw the Jaguars put 31 points up on the board.
After the game Bortles was asked about the game plan and whether or not the team planned for Leonard Fournette to play. He had this to say:
"It's not all that different of a game plan. I think probably more so Nathaniel's (Hackett) mind of figuring that stuff out. We got the plan early this week and were ready to go and if Leonard was going to be able to go then we were fine with that. If not, we find a way to find running lanes and run the ball. We just have to be better."
The game plan was not the problem. The play calling was not the problem. Stop Blaming Nathaniel Hackett for this loss.
The fulcrum of the Jaguars offensive issues against the Titans was the play of QB Blake Bortles. But he was far from the only problem.
Bortles had his worst game of the season so far. He didn't turn the ball over, despite his best efforts to fumble the ball away late in the game. But he just never found a rhythm. He never found a way to be accurate on multiple throws in a row. He ended up completing 61.8% of his passes, but almost all of his completions were on short to intermediate throws. He was just one of five when attempting passes 10 or more yards down the field. It's almost unfathomable for a QB in today's modern game to only attempt five passes of 10 or more yards during a game. His yards per attempt of 4.6 would be the worst in the NFL by a large margin over the first three weeks. By my count, six of his passing attempts, where there was little to no pressure, were just flat out inaccurate throws. That type of play kills offensive drives.
Bortles was the biggest problem on the day, but not the only one.
There were a multitude of other issues for the Jaguars offense.
Their running back situation was a mess. Leonard Fournette missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. That wouldn't have been an issue but for the fact that second string running back TJ Yeldon was dealing with an ankle injury of his own. He was a force for the Jaguars offense, racking up 44 yards on seven carries and six receptions for 46 yards. But Yeldon's ankle injury caused him to miss a portion of the game and the Jaguars rushing offense took a massive hit without him in the game. Corey Grant and Brandon Wilds played in his stead and produced just 17 combined yards on seven carries. No Leonard Fournette = No problem. No Leonard Fournette + No TJ Yeldon = HUGE PROBLEM. The Jaguars need their running backs to get healthy soon. Their offense is reliant upon having either Fournette or Yeldon or both available.
Another problem? The Jaguars receivers didn't play all that well.
There were several drops on the day by Jaguars receivers. The star of the week two victory over the Patriots, Keelan Cole, was not nearly as efficient this week. Cole had two drops himself. He still ended up catching five passes, but his 40 receiving yards show a huge drop off in his yards per catch. The rest of the receivers caught most of the passes thrown their way, but there was no explosiveness, no run after catch, no spectacular catch, no juice. The Jaguars receivers have got to be more explosive moving forward.
Penalties were another issue for the Jaguars offense. False starts, delay of games and other penalties led to several drives stalling throughout the contest. On a day in which you have to scratch and claw to get first downs, you simply cannot have penalties that put you behind the chains.
Overall the O-Line play was pretty solid for much of the contest, but late in the game Blake was pressured quite a bit. He didn't have time in the fourth quarter and had little chance to succeed in the waning moments.
There were many reasons for the Jaguars offensive failures on Sunday. Play calling wasn't one of them. So, for everyone out their that is calling for OC Nathaniel Hackett's head, please, just stop.
The Jaguars offense, as a whole, was out played by the Titans defense for the third straight game. The Jaguars have totaled 16, 10, and 6 points in their last three contests against the Titans.
The Jaguars play the Jets next week in what will be the team's third straight home game. At 2-1, the Jaguars desperately need to get back on the right track before they head west to take on the high flying Chiefs in week five. Jacksonville's offense needs to put this game behind them and move forward. The Jets defense currently ranks eighth in the NFL and has a plethora of young talent.
PS - The decision to call a fake punt in the first quarter and to punt the ball with 2:51 left in the game instead of going for it on fourth and three weren't Hackett's decisions. Those miscues go on the head coach.
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