Dolphins 31, Jaguars 13: Game Balls
In keeping with tradition, we are once again set to deliver our game balls from the latest Jacksonville Jaguars gridiron clash. Unfortunately for the Jaguars (1-2), there aren't exactly a lot of positives to take away from the 31-13 loss to the lowly Miami Dolphins.
So who, if anyone, gets a game ball for Thursday's performances?
Through Week 1, and even in the loss in Week 2, the Jaguars' offense clicked. Jay Gruden called a good game, Gardner Minshew was sharp and the receivers looked to be deep and dependable across the board. On Thursday night…none of those things were true.
The only bright spot was running back James Robinson. The Jaguars' biggest offseason gamble is continuing to pay off. Robinson was responsible for 12 of the Jaguars 13 points and 41% of their total yardage. With DJ Chark out (chest/knee) out for the night, Robinson also became the leading receiver with 83 yards on six receptions. They were typically off check-downs or screens that he then took for extra yardage with power, will, and a vicious jump cut.
"I think everyone should feel like [a spark] because anyone can have it, anyone can make a play. So I think everyone should go out there and try to make a spark."
Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden likes to use his running backs in the passing game as well, which is why Chris Thompson was third in receptions with five catches for 35 yards.
Robinson provided a spark whenever he touched the ball. He’s someone this unit can be built around with his persistence to gain positive yardage and fall forward. Now he just needs some consistency from those around him.
No one. There were moments here and there that won’t be horribly painful to rewatch on tape. Defensive end Josh Allen got his first sack of the season, a gimme four-yard drop on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Myles Jack had another double-digit tackle night (11) in one of the only positive performances on the defensive side. But as the 37-year old Fitzpatrick went 18-of-20 for 160 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers (something Minshew couldn’t say), the Jaguars defense continued to give up chunk yardage all night. The Jags played off of Miami’s receivers and attempted to pressure Fitz on early downs, giving up the middle of the field. It gave the quarterback room to work and in what turned out to be a difference-maker, room to run. He picked up 38 yards and a touchdown on seven rushes.
The journeyman passer also targeted the rookie corner CJ Henderson all night. The 1st round pick gave up the completion every time he was targeted throughout the night (5-5 and a defensive pass interference call in the endzone) and seemed to forget the difference between college and professional rules early in the game when he didn’t touch a receiver on the ground only to watch the guy hop up and keep running.
Actually, there is someone who can earn a defensive game ball…whoever steps up next at safety for the Jaguars. After Jarrod Wilson was injured in the season opener with a hamstring, he was placed on the IR and must remain there for at least three weeks. Second-year undrafted free agent Andrew Wingard came in for him and picked off Philip Rivers in the Week 1 win. He was then picked on by both Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick the following two weeks.
Wingard would leave the game with a core muscle injury near the end of the first half, however, meaning Brandon Watson would take his place. After the Jaguars offense fumbled with their backs to the endzone, Miami got the ball back in the red zone. Fitzpatrick took a shot in the endzone and drew defensive pass interference on Watson.
Wilson will be out for at least another week.
Middle linebacker Joe Schobert said after the loss, "They got off to a good start but a lot of it's just execution on our side of the defensive side of the ball. We got to be able to get off the field on third down and limit our penalties...I feel like this whole game, everything you can point to fixable issues. It's, we got to execute better."
Dede Westbrook returned to the active roster for the first time this season. He only caught one pass for four yards although he did draw a pass interference call that put the Jaguars on the 1-yard line and able to score a touchdown. But after some struggling from rookie Chris Claybrooks on punt and kick return the first two weeks, the Jags put Westbrook back to return. He let the correct ones roll—something Keelan Cole could not say when he let one pass that was downed at the three—and field one punt like a center fielder, make two good cuts and put the offense at midfield. There’s still confusion about what kept him out so long during the first two weeks but if nothing else, he could provide some experience and vision back as a return specialist.
Josh Lambo will be out for at least two more games after being placed on injured reserve and looks as if he will be sorely missed after rookie Brandon Wright missed a point after.