The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) dropped their Los Angeles debut to the Chargers (2-4) for their sixth straight loss. But this one wasn't without some fireworks, including a third quarter that saw the two teams combine for 35 points.
Jaguar Report's John Shipley and Kassidy Hill hand out their game balls for the best performances on offense, defense and special teams.
Hill: There were strong performances and standout moments from several guys today, but that’s all a testament to the run game working behind James Robinson. Ironically, after watching it sputter against some of the league’s bottom-feeding run defenses, the Jaguars rushing attack clicked in Los Angeles against a Top 10 run defense. James Robinson was electric, with his best performance on the ground and from scrimmage in a Jaguars uniform. Having already set the record for most yards from scrimmage by an undrafted rookie, Robinson added 137 yards on Sunday (119 on the ground, 18 through the air) and two touchdowns, one receiving and one rushing.
Despite the Jags suffering through an abysmal first quarter, the rookie Robinson still averaged 5.25 yards per carry the first 15 minutes. On their second drive of the second quarter, Gardner Minshew—with a mixture of DJ Chark (26-yards) and Laviska Shenault (36-yards)—put the Jaguars into the red zone. From there, Robinson took over with two plays for 11 yards that hit pay dirt, and then a soul-sucking run up the middle for the 2-point conversion.
Two drives later, Robinson took a swing pass, gave a wiggle to shake off a defender and switched his ball-handling hand mid-air to dive for the pylon.
There was twice Robinson was stuffed in crucial situations; a 4th down when Cam Robinson let Joey Bosa through, a 3rd down when he was stuffed at the line. Still, it was already assumed but now it’s clear…the Jacksonville Jaguars are at their best when the game plan revolves around James Robinson. Even when defenses know it’s coming, he wins the battles more often than not.
Shipley: While we try to pick two different players each game, it simply isn't possible this week. James Robinson was far and away Jacksonville's best offensive player on Sunday, in large part because the passing game and offensive line both struggled a good bit. Without Robinson and his two touchdowns, this game doesn't look as close as it did.
Robinson was obviously terrific as both a rusher and receiver, but it is the fact that he was the team's entire offense that earns him the game ball here. Robinson accounted for 12 of the team's 29 points, while also accounting for 137 of the team's 294 net yards (46.6%). Robinson was the only thing that worked consistently for the Jaguars on Sunday, and one could even make an argument that he should have gotten the ball more than he even did.
Hill: The rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton started his second game in a row following Abry Jones admittance to the IR (he’ll remain there for at least three games). Jones is an eight-year veteran and the most tenured on the team but his experience by virtue means he won’t be around forever. Hamilton, the third-rounder out of Ohio State, can be the future at the spot and he’s beginning to play as such.
Hamilton finished tied second on the team with eight tackles, to add to his two quarterback hurries and one tackle for loss. In the first quarter, on the same drive, he twice pressured rookie quarterback Justin Herbert into incomplete passes. In the third quarter, he rushed up the middle, belying his size, for a stop behind the line. The drive ended in a failed Chargers field goal.
Shipley: While DaVon Hamilton made things easier on the team's linebacker group on Sunday, I am going with outside linebacker Quincy Williams. Williams didn't get the start for the Jaguars but he stepped in when Dakota Allen went down with an injury in the first quarter, opening the door for him to have potentially his best game as a pro.
Williams was far from perfect -- he still has to work on being a consistent tackler -- but he made more impact plays near the line of scrimmage than he made at any point last season. The speedy second-year linebacker made seven tackles, including a tackle for loss and a key pass deflection. He frequently made plays in space and near the line of scrimmage, giving him a wide-range of impact. Williams is still rough around the edges, but he looked like an improved player on Sunday.
Hill: There’s really no choice here but Daniel Thomas. The rookie safety playing on special teams was textbook on punt coverage. He cut up the middle and dove for the punter's foot, angling himself perfectly for the block without drawing a flag. As his teammates surrounded him, he scooped the ball up and rode a convey into the endzone for the 16-yard touchdown that gave Jacksonville their first lead of the day.
Also, best wishes to DeDe Westbrook. The seldomly used receiver and returner returned four kicks today before leaving the game with a leg injury. Head Coach Doug Marrone said afterward that he’ll have more on it come Tuesday, but that it seemed “pretty significant.”
Shipley: I hope Daniel Thomas was able to keep that ball. What a play by the rookie safety to block the punt and then return it himself for a touchdown. Nobody else comes close to Thomas and his massive play when it comes to the special teams game ball.