Jacksonville Sloppy And Undisciplined Against San Francisco: The Takeaway
Santa Clara, CA — The Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5) won the AFC South before their matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. Maybe that’s why they came out flat leading to an uncharacteristic day for the young Jags.
Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles had his worst game of the year, with his fourth-career three-interception game.
But this was a total team letdown as Jacksonville’s defense had their worst game of the year as well, giving up 44 points. Also, the Jaguars had a season-high 12 penalties including three personal fouls.
Jacksonville travels back east with questions surrounding them as the playoffs are on the horizon. Can Bortles get it done? Is running back Leonard Fournette hitting the rookie wall? Are the injuries at receiver too much to overcome? Will the Jags defense be good or great in the playoffs?
With Sunday’s 44-33 loss to San Francisco, Jacksonville can no longer obtain the number one seed in the AFC. But they’ll watch the Pittsburgh game on Christmas, if the Steelers lose they’ll have a shot at a bye in playoffs.
The Jags need a bye to get healthy, giving them a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl run. If Pittsburgh wins Monday night, look for the Jaguars to rest their starters next week.
Either way, Jacksonville will have at least one home playoff game, their first since 1999.
Bortles Back Down To Earth?
After Bortles threw three interceptions vs. the 49ers Sunday, some would say that’s the Bortles they know. Not the top quarterback over the past three weeks coming into Sunday’s contest.
Quarterbacks have bad games, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees have had their share. Bortles was due; he’s also working with a skeleton crew of receivers.
Jacksonville just ran into a hot 49ers team that’s all in trying to prove themselves vs. the rest to the NFL with a legitimate quarterback now. Since Jimmy Garoppolo has taken over, the 49ers have had the second-best pass defense in the NFL.
However, Bortles cannot afford another bad game anytime soon. Coming into the season, the fourth-year signal caller led the league in turnovers. Jacksonville has a huge decision to make with Bortles in the off-season, it all hinges on his next couple of games.
Get The Running Game Going
Jacksonville must find a way to be more consistent running the ball. The Jaguars’ rushing attack is the best in the NFL which leads to teams stacking the box.
Sunday’s matchup was close until the middle of the fourth quarter. However, due to not having much success on the ground Bortles had 50 pass attempts on the day. Going forward Jacksonville cannot sustain that kind of run/pass ratio, or the playoffs will be short-lived.
Fournette was in his first game back since the victory over the Seahawks. But he didn’t have his usual burst. He could be hitting the rookie wall due to 17 game season plus the playoffs, or he could be less than 100 percent. The Jags will need to rely on him to provide balance.
Not looking at just the points from Sunday’s loss, Jacksonville defense struggled at all three levels. They couldn’t get pressure with a four-man rush, managing just one sack. Jacksonville gave up 131 yards on the ground, allowing the 49ers to control the time of possession. Garoppolo didn’t have stellar numbers but was able to go where he wanted to against the NFL’s top pass defense.
Now they were put into some bad spots due to the interceptions by Bortles, but the Jaguars will have to get things buttoned up going into the playoffs. They’ll face quarterbacks better than Garoppolo, and running backs better than Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida.
Sunday’s game was the first time a team was able to scheme their way up and down the field against the Jags. Jacksonville has relied on the playmaking ability from their secondary while mauling teams up front. When one or both aren’t working, they’ll have to switch it up to slow teams down.
Up Next: Jacksonville ends the regular season at the Tennessee Titans.