OAKLAND, Calif. – Here’s What We Learned from the Jaguars’ 19-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Cal., Sunday . . .
1. The Jaguars aren’t good right now . . . Let’s get this out of the way early. An 0-2 team that didn’t score a touchdown until the final three minutes of the second game of the regular season can’t be called “good.” That much is obvious. It doesn’t mean it can’t be good. It doesn’t mean it can’t improve. Those things can happen, but right now, the team is struggling in a big way and needs answers. The answers may be difficult to find, but they need to be found.
2. . . . and next week won’t be easy. We’ll get this one out of the way, too. The Jaguars’ next opponent is Seattle, and the Seahawks did look good Sunday night in a victory over San Francisco. OK, they looked very good – even great. They looked like the best team in the NFL and the Jaguars looked pretty close to the opposite. So, next week will be tough in Seattle, and there won’t be many people picking the Jaguars. It’s possible no one will pick the Jaguars. So, there’s that. Now, we’ll get to the details.
3. The offensive line must get better. Did we say this last week? Sure. That doesn’t mean it’s not still true. The offensive line looked a bit better against Oakland, but a bit better meant allowing quarterback Chad Henne time only occasionally and it meant allowing five sacks. The Jaguars also averaged just 1.8 yards per carry. Some of that is on the running backs, but when you’re below 2.0 yards per carry, the offensive line isn’t performing as well as it should.
4. The penalties are too much. The Jaguars were penalized 10 times for 70 yards Sunday. Many teams commit that many penalties and win. But the Jaguars right now can’t afford penalties, particularly ones that extend drives. Two of the major penalties – a 15-yarder on Jason Babin and a 5-yarder on D.J. Williams – led to 10 of the Raiders’ points. The penalties probably didn’t cost the Jaguars the game, but they made the going tougher.
5. Luke Joeckel is still adjusting to the NFL . . . The rookie right tackle was called for two false start penalties late in the game. On first glance, Joeckel didn’t stand out as having struggled more than anyone else on the line, but the penalties as a whole must be reduced.
6. . . . so is Ace Sanders. The rookie wide receiver had two drops early, and that didn’t help the Jaguars’ momentum in the first half. The positive on this front was that Sanders appeared to get more comfortable in the second half, finishing with five receptions for 64 yards. Production at the end of games doesn’t always mean much, but for a rookie looking to get used to the pace of the NFL, it can matter. Sanders’ production late Sunday may have been signs of that.
7. Bryan Anger may be a tired guy this week. He’s going to be tired a lot if the Jaguars’ offense doesn’t improve. The second-year punter set a franchise record with 11 punts in the regular-season opener, and had three more punts by the end of the first quarter Sunday. He finished with eight Sunday and now has 19 for the season.
8. Johnathan Cyprien is starting to get used to the speed of the NFL. It’s difficult to know if Cyprien was carrying out all his assignments at first glance, and no one on the Jaguars played close to perfect Sunday, but the rookie safety appeared active. More importantly, he appears to be gaining confidence and playing with the energy and burst that made Gus Bradley so excited to draft him in April. With experience, it’s hard to imagine Cyprien not developing into a very good safety.
9. The pass rush has to improve . . . As was the case in the opener, there were too many times when the opposing quarterback had far too long to throw. Terrelle Pryor isn’t experienced enough – and wasn’t accurate enough Sunday – to hurt the Jaguars much. That won’t be true of many of the quarterbacks coming up on the schedule.
10. . . . and the run defense must, too . . . When you look at the statistics, it’s hard to know how the Jaguars held the Raiders to 19 points. The Raiders did have five scoring drives, and were able to move quickly too often. One reason for that is the Jaguars gave up too many long, gashing gains, with Oakland finishing with 226 yards on 36 carries. Pryor got 50 of the yards, but running back Darren McFadden averaged 6.6 yards a carry en route to 129 yards rushing.
11. . . . but overall, the defense is surviving. The defense made its share of plays when the Raiders were in scoring territory, and the result was the Jaguars were in the game until the third quarter. The defense held the Raiders to four field goals by Sebastian Janikowski during a stretch from the second to early-fourth quarters. Had the offense been functioning, the Jaguars could have been competitive in the fourth quarter.
12. Geno Hayes looks like a good signing. The free-agent linebacker was a big reason the Jaguars’ defense stiffened close to the goal line. He made two drive-stopping plays on a field-goal drive in the second quarter, and made another drive-stopping stop in a third-quarter field goal drive.
13. Cecil Shorts III needs to be involved . . . earlier. Shorts caught eight passes for 93 yards, with six of the receptions for 63 yards coming after halftime. The Raiders were shading the defense his way, just as Kansas City did a week before. The going is tough for Shorts without Justin Blackmon, but he’s the Jaguars’ best offensive player right now, and must have opportunities.
14. The Jaguars really miss Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis. Not an excuse. Really. The team is just short on experienced playmakers, and the offense should be better when those two players return.
15. The Jaguars have a long way to go. This is not the time for sugarcoating. Is there a long way to go at this point? Yes, there just is. How much progress they make this season, only time will tell.