The Jaguars, apparently content with a 5-point lead at halftime decided to take the air out of the football and let the defense protect such a lofty advantage. Inexplicably, not only did Carolina score the six second half points required for victory but they had an offensive outburst of 11 points in one half.
Since the Jaguars only average 9.6 points per game anyone can see how the coaching staff was blindsided that an NFL football team could hammer out double-digits in just one half of play. Nevertheless, the offensive juggernaut known as the Carolina Panthers did just that on an astounding 132 yards of offense.
To the coaching staff's credit, the field conditions were very poor and it was raining hard- in the first half.
"Field conditions deteriorated a little bit, it got a little sloppy for both teams," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I thought both teams fought through it pretty well."
The Panthers did a little better job of "fighting through it" as they actually stuck to their game plan which was to try and win the football game. They did so while their rookie quarterback, Cam Newton struggled to hit the broad side of a barn.
The Jaguars decided to let the rain dictate their style of play which was to run the ball almost exclusively. In fact, during the third quarter the Jaguars ran 17 plays. 16 of them were runs or fumbles.
It's no surprise that a team would want to make the game plan as conservative as possible with poor weather conditions and a rookie making his first start. Still, the Jaguars went above and beyond as if they were afraid to let their young signal caller attempt to make a play, even after he navigated a nice drive at the end of the first half which was capped by the team's lone touchdown pass of the season.
What Should have been Done?
Hindsight is always 20/20, but foresight wins in sports. The Jaguars knew there would be some issues- it's a rookie quarterback making his first start, there always are issues. Instead of bailing on trying to score in the hopes that something horrible wouldn't happen there were some relatively easy fixes.
I'm not saying the Jaguars would have won the game, but I believe the following would have given them a better opportunity:
1) Throw on first down- you don't have to throw on every first down, but enough to keep the defense guessing somewhat. The Jaguars ran the football initially on 9 of their 12 drives and threw the ball on just 5 of their 20 first-down plays prior to the final drive of the game. Ironically, all five of those throws came in the first half in the torrential downpour, the half in which the team scored 10 points.
2) How about a little shotgun? - It's more difficult to run the football out of the shotgun but if the rookie quarterback who played in a spread style of offense throughout his entire life is having troubles with the center exchange with a wet ball, perhaps it would be easier if he could just catch the football?
3) If running is all you're about and you don't yet trust your quarterback, play Luke McCown or run full-time wildcat.- If you can't trust Blaine Gabbert to throw the football unless it's on 3rd-and-long, don't play him. He's not going to learn much by taking snaps and putting the ball into the gut of Maurice Jones-Drew. Perhaps Zachary Miller can be the team's wildcat quarterback, after all he did it in college at Nebraska-Omaha?
I know that players make plays and plays don't make players, but the objective of coaching is to put your guys in the best possible situation to succeed. The Jaguars coaching staff did anything but that on Sunday.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie
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