Well, it’s a disappointing feeling.
The Jaguars, despite multiple miscues, were in position to win this game or force a potential overtime. Alas, a Jefferey Simmons batted ball-turned-Harold Landry interception, put an end to Gardner Minshew’s magic and sealed a 33-30 victory for the Tennessee Titans.
In a game in which the Jaguars defense was able to contain Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill posted a career day in a back-and-forth duel with Gardner Minshew. The difference in this game was the 11-point swing created by an early Kristian Fulton interception; a rare special teams gaffe by Josh Lambo near the end of the first half; and a once-in-a-blue-moon, WTF, missed extra point.
A deeper dive is coming in the next few days, but for now, here are the rapid takeaways from the Jaguars’ first loss of the 2020 season.
This offense, particularly this quarterback, are much better than expected. Rookie running back James Robinson finished the day with his first touchdown and 100-yard rushing performance. Eight different receivers contributed to Gardner Minshew’s 339-yard, three-touchdown day. Don’t let the two interceptions jade the perception of Minshew’s performance; the first one was caused by rookie Collin Johnson making a mental error, and the second came on a would-be game-tying possession. This offense was able to move the ball consistently, convert third-downs and play at a consistently-high level. The offense looks good enough to give this team a chance, most weeks.
The effort to improve against the run is off to a strong start. Derrick Henry is not the reason the Titans are currently undefeated. The front-seven did a fantastic job in bottling up the reigning rushing king. His volume and a few good runs make his box score much more impressive than he was. Adam Gotsis, Myles Jack, and Timmy Jernigan all played fantastic football games. Considering Henry ran for almost 400 yards against this defense last season, the staff has to be happy with how the run defense has held up. The game plan coming into this game was, undoubtedly, to make Ryan Tannehill beat them — and unfortunately, he did.
This defense is not good enough to withstand a negative turnover differential or special teams miscues. In Week One’s victory against the Indianapolis Colts, the Colts never punted. Two separate turnovers-on-downs, two giveaways, and a missed field goal were the changes of possession. Today, the Jacksonville offense turned the ball over twice, leading to a Titans touchdown and victory formation. The defense played okay, all things considered, but struggled to get off of the field, and notably missed the momentum that comes with forcing a turnover. This Jaguars defense is not going to be very good this season; it does need to be opportunistic and give the offense an extra opportunity here and there.
I cannot wait for the All-22 for this Week 2 Jaguars-Titans showdown.
The Jacksonville Jaguars came up short, and far be it for me to advocate for a silver lining or moral victory — but this, kind of, is one. Gifting 11 points to a team that played in the AFC Championship game a year ago, in a season in which most of the country believes you are tanking, hardly sounds like a recipe for success.
Being in a position to win or tie this football game, despite all of the mistakes, is damn impressive.
(Featured Image Credit: Jaguars.com)