The Jaguars are undermanned on both sides of the ball. Part of the talent discrepancy can be attributed to the team's youth and inexperience, but some of it is overall ability. The Jaguars are attempting to rebuild the roster with homegrown players, and it takes time for young players to grow up in the pro game. Until the Jaguars are able to upgrade the roster with more blue-chip players, the struggles will continue. They might steal a few victories with effort, discipline and determination – but it is hard to outwork more talented teams on a weekly basis.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The Lions beat up the Jaguars with a physical style that overwhelmed Head Coach Doug Marrone's squad all over the field. The Jaguars tapped out after receiving a barrage of body blows from a Lions team that seemed intent on making the game a street fight. Sure, the turnovers and defensive lapses on "money" downs played a role – but the Jaguars lost the physical battle. That ultimately led to the loss.
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II deserves credit for outworking the competition to become the Jaguars' QB1, but it is becoming more apparent each week that the former sixth-round pick has some limitations as a starter. Minshew has regressed since the beginning of the season with his accuracy issues and questionable poise repeatedly showing up on tape. He missed a handful of layups to open receivers on the perimeter and his misfires have started to draw the ire of his pass-catchers. From the pocket, Minshew's lack of poise and suspect judgment has led to more turnovers from the young quarterback. He lost a fumble on a strip sack and had an errant floater picked off after a poor read. Although the Jaguars' offensive woes are not strictly on No. 15, it is hard to ignore his scattershot performance when studying the coaches' tape.
UNDER THE RADAR
The Jaguars have quietly assembled an A-level wide-receiver corps with a collection of talented players plugged into roles that perfectly suit their talents. Keelan Cole is rarely discussed on the national stage, but he is an outstanding "chain mover" with crafty route-running skills. He has a knack for getting open against man coverage while also flashing the awareness to sit down in the open windows against the zone. The fourth-year pro is a perfect complement to DJ Chark Jr. (WR1) and Laviska Shenault Jr. (designated playmaker) on the perimeter.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden discussed taking some of the load off Minshew's shoulders by leaning into the running game, but the Jaguars continue to struggle to get into a rhythm early in games. Rookie running back James Robinson finished with only 29 rushing yards on 12 carries and had little impact on the game. He must play a bigger role in the offensive game plan for the Jaguars to have any chance of winning going forward. Minshew can lead the team to victories as a "game manager" but putting too much on his plate is a recipe for disaster for a young team looking to develop an identity as a rough and rugged squad.
Defensive coordinator Todd Wash is playing with his hands tied behind his back with so many young players in the lineup. He is attempting to accelerate the maturation and development of the group while winning games against competitive squads. With defensive end Josh Allen sidelined with an injury, the Jaguars are unable to generate a pass rush and the extended time enables quarterbacks to pick apart a secondary that struggled in coverage. When the secondary is in a perfect position to make plays on the ball, their lack of discipline and awareness leads to penalties (defensive pass interference and defensive holding) that extend drives. Until the Jaguars are able to curb some of their self-inflicted miscues and eliminate the gifts to the opponents, they will continue to take come up short on the scoreboard.