It’s not a game that will go in “the Time Capsule” for NFL fans to watch decades from now, but Tennessee’s recent Mastery over the Jaguars continued Sunday with an ugly 9 – 6 win.
Both defenses played hard and played well, but in the end, the third of three Ryan Succop field goals with just over six minutes remaining was the difference, as Tennessee handed the Jaguars their first loss of 2018.
The Titans did not start franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota who has still been battling nerve problems from his elbow after a hit in the week one lost Miami. However, Mariota was forced into duty, when backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert suffered a concussion in the first quarter and could not return.
Speaking of not effective, the Jaguar offense would also qualify in that category. Playing for the second straight game without Leonard Fournette due to his injured hamstring, Jacksonville mustered only six first downs, 100 yards and 3 points in the first half.
The second half was about ball control and time-consuming drives. And Jacksonville punted twice and had a Josh Lambo field goal, but it was not nearly enough.
Blake Bortles, off of a four-touchdown game against New England last week, was mostly ineffective at sustaining drives, must less getting them in the end zone. He was 21 – 34, but for 155 yards only.
Backup running back TJ Yeldon carried seven times for 44 yards and third string running back Corey Grant 6 times for 11 yards. And, the credit goes to Tennessee’s defense, which smothered Jacksonville for much of the day at TIAA Bank Field by forcing eight punts for the game.
With the road win, the Titans assumes first place in the AFC South on the tiebreaker over the Jaguars, which combined with their season sweep last year means they’ve beaten Jacksonville three straight times.
Gameday- Jaguars try to bounce back at home against hot Texans
Who: Jaguars (3-3) at Texans (3-3)
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville
Spread: Jaguars by 4 points (Courtesy of Vegasinsider.com)
What to watch:
Can the Jaguars run?
Another week and more uncertainty about who and how the Jaguars will get their run game going. It was a dismal offensive showing in Dallas and a 40 – 7 loss.
As you probably know by now, Leonard Fournette is still inactive and out for another game with his injured hamstring. This is the fifth time in six games that he is not available for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and the attack.
Reserve running back T.J. Yeldon has filled in solidly but not spectacularly. Veteran Jamaal Charles was signed two weeks ago but carried just five times for five yards in the lost to the Cowboys.The Jaguars did trade for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday giving up a mid-round pick in next year’s draft. Hyde will not be available to help them in this match-up, but perhaps in the future.
The Jaguars have to try to get some kind of run game going to help set up the play action of quarterback Blake Bortles.
Stopping DeShaun Watson
In the Jaguars season sweep of the Texans in 2017, they had the good fortune of not playing the Texans top weapon on offense, quarterback DeShaun Watson (above) either time. Watson had not yet taken over the starting role in the opening game, when Jacksonville blew Houston out. He then was injured for the season with a torn ACL, when the second meeting came around later in the year.
Watson has now helped lead the Texans to three consecutive victories and is still a threat with both his arm and his wheels. It will be important for the Jaguars front seven to keep him not only in the pocket but also from making great runs on broken plays.
Get the Swagger back
There is no doubt that the good will and momentum of a great 2017 is gone. The Chiefs and the Cowboys pounded it out of the Jaguars the last two games.
Jacksonville is back at home, and they have to give the home fans something to cheer about early and often in this game. Whether it is a big hit defensively, a big play on offense or both, the Jags have to get something going to get out of their funk.
The Texans have won three straight, have other play-makers besides Watson like J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins and they aren’t just going to roll over.
Jaguars acquired RB Carlos Hyde from Browns Friday
Desperate to kick-start their offense, the Jaguars continue to overhaul their banged-up backfield. On Friday, Jacksonville acquired running back Carlos Hyde from the Cleveland Browns.
Hyde, a former second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, had signed with the Browns in March on a three year $15.2 million deal. And, he had modest success in Cleveland’s first six games, with his best game coming in week 3 against the Jets where he ran for 98 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns.
The Jaguars are parting with a fifth round draft pick in return for the former Ohio State Buckeyes star to give them a “shot in the arm” offensively.
We have well-documented that the Jaguars run game is undermanned and underwhelming. With Leonard Fournette still battling an injured hamstring and already ruled out for Sunday- meaning he will miss his fifth game in the last six, Coach Doug Marrone and staff are looking for answers on the ground.
A week ago in Dallas T.J. Yeldon had 8 carries for 41 yards and newly-acquired Jamaal Charles carried five times for just 5 yards. Yeldon has been limited in practice with a nagging ankle injury, and Charles is approaching 32 years of age and there is still concerned about how much he has left to offer.
With Hyde being acquired on Friday afternoon, he will be first be able to be active and able to help next week, when the Jaguars head to London to play the Philadelphia Eagles.
Hyde is slated to make $5.5 million dollars on this year’s cap, including the prorated 3.5 million signing bonus in the deal he did with Cleveland. The Jaguars are now going to be responsible for a little more than half of that money with 10 games to go in the regular season.
As for their offense, it has registered just 21 points in the last two games- both blowout losses to the Chiefs and the Cowboys. And, off of three losses in four games, if the Jaguars don’t get something going quickly, it may not matter which running back is in the backfield for the stretch run.
Jaguars coach Marrone offered little Thursday about possible turnaround
It’s definitely “circle the wagons” time for the Jaguars after they’ve lost two straight and three of their last four games. The Jags are at home Sunday with division rival Houston and will try to put 60 minutes of football together to get back to their winning ways.
However, if you were looking Thursday for any insight, much less encouraging words, about possible improvement starting Sunday from head coach Doug Marrone, keep looking.
As is customary on Thursdays, Marrone was not made available to the media for a press conference, because he talks extensively on his radio show that is simulcast on the Jags website.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) October 18, 2018
But, not much was learned about improving the struggles during the 15 minutes or so of conversation with the internet hosts J.P. Shadrick and former Jags defensive star/analyst Jeff Lageman.
For example, Marrone was never asked about quarterback Blake Bortles, much less his recent struggles, and most importantly, what’s being done by offensive coordinator to Nate Hackett and quarterback coach Scott Milanovich to try to get the passing game back on track?
Likewise, Marrone was never asked about the Jaguars running game, with the problems that it has had with Leonard Fournette out of the lineup with his bad hamstring.
As we continue to monitor, Fournette did not practice at all again on Thursday and it appears the Jags are going to rest him for an extended period of time. This is out of concern to not re-injure the hamstring, like he did three weekends ago trying to play after two weeks of rest on the injured hammy against the Jets.
Still, you would have liked to of heard what have heard what Marrone thought of RB Jamaal Charles’ limited time and performance last week, how he’s looked in his second full week of practice and what the prospects are of him being able to help the Jaguars win this game with Houston?
Alas, there was nothing Thursday night.
The media will get one final opportunity in advance of the Texans game to talk to Marrone on Friday and see what the updates are on any of those subjects above?
In the meantime, we realize that most Jags fans are only concerned with whether the Jaguars are going to turn it around, get a victory and still maintain at least a tie for the lead in the division.
But the ones that were looking for reassurance from the head coach that it is going to turn around starting Sunday and how?
Well, they, like us, are still waiting.
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