Snapback to reality. The Jacksonville Jaguars showed some promise last week, but they proved during Sunday's loss that they’re still not built in all actuality. The defense was clueless as Julio Jones had a huge day. No matter what was tried, did the secondary slow him down? Nope. The Jaguars' defense really did give up that easy as the Jaguars were quickly brought back to reality, falling to the Atlanta Falcons on the road 24-12 to fall to 5-10 on the season.
Heading into this game, Todd Wash said that the No. 1 priority for the defense was to stop Jones and limit his big plays. But when you’re dealing with one of the league’s top dogs with a defense that isn’t completely healthy or built up to par, they’re going to have some struggles. Jones ended the day with 10 catches for 166 yards.
So, that leaves the question - what did we learn from this defeat in Atlanta? Well, once again we didn’t learn much that we didn’t already know about this team. It’s a team that has a lot of holes to fill in order to be competitive again, and all of those weaknesses were exposed once again.
The Jaguars continue to let team’s top playmakers take over games, which has been a consistent problem for them this season. The two biggest offensive weapons for the Falcons are Jones and Austin Hooper, so you’d think that the defense would game plan for those two excellent playmakers, right?
Well, apparently that information didn’t get transferred to Wash or the players that were on the field. Jones and Hooper combined for 17 catches for 248 yards and Matt Ryan completed 71 of his passes for 384 yards and one touchdown.
Ryan did throw two interceptions to Jarrod Wilson and Tre Herndon, but those turnovers just felt like Ryan was getting greedy and trying to create a big play for Jones. It didn’t feel like big plays made by either Herndon or Wilson.
The Jaguars defensive line and offensive line also played horrendously as the defensive line went from playing one of its best games all season last week to one of its worst this week. The only Jaguars player to record a sack was Dawuane Smoot. Other than that the Jags pass rush didn’t even breathe on Ryan.
The defensive was also appalling from a run game perspective. Despite not giving up its usual 150+ yards a game in the run game, it still allowed a lot of big plays that resulted in first downs. The containment was non-existent as numerous times you saw Yannick Ngkaoue cheat inside to try and make a play, but while doing that he gave up his leverage to make it easy for Devonta Freeman and Brian Hill to bounce runs to the outside.
The problems didn’t stop on the defensive side of the ball. Instead, the offense and special teams struggled as well. Let’s quickly dive into special teams: Jaguars rookie kick returner Michael Walker fumbled his second kick return on the season. That mistake put the Jaguars down 14-0 with nine minutes remaining in the first quarter.
As for the offense, it didn’t decide to show up until the fourth quarter, which has become a regular thing with Gardner Minshew under center. Minshew finished the game 13 for 31 for 181 yards and one touchdown, and early in the game Minshew really struggled and the offense continued to stall out time and time again.
Minshew isn't receiving much help, however. After one of the offensive line’s best performances last week, it had one of its worst this season. From mental mistakes, giving up ground, and just making it hard for Minshew to do anything with pressure in his face the second he took his third step in his three-step drop.
The receivers failed to create any separation either, making it hard for Minshew to fit the ball in tight spots.
One positive thing to take away from this game is that the Jaguars move to sixth in the NFL draft and will have a top 20 pick from the Rams following its loss to the 49ers last Saturday.