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O-Zone Late Night: Dolphins 31, Jaguars 13

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Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson, center, looks for a way to get past Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Elandon Roberts, left, and outside linebacker Jerome Baker (55) during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars struggled from the start Thursday.

There's no other way to say it and there was no other way to analyze a 31-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins at TIAA Bank Field. The loss came in the Jaguars' lone prime-time game of the season, and they didn't show a national-television audience what they wanted to show.

The Jaguars believe they're better than observers believe. They believe they are a scrappy team with a lot of young talent. 

They looked like that sort of team for two games. They didn't Thursday.

There will be plenty of questions – and anger – about this one. And rightly so. The game ended late, so we'll answer a few as best we can late Thursday and dig heavier into it Friday morning.

This was a tough one. It wasn't what the Jaguars wanted and it sure wasn't pretty.

Let's get to it …

JT from Fort Worth

This Jaguars team is going to be one that will put up some points, but our defense is going to lose us a bunch of games when the offense can't put up at least 30. Let's keep our fingers crossed that Minshew is actually the guy because we need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball.

The emails reflected the feelings of many readers Thursday and why not? This was a tough performance to watch, and it was a third consecutive concerning game for the defense. The bigger concern is that quarterback Gardner Minshew II didn't look anything like the player who looked so promising in Weeks 1 and 2. He looked lost without wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., and the Dolphins did a good job containing him in the pocket and making him beat them from there with his arm – which was how many teams successfully defended Minshew last season. This game doesn't mean Minshew's terrible. One game doesn't show that. But it does show why it's too early too early to anoint him as the franchise quarterback moving forward.

Ryan from Detroit, MI

Man, this defense looks sloppy. The 2017 season feels like a lifetime ago. I believe in the magic, but even Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II isn't going to be able to get us many wins if he always has to dig out if the giant hole our defense sticks him in.

True.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

Strong dislike on the all teal uniforms. It's like they're playing in pajamas! Stick with the teal top, black bottoms, or black tops, white bottoms. That's where it's at!

So, one not fer the all-teal unis. I didn't pay much attention. There were other things going on.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Here with my early ballyhoo email!! I get it's scripted for the offense, but why has every opening drive against us looked so easy? I absolutely get players over plays, but you'd think out of one of the three starts we could stop someone from slicing through with a butter knife.

This was the much-ballyhooed, oft-anticipated, typically premature First Email of the Game. And you know what? There's not much to say about this one – and the email sure didn't feel premature by game's end. It felt dead-right to complain about the defense because for a third consecutive game the Jaguars' defense allowed an unbelievably easy first-drive touchdown and they followed it with another easy long drive – this time for a touchdown. It meant a second consecutive 14-0 deficit. Why is the defense struggling? I don't know that we're looking at an incredibly talented defense. It's certainly not an experienced one. It doesn't seem to be one that can pressure the quarterback consistently. It seems to be one in which a young secondary is going to struggle if the pass rush fails to get pressure. There are concerns. We'll see if they can get them fixed. 

Josh from Atlanta, GA

We always talk about plays that don't work. But what in the hell is a toss on third-and-five at that field position?

You're referencing a pitch to running back Chris Thompson on 3rd-and-5 from the Dolphins 35 late in the first half. It appeared that the Jaguars went into the play thinking it was four-down territory because they went for the first down (unsuccessfully) on the ensuing play. It also appeared Minshew checked to the play. It's hard to say what he saw, but if you're in four-down territory you're thinking about getting something on one down and then more on the next. Perhaps that was the thinking.

Ben from Jacksonville

Can someone please tell Doug to stop deferring to the second half! Let our offense go out there and get momentum! Our defense is terrible!

Head Coach Doug Marrone said after the game he's going to rethink this approach moving forward. Coaches like having the ball to start the second half. And coaches aren't going to coach assuming their defense isn't going to start well. But considering the slow starts, it's not hard to understand why Marrone could change his approach.

Scott from Medford, NJ

A rookie undrafted kicker for nationally televised game. Why not get a veteran kicker.? They are a dime a dozen…

They like Brandon Wright, and it's not that easy bringing in a kicker off the street with the policies around COVID-19 – particularly on a short week.

Bill from Jupiter, FL

Here is your first-quarter overreaction: The Jags defense is a long way from being any good.

Yeah, well…

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