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Doug Marrone went conservative late first half, how much did it cost Jaguars?

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

When you lose a close dramatic game like the Jaguars did Sunday night to New England 24-20, everything is going to be scrutinized. Doug Marrone knows this, already.

However, a fair amount of scrutiny and debate is correctly being given to the end of the first half Sunday night in Foxboro.

To set the scene, after trailing 14-3, Tom Brady and the Pats finally did damage to the Jaguars defense and with the aid of two correct penalty calls on the Jacksonville defense, got their first TD on a James White run to make it 14-10.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicked off out of the end zone and it was the Jags ball at their own 25 yard line.

With 55 seconds remaining in the first half and two timeouts to utilize, the Jacksonville Jaguars now, had a choice to make.

Their head coach, who had gone with a “full throttle”offensive mindset for the win the previous week in Pittsburgh, decided to have QB Blake Bortles, who had the Patriots on their heels in the second quarter, kneel on the ball and head to the locker room (photo above) with that 14 to 10 lead.

Now, with the understanding that each team was going to have the ball five or six or more times, at least, in the second half and that would decide the game, that decision at the end of the first half is worth debating.

Despite having completely outplayed the Patriots offensively in the first half, did Marrone send a signal to his team?

The signal? Unlike last week, when we kept stomping on the gas on the road even after having scored a bunch of points, we are not going to take risks to beat ourselves, today.

Instead, the Jaguars coached and played a lot of the second half, like a team relying on their tremendous defense alone to try and win the game for them.

Yes, ultimately Tom Brady did solve the Jaguars D by getting New England in the end zone not once, but twice, after trailing by 10 in the 4th quarter. As we wrote last night, Brady’s heroics were not unexpected.

Again, when you come up short you, as the Jags did, you can scrutinize any significant part of your loss.

Immediately after the game, Marrone was asked about having regrets about the decision to “play it safe” up 14-10 or was he looking to the second half and getting the ball first?

“I think it was more the second half kickoff. They had come down (Patriots scoring quickly). We had to make some adjustments at halftime… we just wanted to go in there knowing we’d get the ball back.”

In fairness, they did take the second half kickoff, picked up two first downs, and Josh Lambo kicked a 54 yard field goal, anyway for a 17-10 lead before Brady and Co. ever saw the field.

Still, the argument is: you needed aggressiveness and touchdowns, especially against a great team like New England at their house.

Clearly, Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and really everyone in the Jaguars building, will shake their head for a while that beginning with the kneel downs at the end of the first half, the Jaguars were not as aggressive, as they could have been from then on.

Yes, there was an attempt at a flea flicker pass later in the third quarter that the Pats were ready for and it only ended up being a short Bortles completion.

However, overall the risks/play calling toned down late in the first half and continued throughout the second half, including the Jaguars last four possessions of three punts and losing the ball on downs at the end.

In the end, after a tremendous turnaround in the regular season and two playoff wins, you cannot be too cruel about losing to arguably the greatest QB and head coach ever in Brady and Bill Belichick.

But ask yourselves this: same scenario reversed, Pats up 14-10, giving up a late score at the end of the half, knowing they get the ball to start the second half, does Belichick have Brady kneel?

We don’t think so, either.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. crosseyedlemon

    January 22, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Late in the first half the Jags shot themselves in the foot with a delay of game penalty that ended a drive for a possible FG. Patriots responded with a TD so your looking at a 10 point swing there. The Jags second half philosophy was ‘play not to lose’ rather than ‘play to win’ and it played right into the Patriots objective of forcing Bortles to beat them.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey implied Monday he wants out of Jacksonville

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Frustration is mounting in Jacksonville as the Jaguars dropped their fifth straight game losing Sunday in Indianapolis 29 – 26.

And as the cliche goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” However, the literal meaning of that phrase can now being taken by Jaguars fans and media with regards to controversial defensive back Jalen Ramsey taking to social media Monday morning to imply that he wants to get going out of Jacksonville.

Whether it was frustration, trying to be funny or just being honest, Ramsey’s tweeted mid-morning message is definitely going to stir things up. And, the clear indication is that the former fifth overall pick of the Jags in 2016, who’s playing in his third season on his rookie contract, is counting down the days to be gone from North Florida.

This is the latest in a series of headaches for the Jaguars front office and Coach Doug Marrone. It began in the offseason when Ramsey refused to come work out with his teammates during OTAs and instead, elected to remain training in Tennessee with his father at their training facility.

Now, that one is more easily explained and accepted, because Ramsey has trained there throughout his young adult life in the offseason. And ultimately, OTAs are supposed to be voluntary workouts anyway.

Still, the perception was that Ramsey was not wanting to be part of the team concept and around his teammates coming off of a playoff season, when the franchise was hoping to take the next steps.

Then came Ramsey’s decision to not show up at the beginning of Jaguars training camp due to the birth of his daughter. While he informed the Jaguars of his intentions in advance, the fact that Ramsey did not come to participate in practices and preparation for the season for five days of actual practices was another concerning hint that he’s not pleased with the Jags and the situation.

The subject was basically glossed over by the media in Jacksonville, but if winning and getting better with your teammates is a priority and your girlfriend and child did not have any complications during childbirth, why were you not with them within a day or so of the birth?

