JACKSONVILLE – Here’s What We Learned from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 20-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday…
1.The injuries are mounting and … The Jaguars were relatively healthy for the first three months of the season. That changed in a hurry. They entered Sunday’s game having placed linebacker
2… the injuries matter. The Jaguars didn’t play less hard on Sunday. The effort was there, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley talked afterward of how the team again “didn’t flinch.” But at some point, losing starters matters. Defensively, the Jaguars seemed to reach that point midway through the third quarter and early in the fourth. That was when a defense that had been pretty good against the run for five games out of the bye and OK Sunday couldn’t get the Titans off the field. It was also when a 16-6 lead turned into a 20-16 deficit.
3.Roy Miller matters, too. The veteran defensive tackle has played through a significant shoulder injury much of the season and started the first 14 games. It’s not a complete coincidence that as Miller’s situation has worsened the run defense has begun to struggle. Even before being deactivated Sunday, he had been playing through a lot of pain. He’s not the only reason the Jaguars were playing well against the run out of the bye, but he’s the most physical dominant presence inside. Without him, stopping the run is more difficult.
4.The run defense is struggling. If the last two entries didn’t show it, the statistics do. The Jaguars didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher for the first five games after the bye. Those were their five best games of the season as a team, and they won four of the five games. Solid run defense forced the opponent into difficult down-and-distance situations, and the Jaguars were getting off the field more consistently than they had earlier in the season. That’s been significantly tougher in recent weeks.
9.Jerry Sullivan can coach. This has been clear to anyone who has watched this team in recent seasons, but the veteran wide receivers coach has done a remarkable job this season. The Jaguars have placed four receivers on injured reserve this season, including Cecil Shorts III. They also are without the suspended
10.The Titans’ run defense remains good. Really good. The Jaguars struggled to run immediately after the bye, averaging less than two yards a carry in the first two games after the break. One of those games was against Tennessee, which held the Jaguars to 54 yards on 30 carries. The Jaguars’ run offense was better Sunday – a little. Jones-Drew rushed for 45 yards on 13 carries and the Jaguars rushed for 64 yards on 21 carries as a team.
12.The Jaguars have gotten better. This isn’t an overriding theme of the day, but the Jaguars at the start of the season were a team that even when healthy couldn’t stay within 10 points of teams. At the end of the season, they’re very beat up and still competing. The end of the season is drawing near. Injuries have taken a toll. But the foundation has been laid, and an offseason should strengthen this team significantly.