The city of Jacksonville is riding the high of a Jaguars' season-opening victory over a division rival, and rightly so. For a team that was the national media's punching bag this offseason, to come out and earn a hard-fought victory in week one certainly provides ample reason for civic pride.
But the Jaguars were far from perfect. After all, they did trail for much of the game.
Let's take a look at some areas where the Jaguars could improve moving forward.
Fast starts... we've talked about this one before. But the Jaguars have been slow starters for much of the last decade. On Sunday, they were within a couple of yards of going down 14-0 in the first quarter. Fortunately, the defense stood tall on fourth and short and gave the Jaguars' offense the ball back late in the first. But jumping out to an early lead, or at least keeping pace in the early going, is vital for a team's long term success.
What led to that slow start? It could be a one-game aberration due to the lack of preseason games and overall offseason work, but the Jaguars did miss their fair share of tackles early on in the game, which allowed the Colts to move the sticks several times. The Jaguars only missed five tackles overall, which is far from egregious, but they'll need to make sure they wrap up and collapse on the ball against Derrick Henry in week two.
The pass rush didn't quite get off to the hot start that I expected. They were able to pressure Philip Rivers at times, but he was able to get the ball off without pressure on 80.8% of his pass attempts. The Jaguars will need to apply more pressure moving forward and get home more than once if they hope to slow down some of the potent offenses they'll face in 2020. It's true that the Colts boast one of the best offensive lines in football, but the Jaguars' pass rush needs to be more productive.
I can't be too critical when it comes to penalties. The Jaguars picked up just six on the day, but there were a couple more that the Colts declined. The team definitely appeared to be more disciplined as a whole, exemplified by Myles Jack's lack of reaction after a play in which Colts' receiver Parris Campbell drew a taunting penalty. Still, on K'Lavon Chaisson's interception, the Jaguars committed a holding penalty that negated the game-changing turnover. Continuing to focus on playing disciplined football will be essential.
The pass protection needs to improve. The Colts picked up four sacks, at least one or two of which appeared to be more on Minshew than the offensive line. But to allow 10 QB pressures on less than 30 drops backs is far too much. The offensive line was improved, and it's no easy task going up against the likes of DeForest Buckner, Justin Houston, and Denico Autry, but there are plenty of talented defensive line groups looming on the Jaguars' schedule. This unit will need to get stronger as the season moves forward.
Kick-off coverage wasn't perfect either. The Jaguars didn't give up a kick return touchdown or anything like that, but the Colts averaged 30 yards per kick return, including a 41 yarder. The Jaguars will need to make sure to be locked in on kick coverage in week two and beyond.
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