The Locked On Jaguars writing team is here to dish out grades for the Jacksonville Jaguars performance through the first quarter of the season after starting 3-1. We will break the grades down into four categories: Offense, defense, special teams, and coaching.
Let’s get to the report card.
Even without RB Leonard Fournette on the field for about 75% of the offenses snaps, the Jaguars offense remains in the middle of the pack in total yards per game at 380 (15th in NFL), pass yards per game at 266.5 (15th), and rush yards per game at 113.5 (13th). Considering Fournette is the focal point of the offense when he is on the field, and these rankings are pretty solid.
Box score scouts will say the Jaguars defense has regressed, as they only have 10 sacks and two turnovers through the first four games this year compared to 18 sacks and 10 turnovers last year. However, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye have only been targeted on 31 of 118 passing attempts (26%) – QBs aren’t testing them. The pass rush has also generated 69 QB pressures on 123 pass rushing snaps. Pretty nice, in my opinion.
Special Teams: B+
Josh Lambo is a perfect 8/8 on field goals and 8/8 on extra points. Logan Cooke has pinned teams inside the 20 yard line on 11 of 20 punts (11 ranks third in the NFL). And when punts are returned by opposing teams, the coverage unit is allowing a mere 4.6 yards per return (T-4th in NFL). While Jaydon Mickens hasn’t created much (5.3 yards per punt return on 10 returns), I’d say the special teams unit has been pretty good where it really matters.
I truly believe the Jaguars went into the Tennessee game with the offensive gameplan centering around Fournette being available, and the failure to adjust without having him on the field led to a bad outing. Other than that, the coaching has done a great job scheming around opponents weaknesses and developing this team as a whole.
Inconsistent in scoring, the Jaguars offense needs to show more longevity and the ability to be more two-dimensional.
The Jaguars defense leads the league in most categories except turnovers. Still not letting offenses do anything though, so I can’t fault them for not getting the ball.
Special Teams: A
Josh Lambo has been phenomenal per usual and coverage looks much better than last year on kickoffs and punts.
The Jaguars offense for the most part has played well this season. Blake Bortles has posted two of the best games of his career (Patriots and Jets) and has contributed to key moments in the season which has allowed the Jaguars to get off to a quick start. If Bortles plays well, the Jaguars will. The only negatives so far have absolutely been the injuries. Last season, the Jaguars were very fortunate to not suffer many key injuries, however this year along the offensive line as well as at the running back position, the injuries are starting to pile up. The Jaguars offense also has played poor enough to lose the game for the entire team (Titans), the inconsistencies are what bring the grade down so much.
The Jaguars defense has been everything and more that you could want from this unit. They single-handily can win games for this team and showed as much during week one with their defensive touchdown by Myles Jack. The Jaguars are currented ranked number one in total defense (YPG), passing YPG, and are 10th in rushing yards per game. The run defense should not come as a surprise as the Jaguars were ranked 15th last season. There are not many flaws in this defense at all, and that should be about what we expected.
Special Teams: B
The Jaguars special teams is a very good unit thus far in the season as kicker Josh Lambo has a perfect 8/8 field goals this season. He is also 8/8 in PAT. Logan Cooke, although he hasn’t been the best at flipping the field this season, has had 11 total punts inside the 20-yard line only 20 punts total. The negatives for the Jaguars have been in the return game. Jaguars punt returner Jaydon Mickens is only averaging 5.3 yards per punt return. There have been very few kick returns.
Considering what the Jaguars have been able to muster out of their offense that includes an inconsistent Blake Bortles and a depleted running backs group, not to mention a young receiver group, I would have to give their coaching an A. Obviously, the defensive group is already well coached, and the head coaches’ decisions have been sound. The only reason this is not an A+ for me is simply because there have been so many penalties, and while that does not completely reflect on the coaching, it does show some lack of discipline.
The playcalling has been surprisingly good so far this year, save for the Titans game. The Jaguars offense has adapted well without Fournette but I want to see how they do knowing he’ll be out for a while.
The defense has continued it’s dominant play from last year and the secondary is still suffocating. They’ve clamped down more on tight ends compared to last year but I wanna see our defensive line get home more. They’re generating pressure but not capitalizing.
Special Teams: B
There haven’t been too many ups or downs for the special teams unit this year. Logan Cooke has performed and Josh Lambo has been perfect. One thing I want to see is more success from the punt and kick returners.
Coaching this year has been really good overall. They’ve been putting the team in good situations. My only gripe is that DC Todd Wash needs to start generating more pressure with blitzes and trust his corners in man coverage more often.
Excluding an anemic performance against the Titans, the Jaguars offense has played admirably. The Jags have been able to unleash a surprisingly effective passing game in the absence of Leonard Fournette.
The fact that the Jags defense can receive this grade even while not playing to their fullest potential is astounding. The Jaguars defense has been suffocating it’s opponents, allowing the fewest PPG, YPG, and passing YPG. If they can force more turnovers and reduce mistakes, their grade will be even higher in Q2.
Special Teams: B-
Josh Lambo has yet to miss a field goal, going 8/8 so far. Logan Cooke lacks incredible leg strength but has shown the ability to pin opponents deep with accurate punts. Kick and punt return defense has been solid.
Nate Hackett is still questionably conservative, but has shown increased confidence in Bortles, giving him more opportunities in the passing game. Todd Wash has taken some flak for his increased use of zone coverages, but they seem to be effective as the Jaguars defense has only allowed 14 PPG.
Overall, I’m pleased with the offense’s performance, given that Leonard Fournette has barely played, and tackle Cam Robinson had a season-ending injury early in Week 2. QB Blake Bortles has had two great performances, but the offenses’ stinker against Tennessee keeps them from getting an A.
The defense hasn’t been getting turnovers at the rate they did last year, but they’ve been dominant, and have picked up the offense when they lagged behind.
Special Teams: B-
Josh Lambo has been perfect so far, and rookie Logan Cooke has been very solid at punter. The return game has left a lot to be desired, but so far so good for the special teams unit.
I absolutely loved Nate Hackett’s game plan in Week 2, but he laid an egg in Week 3. The coaching staff hasn’t been anything special, but they earn a solid B in my grade book.
Weighed down by the inconsistencies of one Blake Bortles, the Jaguars’ offense would be graded higher if not for their QB’s performances against the Giants and Titans. In both games, Bortles had a sub 4.6 adjusted yards/attempt. In the other two? Both above nine. Consistency is key, folks.
This grade should be higher, but being tied to Bortles’ poor performances as a play caller, you have to change things when it’s obvious that your quarterback isn’t playing well. Nathaniel Hackett has called some masterful drives in four weeks, but him not being able to counter Bortles playing poor or not knowing what to do besides run into a wall when Fournette is rarely healthy have been black clouds hovering over the season thus far.
Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca
The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.
The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.
Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.
We have promoted rookie LB @N_DeLuca49 to the 53-man active roster from the practice squad.
To make room on the roster, we released 11th-year RB Jamaal Charles. pic.twitter.com/OmiHd2wtvZ
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) October 22, 2018
Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin
In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.
Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.
And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.
“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”
In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.
“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.
In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.
And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.
Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.
Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”
The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.
This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.
Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB
24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”
This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.
Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.
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