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Quick thoughts: Ravens 40, Jaguars 14

QuickThoughts_Ravens

Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 40-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank in Baltimore, Md., Sunday

Oehser …

1.This was a mismatch – and that wasn't a surprise. The Ravens got away from the Jaguars quickly – and in retrospect, that wasn't shocking. This was a classic case of a team with late-season incentive – i.e., the Ravens needing a victory to stay in the playoff chase – against an undermanned, injured team struggling to the end of the season. In this case, the struggling Jaguars entered the game having used 79 players this season, the second-most players ever used in NFL history through 13 games. That stat is indicative of a huge amount of turnover on an already-suspect Jaguars defense – one that not unexpectedly couldn't hold up against a Ravens offense that is one of the most dominant/effective running offenses in recent memory. Perhaps the day's biggest surprise was that the Ravens' defense so completely dominated the Jaguars' offense in the first half. Either way, the game's telling statistic was this: after safety Josh Jones intercepted Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on the game's opening possessions, the Ravens scored on six of the next seven possessions – and five of the possessions ended in touchdowns. The lone exception was a 57-yard missed field goal on the first-half's final play. This was a mismatch from the start – unsurprisingly.

2.Robinson remains a notable bright spot – and so does Jack. The reality was there was little – and perhaps nothing – positive for the Jaguars Sunday. But if there was a bright spot, it unsurprisingly came from rookie running back James Robinson. Baltimore focused on stopping Robinson, limiting him to 35 yards rushing on 15 carries. But Robinson's 17-yard third-quarter touchdown reception was a remarkable display or athleticism and awareness, catching the ball just inside the pylon to cut the lead to lead to 26-7. It was Robinson's 10th touchdown of the season and showed an underappreciated part of Robinson's game; he's a very capable pass receiver in addition to being an exception runner. And a hat tip to veteran linebacker Myles Jack, who continued Sunday to play at a Pro Bowl level with 10 tackles and a pass defensed.

3.What else is there to say about the quarterback position? Quarterback position has been a season-long Jaguars storyline, so we mention it here out of obligation. Gardner Minshew II returned to the starting lineup Sunday, marking the Jaguars' fourth quarterback change of the season. Minshew, starting for the first time since a Week 7 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, was sacked five times and threw for just 53 first-half yards as the Jaguars managed just 61 yards in the first half. The sacks weren't all Minshew's fault and the struggles weren't all his fault. But he showed the same hesitancy in the pocket and struggles to get the ball effectively downfield as he showed early in the season. Will Minshew start the final two games? Perhaps. Does it matter much? Probably not. The Jaguars' quarterback story appears likely will be written at the 2021 NFL Draft and not before.

Sexton …

1.The defense needs speed. After the Jaguars use their first first-round selection next April on a quarterback, they need to find speed for their defense. Watching middle linebacker Joe Schobert try to chase Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins or safeties Josh Jones and Andrew Wingard try to cover Ravens tight end Mark Andrews – or Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon on Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown – was tough. This defense doesn't have a lot of talent right now and what they did have on Sunday wasn't fast enough. They need a lot of help on that side of the ball, so it figures they're going to add a bunch of guys in free agency and the draft. Make sure they can really run. Outside of Jack and K'Lavon Chaisson, the Ravens were a noticeably faster team.

2.Please draft a tight end – a good one – somewhere in the first or second round. Andrews was everywhere Jackson needed him to be on Sunday. He's a big body who runs great routes and – even better – makes critical adjustments for his quarterback. Whomever is the future at quarterback for the Jaguars would be well-served by a guy like that who finds a way to get open and make contested catches. Even when he doesn't make the catch, as on the second quarter deep ball that earned Wingard a pass interference penalty and led to a 19-0 lead, Andrews creates problems for defenses – and presents solutions for Jackson. Tyler Eifert was that guy at tight end for Minshew for one big play in the third quarter and might be able to regain his once promising career, but I wouldn't pass on a young guy in April.

3.Somewhere in the second quarter I wondered when the Ravens would start taking a knee, having flashbacks to a 44-0 loss in Detroit in 1995. That snowy afternoon in late December inside the Pontiac Silverdome, the Jaguars trailed 27-0 at the half (they were down 26-0 on Sunday) and Lions Head Coach Wayne Fontes began the fourth quarter with Scott Mitchell throwing three passes only to get Herman Moore and Brett Perriman an NFL record. From that point on, they just ran the ball right into the line – and by the five-minute mark backup quarterback Don Majkowski was taking a knee. On Sunday, it felt like I was watching that game again – though in another city, and another century. I nearly amended this Quick Thought after the third quarter, but when Ravens offensive tackle Tyre Phillips picked up a fumble and ran 22 yards for the first down … well, I felt like I was back at the Silverdome. It was that kind of day … again.

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