JACKSONVILLE – Here’s what we learned from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday . . .
1. The Jaguars aren’t there yet. And in fact, they’re probably not close yet. That may have gotten a little lost last week in the wake of a victory over the Titans, but the Jaguars needed to play very well in that game to get the victory. They took advantage of turnovers and made key plays at key times. On Sunday, they played a good team that’s still in the hunt for a playoff berth. That team, the Cardinals, didn’t make second-half mistakes and pulled away at the end. That won’t happen nearly as often as the Jaguars improve over the next few years. On Sunday, it did.
2. The Jaguars miss
3. The running game needs work . . . The Jaguars’ run struggles this season have been well-documented. They were even more pronounced Sunday, when the Jaguars averaged 2.0 yards a carry, with running back
4.. . . a lot of work. Not to completely belabor the point, but a running game struggling to this extent makes everything tougher. The Jaguars rushed seven times on first down for nine yards Sunday. That means you’re looking at an average of second-and-nearly nine yards. That’s a difficult down-and-distance to overcome.
5. The Cardinals are really good up front. Yes, the Jaguars have struggled to run the last two weeks. But it shouldn’t be overlooked that the Cardinals are one of the NFL’s best defensive fronts. There’s a reason they’re ranked No. 3 in the NFL against the run. They’re that big, that physical, that athletic and that good.
8. The Jaguars’ will fight. Fighting isn’t a substitute for winning, but there’s no denying this team played through adversity on Sunday – and by doing so, they stayed close in the second half. Two significant calls went against the Jaguars in the second half – a muffed punt and a timeout before an interception – in rapid succession. The Jaguars stopped the Cardinals on that possession, and stayed within 10 points. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley talked about that as a positive in the postgame and he was correct.
9. The run defense is improving. Remember when the Jaguars struggled to stop the run – really, really struggled? That was a huge concern entering the Titans game last week. They limited Chris Johnson a week ago, but on Sunday, they completely shut down the Cardinals, holding Rashard Mendenhall to 14 yards on 12 carries and Andre Ellington to three yards on eight carries. As a team, Arizona rushed for 14 yards on 24 carries. That was the second-fewest rushing yards allowed by the Jaguars in franchise history.