Game Balls: Packers 24, Jaguars 20

The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) had some of their best performances of the season on all sides of the ball, albeit in a 24-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers (7-2). John Shipley and Kassidy Hill give out their game balls for the best of the best.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) were on the brink of pulling off one of the best upsets of the 2020 season against the Green Bay Packers (7-2). The game-winning drive floundered however and the Packers won in Lambeau,  24-20. 

Still the day proved to feature some of the Jaguars' best performances of the season on all sides of the ball.  John Shipley and Kassidy Hill highlight the best with their game balls. 

Offense

Hill: It’s James Robinson but we talk about him all the time so for the sake of some variety, let’s talk about Jake Luton. In only his second start—and for that matter, game—in the NFL, Luton walked into Lambeau Field and had MVP Aaron Rodgers fighting for a comeback late in the 4th quarter. Luton finished 18-35 for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The former was a shot to Keelan Cole on 3rd down in the RedZone, a gutsy throw that proved Luton’s poise is just fine in a NFL pocket. 

The latter was set to be another dart to the exact spot his receiver should have been but tight end Tyler Eifert slipped and Amos picked off the pass.

On the Jaguars last possession, when looking to put together a miracle, the offensive line—missing Cam Robinson who left earlier in the quarter with injury—didn’t do the rookie many favors and he was sacked twice in a row then flushed on a scramble that had him looking for a Hail Mary to James Robinson on the last play.

As is the case—and understandably so—the loss and last drive will be what gets stuck to Luton’s reputation as a NFL quarterback through two games. But his decision making on quick throws and clear arm strength down field while working against a whipping wind are all indications there’s enough in Jake Luton’s game for the Jaguars to continue testing out the young quarterback for the time being.

After the game, Luton told reporters he’s still looking to grow more but has already learned a few lessons with two games under his belt.

“I think I’m still learning. I think just the pace of play, having to be quick with my reads and seeing the defense, you know, the NFL, they do a lot of different things. They do a good job of mixing things up and you always got to be on your toes and be locked in every play. You can’t get lazy with your eyes, can’t get lazy with your feet. You got to be ready at all times and so I think I’m learning, you know, every play, every day. I’m trying to learn and become a better player.” 

Shipley: We know, we know. Giving this award to James Robinson each week is likely getting old and looks like a bit of a copout, but is there any other answer? Once again, Robinson was the best player on Jacksonville's offense, even with his teammates letting him down in a few big moments.

Robinson finished the game with 23 carries for 109 yards (4.7 yards per carry), which included two touchdowns (or at least near touchdowns) being called back due to holding penalties. The first came in the third quarter, with a 16-yard scamper down the right sideline going from a touchdown to a loss of yards due to a James O'Shaughnessy holding penalty. 

The second one, however, was pretty baseless and had much less grounds for being called then the first one. On an 18-yard touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter, right guard A.J. Cann was called for a hold that, frankly, never really occurred. If not for either of these plays, Robinson's terrifically productive day looks even better than it did.

But even without those scores, Robinson still had a game worth looking back on. The rookie running back once again showed good vision, explosiveness and ability to break tackles, giving the Jaguars more and more hope in him as the franchise back.

Defense

Hill: There are actually a few candidates for this today given the defense played one of their most inspired games of the season. But I’m going to go with CJ Henderson.

Now wait, wait. I can practically hear the groans and gnashing that translate roughly to, “didn’t you see him miss the tackle on that 3rd down” and/or “the rookie corner got juked by the leading receiver in the NFL and three-time Pro-Bowler (Davante Adams) for a touchdown.” And you’re right. All of those things did happen. For each of those plays to be acknowledged though, we must also talk about the play on the Packers third drive of the game, deep in their own territory and Aaron Rodgers swung a screen out to Davante Adams and Henderson met him at the catch and dropped Adams after only a 1-yard gain.

Or the pass breakup on Adams in the second quarter. Or the huge play on Adams in the third quarter; after Rodgers found his receiver on the edge in the flat, Adams turned up field and had picked up 26-yards with little more than green grass in front of him. Henderson, with the speed that made him a darling at the NFL Combine, caught up to Adams and stuck his hand in to knock the ball loose. The forced fumble rolled out and Myles Jack returned the rock 16 yards. The offense capitalized with a touchdown.

Each and every week it seems like we see Henderson get put on a top receiver and take a few licks but when more battles than not, helping him earn lessons as a rookie that will pay dividends in the future.

Shipley: While the Jaguars saw their secondary and Myles Jack make numerous plays on Sunday, I am going to go with second-year defensive end Josh Allen. A mix of knee injuries and poor play around Allen prevented him from being overly productive or disruptive in the first half of the season, but he had by far his best game of the season in Green Bay.

Allen was a nightmare for the Packers' offensive line on Sunday, especially for right tackle Billy Turner. While Allen may have just recorded just two tackles, he had numerous pressures to disrupt Aaron Rodgers and force the ball out of his hand. The 2019 version of Allen -- the one that looked too explosive, too strong and just too gifted for blockers of all types -- was on the field on Sunday. 

Just one example of Allen's dominant performance against the Packers: with 19 seconds left in the first half, Rodgers threw a 22-yard touchdown to Davante Adams. Well, he would have if Allen didn't fly past Turner's inside shoulder at the snap, leading to Turner being flagged for holding. Allen had numerous other plays like this, culminating in one of the most disruptive games of his young career.

Special Teams

Hill: Keelan Cole was a playmaker on offense today, with five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. But it was his play on special teams that will be seen on highlight reels for the next 24 hours. Back as the primary returner with DeDe Westbrook out for the year with a ACL injury and Laviska Shenault out for the week with a hamstring, Cole’s vision and speed have shown him to be a natural at the position, which was never more evident than early in second quarter; Cole took a J.K. Scott punt at his own 9-yard line. After cutting around the first defender, he barreled through an open lane (thanks to great blocking). Once he got past the second level, he turned on the burners and didn’t let up till the punter, Scott, flew in to push him out of bounds.

A shimmy shake that broke Scott’s ankles gave Cole all the room he needed to finish the house call. It was the Jags' first punt return for a touchdown since Dede Westbrook on December 16, 2018. 

The wind meant Scott outkicked his coverage somewhat, and that played right into the hands of the speedy Cole.

“I mean honestly I was worried about the wind and catching the ball more than anything,” Cole told reporters after the game.

“Luckily the punter was out kicking the coverage, it was less stress on catching it and getting hit and stuff like that. After that it was really just executing what Coach calls. He. Comes up with the schemes and we just run it. And honestly when it comes to punt return and stuff like that, [just] hope the punter does exactly what he did and give you space to run. After that it’s really just running.” 

Shipley: No. 9 on the field, No. 1 in the hearts of special teams. Punter Logan Cooke was once again on fire on Sunday, following up his Week 9 dominant performance with another against the Packers on Sunday. 

The Jaguars more or less won the field position game against the Packers due to Cooke's efforts, with the third-year punter nailing the Packers inside their own 20-yard line on four of his six punts. This included punts that landed at Green Bay's 2, 4, 7, and 9-yard lines. Cooke has been one of Jacksonville's best players this season in part due to their struggles, but also in part to his own fantastic performances. In Week 10, we saw yet another one of those perofrmances.