Next, came and ugly and embarrassing public skirmish at a Jaguars training camp practice, as defensive line teammates Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler got into a shoving match and had to be separated from teammates in full view of fans and media looking on. Ramsey joined in in threatening two different reporters to stop video taping the incident, even though they were perfectly within their right to do so covering the team.

Maronne suspended both Fowler and Ramsey for the entire week of practice with the Minnesota Vikings before playing the preseason game in Minneapolis. Fowler was traded two weeks ago to the L.A. Rams, while in the final year of his rookie contract.

Also, Ramsey’s comments in GQ Magazine and an online article also came out later that same August week  and in the article, Ramsey took shots at quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, rookie Josh Allen, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, too.

This obviously brought unwanted attention to Ramsey around the football world, at a time when the Jaguars would have wanted it toned down.

Now, the Jaguars are facing adversity on the field having lost five in a row to drop to 3 and 6 on the season and in last place in the AFC South.

It’s also interesting timing for Ramsey to be speaking out, half joking or not, because it’s after the trading deadline and the Jaguar still have Ramsay’s exclusive rights to give him a new deal through next season. They also have the option to pick up the 5th Year on his rookie contract, which would be 2020.

Another theory would be: that Ramsey is trying the  “if you complain loudly and long enough they will trade you” route to get out.

There is no disputing that Ramsey is one of the best one-on-one cover corners in football, but as we have asked frequently, at what point do all of the antics and drama off the field outweigh that?

This is especially, when you can potentially get something for him of substance in return or maybe, in a trade Ramsey.

However that’s a question for the off-season for the Jags. For now?

It’s another headache off the field from #20.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars slide continues, as comeback comes up short

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A valiant comeback in the second half in Indianapolis was spoiled by a late turnover, and unfortunately at this stage for the Jaguars, there’s no such thing as a “moral victory.”

And in the end, the scoreboard read Colts 29, Jaguars 26.

That’s five straight losses for Jacksonville, a team that won the division and two playoff games a year ago, but looks very ordinary and at times, awful when it matters this season.

For example, they were bad defensively for much of the first half of this game Sunday, as Andrew Luck repeatedly riddled them for big throws and touchdowns in the first half  building a 21 – 7 lead.

Still, the Jags showed great moxie in the second half trying to snap their four-game losing streak. Jacksonville put together a 75-yard drive out of the locker room that culminated with Leonard Fournette’s second touchdown of the season and trimmed the lead to 29 – 23.

The Jaguar defense continue to lockdown the Colts in the second half, and linebacker Telvin Smith picked off Luck at the end of the third quarter to keep the Jaguars within range.

After a Josh Lambo field goal had cut the lead to three, Indianapolis was trying to put the game away, but could not run the clock out. Then, they elected to try a 52-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri which the future Hall of Famer missed.

And, that opened the door for the Jags to have one last chance.

However, that chance also got  squandered after Blake Bortles had completed a couple of passes to T.J. Yeldon, and then Yeldon had a 9-yard run down to the Indy 35 making it 3rd and one.

That’s when Bortles completed a pass downfield to Rashad Greene, who was stripped by defensive back Kenny Moore of the Colts. The play was initially called a catch on the field, but replay review later overturned it and allow the Colts to kneel on the ball and run the clock out.

So it was a mixed bag of some good things, but not enough of them.

And the reality for coach Doug Marrone and the team is: five straight losses and a team that was once riding high in the AFC South off a win over the Patriots that made them 3 – 1, has now disintegrated.

The Jaguars five game losing streak has also put them in the basement of the AFC South at 3 – 6.

And that’s not a place where anyone expected them to be.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Gameday- Jaguars must bounce back at Indianapolis

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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Jaguars (3-5) at Colts (5-5)

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Spread: Colts by 3 points (Courtesy VegasInsder.com)

Here’s what to watch:

Fournette is back

Those are three words that Jaguar fans have been waiting for five weeks. And finally second-year running back Leonard Fournette appears to be healthy after missing six of the last seven games with a hamstring injury. Fournette re-aggravated that hamstring injury in October game against the Jets and has not played in the last for Jaguar games. All of those games have been losses, with the Jaguars unable to run the ball and set up their play action passing.

Now, off the bye week, the explosive second-year running back from LSU was able to practice all week and should be a full go for this match-up in Indy. He should make a difference, provided that there’s not another reaggravatation, which would only have the Jags fans throwing up their hands and rolling their eyes.

Get after Andrew Luck

If the Colts are going to continue their success it’s writing on the former number one overall pick. After missing all of last season with shoulder surgery, Luck is rounding into form in the middle of 2018.

Luck has 23 TD passes and just eight INTS as the Colts have won back to back games.

The Jaguars pass rush has got to be ready to go in this one. That means players like Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack have to pressure, knock down and sack Luck on Sunday or it could be a long day for the Jags.

Play with a sense of urgency

Just like what we wrote in the Buccaneers preview with the Redskins, the Jaguars have seen their 3-1 start evaporate, and with four straight losses, they have to come out Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium playing like their season is on the line.

That’s because, it likely is.

The Jags have to get to nine wins, just like the Buccaneers in the NFC, to have a realistic hope at a wild card spot. Their drought of victories has put them at 3 – 5, and that means they have to start winning, now.

Off their bye week, will they be sharp and well disciplined on both sides of the ball? Will there be penalties, will there be turnovers and will there be mistakes in assignments?

If there are a lot of those, then excitement built off a year ago and the hope for following it up with a playoff season in 2018 will basically be gone.

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