Without two starting offensive linemen the Jaguars didn’t have much to offer the Arizona Cardinals on that side of the ball. For the second week, Patrick Omameh and Jeremy Parnell weren’t in the lineup and it showed in pass protection as in the running game.
Against Cleveland last week, they got away with not much offense, getting a strong, points-scoring performance from their defense beating a Browns team that couldn’t muster much offense.
In Arizona, it was a different story as the Blaine Gabbert led Arizona offense was able to not turn the ball over, take advantage of field position and score 13 points in the first half to lead 13-3. There wasn’t anything pretty about it on either said of the ball. Field goals and a blown coverage by the Jaguars when Telvin Smith went out of the game with a concussion led to the only touchdown of the half.
After another Phil Dawson field goal made it 16-3, the Jaguars went seven plays for 75 yards to make it a one score game. Blake Bortles was the leading rusher in the game for the Jaguars with six carries for 62 yards and he scored on a 4th down naked bootleg. But when *Bortles is the leading rusher for the Jaguars it means the running game is not working. Leonard Fournette had 12 carries for 25 yards and never got going as evidenced by his longest run was eight yards.
So that leaves it up to the defense, again. A great rush up field by Yannick Ngakoue forced Gabbert to step up, giving Ngakoue another chance. The Jaguars defensive end took advantage of the situation, sacking Gabbert and hacking the ball out at the ten-yard line. That’s when Calais Campbell scooped it up and scored, giving the Jaguars a 17-`6 lead. As a free-agent acquisition, Campbell has been the biggest boon to the Jaguars, but he’s still a popular player in Arizona and no doubt he was feeling pretty good scoring a touchdown against his former team.
But as good as they played, one mistake by the defensive backfield let a receiver get behind them and score on a 52 yard pass from Gabbert. The two-point conversion was good and the Cardinals had a 7-point, 24-17 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Corey Grant brought it back inside the Cards, 40 and four plays later, Bortles scored again, this time from 17-yards out on a QB “read-option” play to tie the game at 24.
It had all the feel of and overtime game when the defense forced a three and out and the Jaguars offense took over deep in their own territory. A run on first down ran some clock and it appeared that Head Coach Doug Marrone was willing to get the game to overtime and take his chances. But a pass on second down was flat-out dropped by Marqise Lee to stop the clock. A run on third down allowed Arizona to call their final time out, making the Jaguars punt the ball.
“That’s my fault, “Marrone said after the game. “I got greedy and threw the ball on second down. Just should have run it and gone to overtime.”
While it’s laudable that Marrone would take responsibility for the call, you’d expect a professional receiver to make a catch of a ball right in his hands. But Lee didn’t do that, and it set up the losing end-game scenario for the Jaguars.
All along we’ve know how talented Gabbert is with quarterback skills and the two throws he made to get Arizona into field goal position were lasers and perfect. He doesn’t do that often, but when he does you see why so many coaches think he can be a big time player because he has a great arm and can really throw the “high hard one” as they say in the league.
That set up a 57-yard field goal attempt by Phil Dawson, which would be the longest of his long career. It was good with one second left on the clock and left the Jaguars on the wrong end of a 27-24 final.
At 7-4 the Jaguars are now tied for first again with the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South. Three consecutive home games start with the Colts in Jacksonville next Sunday at 1 o’clock.
Is there anything good that comes out of this loss? I don’t think any reasonable person thought the Jaguars would win out and go 13-3 so perhaps a loss like this will re-focus the team on what got them winning games. Their margin for error is small with the injuries up front and how the offense is performing. It’s not all on Bortles who’s playing without his top two receivers in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. He can play better, but the receivers, Lee, Cole and Westbrook are going to have to make some plays to help him out and get the offense untracked.
As Coughlin says, some of these guys will have to play “above the x’s and o’s.”