The Jacksonville Jaguars were competitive for the better part of 60 minutes in Sunday's 20-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Still, breakdowns occurred far too often on the offensive side of the ball.
“It is a good learning opportunity," Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles explained after the game. "Obviously we struggled. We started slow. We had a lot of missed opportunities. It wasn’t so much what they did to us, but it was us beating ourselves. Its fixable things, which it’s good stuff to learn from. And we will learn from it and move on quickly.”
We're now going to assign blame on the approprate parties for what happened.
Jaguars Wide Receivers- 35 Percent
The Jaguars wide receivers were pretty bad on Sunday. Not only did they get very little separation, they dropped far too many catchable passes which killed drives and momentum. Add in a fumble by Allen Hurns and a promising young group really looked like what many on the outside believe, a mediocre to bad set of weapons by NFL standards.
"We dropped a pass on the two yard line, three yard line and those things right there we’ve got to make those plays," Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley explained. "Catch the balls that are thrown to you, that type of mentality and I believe in these guys. Rashad Greene, I believe in him very, very strongly. He came back from that and made some good plays. Now he just needs to be more consistent along with everybody else.”
Blake Bortles has confidence in his men on the outside as well.
"Guys were really prepared and ready to go," Bortles said. "We just had some missed opportunities. I don’t think it was a lack of concentration at all. I fully expect guys to bounce back and be able to move on and get better from it.”
Blake Bortles- 25 Percent
Blake Bortles didn't have a great game by anyone's standards, and his pick-six was really the difference in the game. The reason why he doesn't get the most blame is because the receivers really limited what he could do. This was a game to lean on the rushing attack and the team failed to do so. Bortles' numbers would look a lot different from the 22 for 40, 183 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions if five drops had been caught. We'd also likely be talking about who to blame in the Jags victory.
“Obviously it is adversity," Bortles said. "Gus talks about that all the time, being able to respond to that and bounce back from it. I know, personally, I was fine and the rest of the huddle was as well. Guys were fired up and looking for an opportunity to make a play and wanted the ball in their hands.”
Play Calling- 20 Percent
No play is designed to fail and usually blaming play calling is a cheap out. With that said, the Jaguars weren't sticking to what was working and that was the running game. The team averaged nearly five yards per carry and with a young quarterback that's struggling they should have kept leaning on it. It wasn't a two-possession game until the fourth quarter so the score had nothing to do with 45 drop backs as compared to just 21 runs.
"I think we had nine carries for 40 yards or something, it was still a good yards per attempt. But I think that after that interception we were still just down eight points. It can happen in a game. We came back and tried to run the ball and I think at that time we were trying to get back into a rhythm to try and get some good things to come our way, some confidence-builders," Bradley explained. "Not that they needed it but I think it was more rhythm to try to get back into a rhythm with some runs and some quick game. It was still nine attempts. I don’t know exactly where it was. We had a quite a few three-and-outs in the second half, so that limits your ability to run too.”
Offensive line- 10 Percent
The Jaguars offensive line did a better job than five sacks allowed would indicate. They opened up holes for the running game, but after starting left tackle Luke Joeckel left the game for good in the second half, the team could no longer protect on the left side and that led to shorter, quicker throws which the Panthers were prepared for and subsequently jumped. The line's inability to give Bortles adequate time, along with the receivers not being able to separate really limited what the Jaguars could do offensively.
Cam Newton- 8 Percent
Sometimes you just get beat by a better guy. There's nobody better in the NFL at keeping plays alive than Cam Newton and he took the game into his hands (and legs ) and dominated on some key third downs.
"It's huge," Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said of Newton extending plays. "A couple times today that sparked us and led to first downs when we needed it and his ability to run and play in the open field. That's a huge part of what we're able to do.
"I don't know if there's many guys that can do what he does. A lot of guys can scramble when there's open lanes but he manufactures runs a lot of the time. I don't think there's many guys that have that kind of skill set at the quarterback position."
Special Teams- 2 Percent
Kicker Jason Myers missed a field goal and an extra point, thus raising the volume of the groans of the people who were not on board with the team moving on from Josh Scobee. The return game was almost non-existent, with penalties added in, and Bryan Anger's low punts caused some returns. It was a forgettable day for special teams.
"The truth also is that we missed opportunities there as well," Bradley addressed. "Field goals, extra points, those things. Although I know Dave and I both said with our kicker, we don’t anticipate that he’ll be perfect throughout the season. We know there might be some glitches, just didn’t expect it to show in the first game. We’ll keep working with him, support him and hopefully good things are to come for our kicking game.”
The Jaguars will need a much better effort against an improved Miami Dolphins team this Sunday at Everbank Field.