Red Zone Playcalling
Situation: 2nd quarter, 1st and goal from the 2.
Following Dwight Lowery's interception return to the Bengals 2-yard line, the Jaguars open with a first down pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis in the end zone. The pass went through Lewis' hands and if he makes the catch nobody is questioning play-calling.
"That's a losing play," Lewis said. "Settling for a field goal, we don't want to do that. That play starts with me."
Jacksonville then ran some sort of sweep or stretch play on second down which lost seven yards and were forced to throw on third down- short of the end zone as Mike Thomas didn't run his route deep enough. On fourth down the team opted for a short Scobee field goal.
The only play that's arguable is the second down wide run. The reason why Jacksonville ran wide is because they don't believe they could get good enough push out of their guards. A loss of 7 on any part of the field for this offense is a drive killer. If Lewis catches the ball on first down, we're not talking about this and the score goes from 10-7 to 14-7.
For those who wanted to go for it on fourth down, what showed you that they could make one yard on the ground when they lost seven yards two plays prior?
Situation: 2nd quarter, 1st and goal from the 5.
Following a long run by Maurice Jones-Drew, Blaine Gabbert and the Jags had a 1st and goal at the 5. Blaine Gabbert scrambled on first down when nobody was open and his left foot was out of bounds on the 3-yard line as he dove for the pylon. On second down, Gabbert overthrew Marcedes Lewis in the end zone. On third down, Gabbert threw to Deji Karim who was short of the goal line. Fourth down- 20-yard Josh Scobee field goal.
If Gabbert's foot doesn't touch the out of bounds line the Jaguars score on first down, controversy ended. With Cincinnati stacking up the middle of the line of scrimmage, the Jaguars were not able to run the football. Gabbert then misfires on a somewhat open Lewis in the end zone and then Karim doesn't run his route into the end zone. No reason to believe you can punch in a touchdown from the 2-yard line when the Bengals would sell out to stop the run.
On these two series, the decision for a field goal was made on the third down play calls. If the Jaguars had any intentions of going for it on fourth down, they would've ran the ball on third downs. In my opinion, the only play call that was in question was the second down run out wide (1st red zone possession referenced) which lost seven yards. This was a matter of execution. If Lewis catches the ball on the first possession, it's a TD. If Gabbert's foot doesn't go out of bounds on the second possession, it's a TD. If Gabbert doesn't overshoot Lewis on the next play, it's a TD.
Special Teams Was Short Bus Special
My apologies to those offended. Without Montell Owens and Kassim Osgood it was obvious that the Jaguars special teams units would suffer somewhat of a hit. The coverage teams haven't been nearly as good as Jacksonville allowed Bengals return man Brandon Tate an average of 14.3 yards per punt return.
That was the least of the Jaguars problems as Matt Turk, one of the league's worst punters coming in to the game was atrocious in the wind. Turk averaged just under 38 yards (gross) per boot and routinely flipped field position in the Bengals favor.
Return man Cecil Shorts simply has no business being a return man. We're not sure if Gene Smith wants to justify Shorts selection by giving him a role other than wide receiver where he has caught as many passes as you or I. Shorts handled three punts for a total of three return yards and let a punt bounce all the way down to the 2-yard line when he could've called for a fair catch 20 or so yards up the field.
Both Turk and Shorts should watch their mailboxes, as it's likely the Bengals could send them each game balls for Sunday's performance.
"The wind affected us more than it affected them," Del Rio said, adding of the special teams play. "It's unacceptable. There were some questionable decisions. That part of our football team is not helping us."
Another Game, Another Fumble
Although it wasn't completely official, the Jaguars hopes of winning Sunday ended when the longest-tenured member of the team, center Brad Meester snapped the football before Blaine Gabbert was ready on the team's second to last drive. The play resulted in a lost fumble (23 yards) which Bengals cornerback Nate Clements wrestled away from Gabbert.
The ironic part of the play was that Brad Meester refused to snap the football in an end-of-the-game situation just two weeks previous in Carolina.
"It was completely my fault," Jaguars center Brad Meester explained. "Blaine (Gabbert) made a check on that play and at the end of that check apparently he was still signaling and I thought that I had heard something....It was 100 percent me."
Gabbert refused to let Meester take responsibility.
"It is a miscommunication error and we got to correct that because in that situation we are driving, feeling good, we just hit a couple of completions and it falls on my shoulders."
"We've got to get that down and I've got to catch the snap, regardless, period, end of story," Gabbert explained.
Anyone can see that it was clearly Meester's fault, but Gabbert taking the responsibility shows what type of leader he is, even as a rookie. That and his talent are why the team believes in him.
- Expect to see some changes on special teams as Matt Turk will likely be released in the next 24-48 hours or sooner. It's highly unlikely that Cecil Shorts will be the team's punt returner any longer. Look to see Mike Thomas or Rashean Mathis in fair-catch situations.
- It was another poor day for Gene Smith draft picks on Sunday. Eugene Monroe's shoulder injury in the second period caused Guy Whimper to replace him at left tackle. Whimper was very serviceable, but Eben Britton continues to prove that he's not an NFL caliber lineman and Will Rackley seems lost at this level. Derek Cox missed another game with injury and his backup, William Middleton negated his loss as he played well.
- The Jaguars wide receivers continue to drop too many passes and aside from the blown coverage on Jason Hill's 74-yard touchdown reception, the guys simply don't get enough separation.
- Undrafted free agent John Chick continues to play well in pass rush situations as he recorded a sack of Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. Chick blew by Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Despite Chick and Jeremy Mincey recording sacks, Dalton wasn't pressured much and the rookie quarterback was far too comfortable in the pocket.
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
Want more in-depth coverage on your favorite NFL team? Click here and get started today.