Jaguars Get Embarrassed on a National Stage, Lose 31-13 to Dolphins
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — All those positive feelings about the Jaguars from the last two weeks were effectively squashed — at least for now — as the Miami Dolphins rolled over the Jaguars in an embarrassing 31-13 home loss.
It started off ugly for Jacksonville and never got much better. The defense was especially poor, getting absolutely shredded by journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick made mincemeat out of Todd Wash's defense for the entirety of the game, but it was ugly from the jump.
For the third consecutive time this season, the Jaguars allowed an opening-drive touchdown and then followed it up with a scoreless first offensive possession of their own. In short, the Jaguars have gone down 7-0 after a single drive in every game this year.
"Obviously we are not executing well. I think that is the first thing you can look at it,"
This time, the game's first score was a three-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to wide receiver Preston Williams to cap off a 12-play, 84-yard opening drive. Receivers were running wide open and the Jaguars continued to struggle to get pressure.
It was a perfect start for Fitzpatrick, whom Jacksonville was completely incapable of stopping, especially in the first half. The Jaguars walked into Thursday with one of the league's worst pass defenses, and this continued against the Dolphins as Fitzpatrick completed 12-of-14 first-half passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. At one point, he was even 11-of-11.
Fitzpatrick ended the game with 18-of-20 passing for 160 yards (8.0 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns, giving him a 133 passer rating. Fitzpatrick's 90% completion rate is a career-high for the 37-year-old.
To add to the Jaguars' defensive ineptness, Fitzpatrick also hurt the Jaguars on the ground. The veteran passer rushed seven times for 38 yards, including a pair of first downs in the first half and a touchdown on a quarterback draw at the goal line in the third quarter.
Ultimately, the Jaguars allowed 294 yards, but 218 came in the first half. They also allowed 23 total first downs despite the Dolphins running just 57 offensive plays, giving them a first down on nearly every other play. Finally, the Jaguars' inability to get off the field continued as they failed to stop the Dolphins on third down, allowing 7-of-13 conversions.
"It puts our offense at a disadvantageous situation right off the bat and as a defense, we have to be better than that," linebacker Joe Schobert said.
This is now three straight poor defensive performances from the Jaguars, and at this point, it is beyond time for the unit to panic. The Jaguars have invested each of their last four first-round picks on the defense (including three on the defensive line) and two of their highest-paid players are linebackers. Mistakes like the ones the Jaguars saw tonight shouldn't occur when you pour that many resources into the defense.
“I think it is just when your number is called, whether it is a four-man rush or it is a blitz, you have to win your one-on-one matchups and we’ve got the guys to be able to do it," Schobert said.
"We just have to do it when the opportunity presents itself. Like I said, it is something to look into upon ourselves and get better at and improve as the season goes on.”
On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars weren't much better. Just one week after the Dolphins' secondary got roasted by Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills for four quarters, the Jaguars struggled to move the ball through the air all night.
The absence of DJ Chark was obvious, with Gardner Minshew II never looking quite comfortable throwing it deep to anyone else. Chark is Jacksonville's security blanket on offense, and they missed that in a big way on Thursday because of multiple poor plays from the receiver group.
The first glaring mistake from the receivers came from Chris Conley on their first offensive possession, who dropped a good pass from Minshew on second down that would have become a first down. Instead, the Jaguars were forced into third down and were unable to convert, leading to a punt and an eventual 14-0 Dolphins lead.
Conley had a particularly poor night, dropping multiple passes. He was unable to track a deep Minshew pass for a guaranteed touchdown in the third quarter, but also had a drop in the third quarter on a deep ball that should have easily been caught. On the very next play, Minshew was dropped for a sack and lost the football for a fumble, leading to the Dolphins getting the ball near the 10-yard line and setting up the aforementioned Fitzpatrick score.
Edit: the fumble happened on the next drive, one play after Conley had a pass interference called on him. Our mistake.
“Yeah, frustration level really high. Personally, in situations where you come out and have an opportunity to start the game with a good drive, you’ve got to make every opportunity count," Conley said after the game.
"In that first drive, I let this offense down. No excuses about that. You got to make that play. But really as an offense, guys stuck together and went out there and kept scrapping.”
For a Jaguars' offense that garnered plenty of hype entering Week 3, the unit was a complete disappointment in Thursday's loss. Minshew was especially poor after a strong first two weeks of the season, completing 30-of-42 passes for 275 yards, an interception and a lost fumble.
A good chunk of those passing yards came in garbage time, though, and Minshew's issues at staying calm and collected in the pocket continued to plague him through the night. All in all, it was a bad showing on a big stage for a quarterback who is still auditioning for a job next year.
Minshew's greatest misfires came on the most important downs, however, with the Jaguars' offense finishing 3-of-10 on third downs after entering the game as one of the league's best third down offenses.
The lone bright spot from Jacksonville's offense was undrafted free agent running back James Robinson, who carried the ball 11 times for 46 yards (4.2 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns. Robinson now has as many rushing touchdowns this season (3) as Leonard Fournette had in all of 2019.
Robinson especially shined as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, leading the team in receptions and yards with six receptions for 83 yards. For an offense that was stagnant, Robinson was a rare bright spot.
But at the end of the day, one bright spot was not nearly enough to beat a Dolphins team that had been reeling. The Jaguars had a chance to earn respect with a strong showing in Week 3, but they instead fell flat on their face and embarrassed themselves in front of a national audience.
The Jaguars could have made a big statement on Thursday night. Instead, they made it obvious they are far from being where they need to be to become a winning football team.