Jacksonville Jaguars Show Improvement in Week 10 Loss

By Liam Wirsansky on November 17, 2020

On a cold and windy day at Lambeau Field, the Jacksonville Jaguars played one of their more complete games of the season, still falling to the (7-2) Green Bay Packers for their eighth straight loss. While rookie 6th round QB Jake Luton had a more inconsistent game, specific players on each side of the ball and phase of the game stood out and had impact plays that kept the Jaguars in the game. With a 3-point lead in the fourth quarter against a team destined for the playoffs and possibly even further, the Jacksonville Jaguars held their own and proved that losing every game this season may be harder than winning just one more. Not only that, but several young players showed that the future may be very bright for Jacksonville as early as next season if they can handle the front office management and coaching changes and bring in personnel who can cultivate the developing talent the team already has and invest the massive draft capital we already wisely.

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Powered by its potent running game, the Jacksonville Jaguars were able to establish a rhythm and find space in the Packers defense by feeding the ball to RB James Robinson, who carved up the field for 109 yards on 23 carries. A rookie phenom, Robinson continues to shatter records as an undrafted rookie, with his latest game moving him up to 689 rushing yards (5th highest total in the league) and 917 total yards from scrimmage through 9 games, continuing to shatter the record for the most all-purpose yards by an undrafted rookie that he obtained after his performance last week against the Houston Texans. It may be too soon to say, but the Jaguars rookie appears to have the makings of a superstar in this league with his current level of production. Picking up the pace in the last two weeks, the Jaguars must continue to run their offense through Robinson, leaning towards a more run first and heavier concentrated rushing attack, no matter who the quarterback is. Robinson has easily been the best and most consistent feature of this offense, and has proven effective in also setting up the play action passing game when he carries a heavier load. The possible return of Leviska Shenault Jr. in the next few weeks should only open the rushing and passing game up with the wrinkles OC Jay Gruden is able to come up with Shenault on the field.

While going up what many believe to be the league’s top defense in the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers next week, QB Jake Luton faces a big test, but hopefully in a more conducive throwing environment than this past weekend, throwing against the wind. After an impressive performance in his debut, Luton came back to reality and completing 18 out of 35 passes for a meager 169 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. His only turnover came on a slant where TE Tyler Eifert slipped giving the Packers defense an easy opportunity to intercept the ball. As a rookie, his carefulness with the ball should be encouraging to fans, as well as his arm strength that he continues to flash with the longer passes he is able to make. By no means was this a good game for Luton, and he certainly was kept in this game by the team’s stellar defense and special teams play, but undoubtedly the team has been closer to winning games in recent memory than with Gardner Minshew. Luton has not had better play than Minshew this season, but the entire Jaguars team has been able to rally around his skills and elevate its play in certain areas since he took over the starting position.

The defense on Sunday had one of its biggest challenges of the season in facing Aaron Rodgers and turned in one of its best performances, trending down in their points allowed avoiding 30 or more given up for the second consecutive week. LB Myles Jack, who is rated as one PFF’s highest graded linebackers this season at 85.7, continued his dominance with several big plays. One of the brightest spots in recent weeks has been rookie 3rd round DT Davon Hamilton, who amassed 4 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pass defended on Sunday. Hamilton has been a pleasant surprise and one of the highest graded players on defense in recent weeks, adding more consistency and pressure up front from a unit that desperately needs. DC Todd Wash has shown a more committed approach to blitzing since the bye week, which has translated to added pressure. While the team only managed to rack up 1 sack during the game, there was pressure applied by several players, which forced the pocket to breakdown on multiple occasions resulting in incompletions, negative or low yardage rushes, and holding calls on the offensive line. The defense was also able to force an interception on QB Aaron Rodgers, which is no easy task. CB Sidney Jones, who was on the receiving end of that interception, has been the most impressive defensive back on this roster since he joined and put in another stellar performance against the Packers, notching 9 tackles, 2 passes defended, 1 INT, and 1 forced fumble. Make no mistake, the Jaguars still allowed the Packers to gain 395 total yards on offense, but showed major strides towards progressing as a unit and keeping their offense competitive in games for longer amounts of the game.

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Another boost to the offense was the Jaguars special teams, who turned in one of the best performances of the season. On their sixth kicker of the season, the team was anything but certain as newly signed K Chase McLaughlin lined up for a 52-yard field goal to open the game’s scoring. As the replacement for the Pro Bowl level talent in K Josh Lambo, McLaughlin hit both field goals and performed about as well as could be expected for someone who only had one day to practice with the team. P Logan Cooke, who was preparing at all phases of kicking in case his services were needed, turned in an excellent performance, continually pinning the Packers in their own territory to force their offense the requirement to drive the entire distance of the field to score. Perhaps the most impressive play of the game for the Jaguars came from PR/WR Keelan Cole, who scored a beautiful punt return touchdown to give the Jaguars a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. Cole turned in another impressive performance, also catching a touchdown pass to tie the game at 17-17 early in the third quarter.

Looking ahead the Jaguars face a monumental task in the Pittsburgh Steelers this upcoming weekend, but if the play continues to trend in a positive direction, the fans will get a competitive game, which is what most will want with a loss still in play to maintain their draft order. A heated rivalry, the Jaguars have had the Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger’s number the last few years. The coaching staff will hope to build on some of the positive momentum that the team built as QB Jake Luton makes the third start of his career.

Liam Wirsansky is a Senior at Florida State University, pursuing a double major in Theatre and Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT). He serves as the President and Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions at FSU and is also the playwright of the plays, Moonchildren and Finding a New Year.

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