They were a playoff team last year. There was so much hope that the Jaguars had “turned the corner,” to become a good, if not great team with a core of young stars, for future years.
However, they are no where close to being great, or now, even good, in 2018.
And, in a 6-0 victory Sunday at TIAA Bank Field against the Colts, it was all apparent, again.
Despite having fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and benching QB Blake Bortles last week, the Jags offense was still a mess most of Sunday. New offensive coordinator Scott Milanovich and backup QB Cody Kessler couldn’t get anything going on a Sunday, where Jacksonville’s defense did a great job of shutting down QB Andrew Luck and the Colts.
You want some numbers that back it up?
While Kessler completed 18-24 passes, it was for only for 150 yards. He was also sacked three times. The Jags had a paltry 11 first downs and punted, fumbled or knelt on the ball in four of five possessions in the first half. Then, they punted, again, on four more of the five more possessions in the second half.
The other two possessions were the only points of the day on two Josh Lambo field goals.
The running backs carried the ball 21 times for just 52 yards on the afternoon.
A miserable day offensively for sure.
The one thing that the Jaguars could count on in 2017 was their outstanding defense, and at least the 2018 team Sunday resembled what we saw last year.
Just like the Jacksonville offense was struggling, the Colts and Luck could get nothing going against the Jags and were eventually shut out. Luck finshed 33-52 for 248 yards, but was hit and harassed frequently into making shorter throws. The Jaguars sacked him three times and picked him off, once.
And when it mattered the most, on the Colts final two possessions, Jacksonville sacked Luck on fourth down with just over 2:30 remaining. And then, leading by just six, slowed Indy enough on their final drive that they ran out of time on Luck’s final completion at the Jaguars 29 yard line to end the game.
CBS TV cameras caught Jaguars VP of football Tom Coughlin in a suite on slow motion replay, jumping in the air with arms up screaming after that final play “Game Over” and “We Win,” as if something truly remarkable had happened Sunday.
Only, it wasn’t really remarkable.
It was a hard to watch 6-0 victory that snapped a seven game losing streak.
No, with the OC fired, the starting QB benched and future in doubt, the Jags just simply weren’t as bad as the Colts in winning for the fourth time this year.
They can take consolation in that on Monday in North Florida.
But, not much else.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.