The Jacksonville Jaguars got their first good look at what life without top wide receiver Allen Robinson might look like on Sunday, and just much like the 37-16 loss to the Titans in which they got it, it wasn’t very pretty.
Quarterback Blake Bortles wound up completing 20 of 34 passes for 223 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions off passes that were tipped during the game, but as John Oesher of Jaguars.com noted that doesn’t come close to explaining just how ineffective the passing game was.
Before the Jaguars rallied for 13 garbage time points in the second half of the fourth quarter, Bortles completed just seven of his first 18 passes for 57 yards with no touchdowns and the two picks, both of which came during an even more bothersome stretch between the second and third quarters.
During that stretch, one in which the Jaguars went from being tied 3-3 to trailing 16-3, Bortles completed just five of 12 passes for a measly 18 yards, which is just further proof of how difficult a time he had making plays downfield.
The absence of a formidable running attack was one of the reasons those plays failed to materialize. As Bortles pointed out after the Jaguars backs were held to 70 yards on 21 carries, without a running game to set up play-action fakes, it’s hard to take shots downfield.
Of course, it’s also hard to take shots downfield when you don’t really have a downfield threat to take shots with and without Robinson, the Jaguars simply don’t have a weapon that scares defenses enough to create a consistent downfield passing game.
“Anytime a player like that goes down there’s a huge void to fill,’’ Bortles said after the loss. “All the targets, the plays he makes, the touchdowns – that’s gone.
“But we have to find a way to make up for that and get other people into position to make plays. We don’t have another Allen Robinson, but we have other guys that can make plays for us and be successful.’’