The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the 2015 season with great anticipation, following a functional preseason in which the recently inept offense looked like at the very least an NFL team.
After their latest defeat, the Jaguars sit at 1-3 with their only victory coming against quite possibly the most dysfunctional organization in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins.
What's been most troubling is the Jaguars inability to score in the second half of games. In three of their four games this season, the Jaguars have scored a total of three second half points. The other game, a 51-17 loss to New England, the Patriots allowed 14 second-half points in a game that had long been decided.
So why is the team struggling to score in second halves of games?
Everything points to coaching.
A former NFL head coach once told Football Insiders that halftime adjustments are a media and fan creation. He said, "by the time you get everyone in the locker room and check on the injured guys, you probably have a couple minutes to talk to the team. You simply don't have enough time to devise a separate game plan at halftime."
On the surface that makes sense, but it certainly seems like NFL teams are adjusting to the Jags offense after intermission.
Nearly 73 percent of the Jaguars points have come in the first half. In the second half, protections break down, receivers don't separate and the running game gets clogged up.
In the Jaguars latest second-half goose egg, quarterback Blake Bortles was unable to drive the team into the red zone.
“No, I think it was just a lack of execution," Bortles said when asked if the there was anything different from the first half to the second half. "I think the right things were called, the people were in the right spots. We just have to make a play, whether it’s a throw or a catch or whatever. We just have to go out and make a play.”
They certainly do need to make more plays, but it's tough to imagine that things automatically bog down and none of the blame be on the coaching staff.
When you've won just eight games in three years a losing culture sets in. Head coach Gus Bradley is one of the most positive people in sports and in life, but his football team simply doesn't know how to win.
“The mental toughness part of it what it takes is just a couple of plays," Bradley, who has an 8-28 record since taking over the team explained. "We have to learn and it’s right there in our grips. I’m standing on the sideline. We just didn’t finish so I’m not concerned about it because I think this team in that locker room, they know what it takes. We just need to keep consistently putting it together I think as far as the good plays to make it an easier possibility.”
It always seems to be a play here and a play there for the Jaguars.
“I mean it’s tough man. It is what it is. The film don’t lie. It’s not like I can sit up here and tell you guys anything different," veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said after the Colts loss. "Like I said before, football is a situational game, and within those situations we have to be more attention to detail and get it done. We just have to make the plays to get the job done.”
After three Dave Caldwell drafts, the Jaguars don't have a single offensive player that defensive coordinators worry about.
Blake Bortles might be a good quarterback someday. Right now he's mostly inconsistent and with the lack of weaponry around him, he has to be near perfect. Before the season, Football Insiders ranked the Jaguars weapons 29th in the NFL and that included a healthy tight end Julius Thomas, who hasn't played a snap all season.
Bortles has to fit the football in some of the tightest windows in football because none of his receivers can consistently defeat single coverage. Knowing that teams don't have to worry about bracketing certain players, they can concentrate on loading up the line of scrimmage to stop the running game. It's one weakness causing many others.
As for the offensive line, this year they've been better than the previous two, but Luke Joeckel is still one of the worst starting left tackles in football. When he's lined up against a better than average pass rusher, the team needs to either roll the pocket, cutting off half of the field, or line up Marcedes Lewis next to him to protect Bortles, taking yet another receiver out of the passing game.
More weaknesses compounding.
The Jaguars still have 12 games left to play, and only two of them are against teams that are currently above .500. There is plenty of time to turn the season around, and six or seven wins would be an enormous improvement.
With that said, there's no reason to believe that the Jaguars are going to get better in the second halves of games and until they do they will be one of the have-nots of the NFL.