Jaguars Don’t Want A Moral Victory, Or To Forget Their Week 2 Loss
There are no such things as moral victories in sports. That sentence is usually followed by a “but” and given the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) close 33-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans (2-0), one could justify a “but” in this scenario.
There are no such things as moral victories in sports, but the Jags offense put up 480 yards and converted 71% of their third downs vs. the Titans.
There are no such things as moral victories in sports, but the Jags defense held Derrick Henry to 84 yards (that’s a win versus him) and didn’t let the Titans score a rushing touchdown all day.
There are no such things as moral victories in sports, but a team that was accused of tanking were within three and looking to make a game-winning drive with just under 30 seconds to play.
There are no such things as moral victories in sports, but the absence of two special teams miscues would most likely have meant the difference in a win or a loss.
The Jaguars—the downtrodden, scoffed at, butt of NFL jokes for years—aren’t interested in moral victories any longer. The youngest team in the NFL wants more in 2020 and that’s obvious from the youngest rookie up to the longest tenured player, defensive lineman Abry Jones.
“This one is a lot better than past years. I mean, this is a team that has come in that wasn’t really expected to do much today by outside forces, but we didn't really buy in to that as a team and kept fighting. And then afterwards, we didn't really take…”
Here Jones stops, searching for the right word to compare this team’s response versus one’s he has been a part of over his past eight years.
“…pleasure, I guess, and try to get moral victories and saying we only lost by three and things like that. We looked at ourselves and kind of said, like, ‘what was the problem? Like what made us lose this game?’”
Even only half an hour from the final whistle, the veteran lineman (two tackles) had already zoned in on the problem areas that need to be fixed before the Jags face off in Thursday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins (0-2).
“We just came down to it was really just, you know, assignments and penalties. I think we cut out half of those penalties, I think it would have been a much better game. The offense was doing was doing a tremendous job. And then defense was starting to lock it down and more than a second half when we needed it.”
The Jaguars had eight penalties for 60 yards; exactly double of the Titans. None perhaps more costly for the Jags than on the Titans' last offensive drive.
The Titans were facing a 3rd and 5 from the Jaguars 44 yard line. They were not yet in Stephen Gostkowski’s range and were already under the two-minute warning. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill dropped back and aimed for tight end Anthony Firkser on a crossing route. Jags linebacker Myles Jack broke it up on what looked at first to be an excellent defensive play.
Until you noticed the flag on the field.
Jack was called for defensive pass interference. The spot foul automatically put the Titans in field goal range, and they took advantage.
“They told me that it was a hold, that when the ball went in there it turned into defensive pass interference. I couldn't see early on in the route and I have a bad view of it from from where I was. The back judge should have a great view of it,” explained Head Coach Doug Marrone.
Added Jones, "a lot of us don't believe that was really a pass interference, but the ref is going to make his call. Myles is, I wouldn't say emotional, but he's very passionate about this team and about this game, so definitely he's going to let it show after an important play like that, especially with the game on the line.”
But to build off of Jones' earlier message, if there are no such things as moral victories, there are also no such things as excuses for a loss.
And frankly, they don’t want any right now. Instead, the Jaguars plan on watching these game on the plane ride back home, turning immediate attention to their Thursday night game against the Dolphins and leaving this loss behind…except for the feeling of it; this young team that doesn’t even know what they don’t know is going to use their youth to their advantage and hold on to the feeling of this loss.
“I think the biggest thing, any time you go through something like this is you remember that feeling, how bad it feels, how close you were,” explains quarterback Gardner Minshew II (30-45, 339 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions).
“And you kind of channel that and use that when you're out at practice, when you don't really feel like practicing and you channel that when you're in games. You know you can come back and you know you can win and how good that winning feeling is.”