Special Teams Doom Jags As Rams Prevail: The Takeaway

Jags Give Up Two Special Teams Touchdowns; Still
Winless At EverBank Field

Jacksonville, FLA — The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) played a great game on defense in Sunday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Rams (4-2). The Jags gave up 249 total yards, yielding one touchdown from the Rams offensive unit.

The Jaguars offense piled up 389 total yards, however, they scored only 17 points. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw the ball too often (35 attempts), while Jags rooking running back Leonard Fournette was bottled up after a 75-yard touchdown run on the Jags’ first play.

This game was lost solely by the tertiary unit, special teams.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Jaguars’ special team’s captain Arrelious Benn. “As a special teams guy, we gave up 14 points. We gave up 14 points and it starts with me….We can’t sit back and wait for offense and defense to do it. We’ve got to go out there and do it. We’re not in a chaos situation right now. We’ve just got to regroup and correct some things that we’re not executing out there.”

A Freak Of Nature

Starting from the opening kickoff special teams were a disaster. Jacksonville gave up a 103-yard kickoff return to Rams’ receiver Pharoh Cooper, as a result, Jacksonville was down instantly.

PHOTO – LOS ANGELES RAMS

Roughly four minutes later, Jags’ punter Brad Nortman booted a 16-yard punt to the Jacksonville 45-yard line. Four plays later and eight yards later the Rams kicked a 56-yard field goal.

Late in the second quarter Rams linebacker Corey Littleton blocked a Nortman punt and returned it for another score. Consequently, the touchdown gave the Rams a ten point lead.

Jags kicker Jason Myers missed two 54-yard field goals as well. Myers’ longest field goal this season is 47 yards and is 10-17 from beyond 50 yards in his career.

The Jacksonville special teams unit contributed to 17 first-half points, putting the Jags in a 10 point hole going into halftime. The Jaguars are the best when they are playing from ahead. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. Therefore, Jacksonville failed to protect the ‘Bank and are still winless at home.

Stagnant Offense

PHOTO – LOS ANGELES RAMS

The Jaguars have been up and down on offense this season coming into Sunday’s matchup with NFL’s top rushing attack (165.2 yds/gm), top five scoring offense (27.8 pts/gm), but 30th ranked passing attack (159.6 yds/gm).

Jacksonville does not fair well when Bortles throws the ball often, which was the case Sunday due to being behind. In their three wins this season, Bortles averages 22 pass attempts. In their three losses, including Sunday’s game vs. the Rams, Bortles threw the ball more than 34 times and was sacked five times with an interception, as he went 23-35 and 241 yards passing.

Fournette had another good game on the ground with 130 yards. However, more than half of those yards came on the rookie’s first carry with a 75-yard touchdown. Most of all, Fournette was nonexistent averaging 2.75 yards per carry.

PHOTO – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

The Jags face stacked boxes all game long, as the Rams did not fear Bortles in the passing game. Due to the loss of Jags’ top receiver Allen Robinson in the season opener with a torn ACL, the Jacksonville offense is limited. Hence, Fournette’s third straight game with 20 plus carries.

Most noteworthy, rookie running back Fournette suffered a sprained right ankle late in the team’s 27-17 loss to the Los Angeles. His status for the upcoming week is unclear.

“They said he was taped up and spatted and could have gone back in the game,” Jags head coach Doug Marrone said. “That’s encouraging.”

It’s All On The Defense

Jacksonville gave up 27 points at home vs. the Rams, much more than the 16.6 points per game they were giving up. With the special teams spotting Los Angeles 14 points, there was no margin for error.

“When we’re down by two scores the offense doesn’t play into the strengths of our defense, which I think is our pass defense right now,” Jags’ safety Barry Church said.

The Jaguars defense played well, giving up one touchdown and two field goals. They produced three more sacks, bringing their season total to 23 and recovered a fumble. The fumble had to be challenged by Marrone and led to a field goal, which put Jacksonville within one score with five minutes left in the third quarter.

PHOTO – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Jacksonville’s defense only gave up three points in the entire second half. They already have to carry the offense, but they understand their role and relish in the moment. Finally, if the defense has to carry the special teams as well, seems like the Jaguars aren’t going anywhere fast.

Up Next: Jacksonville (3-3) travels to Indianapolis to face the Colts (2-3).

 

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