JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2020 season, NFL Media Analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 24-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday:
The Jaguars have only chalked up one "W" in the win column this season, but the team certainly hasn't quit on the season based on their effort against the Packers. Head Coach Doug Marrone's squad took the fight to the NFC North leaders from the opening kick as the Jaguars set the game's tone with their physicality, energy and effort. The defense in particular played with a little saltiness that took the Packers by surprise. The constant and persistent punishment doled out by the Jaguars' defensive backs kept the Packers' passing game under wraps despite quarterback Aaron Rodgers' 300-yard game. With weak-side linebacker Myles Jack spearheading the spirited effort from the defense, the Jaguars looked like a playoff contender for almost 60 minutes.
KEY TO VICTORY
The Jaguars were in position to win until the very end due to strong effort from the offense, defense and special teams. The complementary game plan worked to perfection with each unit contributing to the Jaguars' most impressive performance of the season. Wide receiver Keelan Cole set the tone with a 91-yard punt return touchdown that pushed the Jaguars in front in the second quarter. The nifty return showcased Cole's quickness and explosiveness on a well-executed return. The defense stepped up with a solid all-around performance that disrupted the flow of the Packers' offense. The mix of five-man blitzes with soft zones kept Rodgers from attacking at will and enabled the Jaguars to get off the field with some timely plays from the defensive backs. Offensively, the run-centric game plan built around rookie running back James Robinson helped the Jaguars utilize a balanced attack to alleviate some of the pressure on rookie quarterback Jake Luton to carry the offense as an inexperienced starter. Although the Jaguars didn't win, the game plan was sound and put the team in a position to win against a top team.
The rookie continues to impress as a surprise starter. Despite playing in tough conditions (windy), Luton was pretty efficient and effective throwing. He completed 18 of 35 passes for 169 yards with the ball going to six different receivers. Although Luton only averaged 4.8 yards per attempt, he showed off multiple pitches in his arsenal. He delivered a fastball to Cole between multiple defenders on a 12-yard touchdown and showed the ability to take a little pace off of the ball on some of his quick-rhythm throws to wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Chris Conley. Although he missed the strike zone a few times throughout the game, Luton was on point for most of the day and kept the Jaguars in the game with his disciplined approach.
UNDER THE RADAR
Rookie nose tackle DaVon Hamilton is quietly becoming a disruptive force on the interior. The Ohio State product is an effective run stopper with some pass-rush ability. Against the Packers, Hamilton effectively clogged the middle as a stout plugger at the point of attack. He was hard to move off the spot and his ability to stalemate blockers at the line of scrimmage enabled the Jaguars' linebackers to flow freely to the ball to contain the running game. As a pass rusher, Hamilton's athleticism and movement skills showed up on an impressive sack on an inside game; the 6-feet-4, 320-pound nose tackle looped around multiple bodies to shoot through a crease to corral Rodgers. The combination of strength, athleticism and instincts displayed by the rookie should encourage the Jaguars' coaches to give him more snaps as he emerges as a key contributor on the front line.
Coordinator Jay Gruden's possession-based offense continues to excel with Luton at quarterback. The rookie avoids big mistakes and manages the game like a 10-year veteran. He makes sound decisions with the ball and allows the system to create big-play opportunities for him by patiently taking what the defense gives him. Gruden has helped the rookie by leaning on Robinson as the focal point of the offense. The rookie running back has responded in splendid fashion by gutting opponents with his rugged running style. Against the Packers, Robinson put up another 100-yard game while helping the Jaguars play keep away from Rodgers and Co. The run-centric game plan enabled the Jaguars to keep the game close with Luton contributing a few timely throws to Chark, Cole and Conley to keep the defense honest. The overall execution of the game plan was on point and it gave the Jaguars a shot at pulling off an upset on the road.
The defense is finally starting to come together under coordinator Todd Wash. The embattled defensive coordinator is getting a strong effort from a lineup of veterans and newbies working to establish some chemistry and continuity. The new faces (cornerback Sidney Jones IV and linebacker Kamalei Correa) are settling in as key contributors and their collective impact has helped the stars (Jack and defensive end Josh Allen) perform at a high level. Wash has assisted in the effort by mixing up his tactics to make quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket. The delicate balance between pressure and coverage has worked well with the Jaguars exhibiting discipline and communication skills in the back end. If Wash can continue to get a solid performance from the secondary in man and zone coverage, the Jaguars will be a thorn in opponents' sides as a solid unit that makes teams earn every yard.