JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2020 season, NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 40-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday
The Jaguars were out of their league in a matchup against the AFC North powerhouse. The Ravens bullied the Jaguars on both sides of the ball, particularly in the trenches. The Ravens' overall physicality and toughness overwhelmed the Jaguars from the start, and the Jaguars didn't respond well to the relentless pressure and constant harassment. Although Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone has been able to get his squad to play with great effort and energy this season, the Jaguars' performance against the Ravens ranks as a major disappointment.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The Ravens rocked the Jaguars from the start with a physical approach on both sides of the ball. The Ravens set the tone with a hard-nosed running game that tallied 159 yards on 37 attempts. Although we've seen more explosive efforts from Baltimore, the combination of quarterback Lamar Jackson and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards running on an assortment of traditional powers and read-option plays kept the Jaguars' defenders on their heels. With Jackson complementing the strong ground effort with an efficient performance (17-of-22 passing for 243 yards with three touchdowns and one interception) as a passer, the Ravens easily handled the Jaguars with the offense leading the way.
Don't be fooled by quarterback Gardner Minshew II's stat line (22-of-29 passing for 226 yards with two touchdowns), the second-year pro put up a pedestrian performance against the Ravens' aggressive tactics. He doesn't handle pressure well and his lack of poise is problematic for an offense desperately looking for a playmaking QB1 to build around. Although Minshew has been able to post solid numbers in garbage time, the Jaguars need him to deliver when it counts to increase their odds of scratching out a win down the stretch.
UNDER THE RADAR
Rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. hasn't compiled big numbers, but he has been a bigger part of the offensive package in recent weeks. The rookie has at least three receptions in each game since returning to the lineup and he continued the streak with a five-catch effort against the Ravens. Despite mustering only 43 receiving yards, Shenault flashes playmaking ability and rugged running skills with the ball in his hands. He is a big-bodied running back in a wide receiver's body and that could make him a dangerous weapon for the Jaguars in the near future.
The Jaguars' offense sputtered against the Ravens' aggressive pressure tactics. Although Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden attempted to counter the aggression with a variety of tactics to establish the run and help his young quarterback find his rhythm, the offense couldn't string together enough first downs to generate points in the first half. After making some halftime adjustments, the offense finally got going. But the game was out of hand and the garbage yards had little impact on the outcome.
The Jaguars didn't have an answer for the Ravens' ground-and-pound attack fueled by Jackson and Co. The 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player teased and tormented the Jaguars with his dual-threat skills, particularly his slick ball-handling ability on option plays. The defense frequently lost track of Jackson's whereabouts and was mesmerized by his ability to execute the hidden-ball trick in the backfield on option plays. The hesitation and uncertainty enabled the Ravens runners to split seams between the tackles or outrun defenders to the corner. They complemented the downhill running game with an efficient aerial attack that featured a variety of short and intermediate passes to the perimeter. With Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash unable to stop the leaks, the Ravens easily posted 40 points in a game that wasn't as nearly as close as the score indicated.