JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2021 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 20-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday
The Jaguars are fighting the good fight but are not quite good enough to win against a top AFC squad. The talent disparity and lack of consistent execution showed up against the Titans. The Jaguars turned the ball over and committed too many mental mistakes to win against a top team. While the effort and fight are commendable, the Jaguars will not win until the execution matches their effort and attention to detail matches their energy. Playing hard is great but playing smarter would help them win more.
KEYS TO VICTORY
It is hard to win with a minus-four margin in the turnover battle. Although the loss does not solely fall on the shoulders of the rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, it is hard to overcome four interceptions with an offense that struggles to pick up first downs. With a nonexistent running game and few explosive plays generated through the air, the Jaguars spent most of the day running uphill with little success. Defensively, the Jaguars played one of their better games of the season – as evidenced by the minimal yards per play allowed (3.8) – but they were unable to generate turnovers to change the momentum of the game. Given the impact of turnovers on the outcome of games, the defense's inability to come up with a few takeaways kept the Jaguars from stealing a win on the road.
The No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft has been mired in a slump since a Week 7 bye and his issues continued against the Titans. Lawrence has posted a passer rating of 81.8 or lower in seven consecutive games with a 2:6 touchdown:interception ratio during that span. The inefficient play has led to questions about the rookie's confidence, awareness and judgment in an offense that has sputtered for most of the season. While Lawrence still flashes the generational talent that made scouts proclaim him a "can't-miss" prospect at the position, there is growing concern that he will not reach his potential based on his disappointing rookie season.
Linebacker Damien Wilson has been a rock-solid player for the Jaguars for most of the season. He quietly put together an A-plus performance against the Titans with 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. The veteran was effective in disrupting the timing of the Titans' passing game while also clogging running lanes between the tackles. With Wilson joining linebacker Myles Jack as a force on the second level, the Jaguars' defense held its own against a physical Titans offense.
The Jaguars continue to struggle putting points on the board. The offense has averaged fewer than nine points (9.1) over the past seven games, and the lack of production has been due to a combination of talent, poor execution and flawed schemes. The trifecta of issues has been compounded by a lack of commitment to the running game and running back James Robinson. Against the Titans, the Jaguars finished with just eight rushing attempts for eight yards with Robinson totaling four yards on six carries. In a game that was competitive for three quarters, the lack of touches for the Jaguars' top offensive player is a head-scratcher, particularly with the quarterback struggling in the passing game. Perhaps the game plan simply got away from the coaching staff, but the poor showing is part of a trend of disappointing performances that lead to questions about the direction of the offense going forward.
It is hard to take the defense to task when the unit held the Titans to 3.8 yards per play on the day. Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen kept the Titans' potent running game under wraps and forced quarterback Ryan Tannehill to settle for check-downs and dump-offs from the pocket. With the Titans bottled up for most of the day, the game remained competitive for three-plus quarters despite getting minimal contributions from the offense. Although this loss will count as a "team loss," the effort from the defense should be viewed as a positive sign of progress from a unit that has shown potential throughout the season.
Check out these top game photos of the Jacksonville Jaguars as they take on the Tennessee Titans for Week 14 of the NFL Regular Season at Nissan Stadium.