Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Sexton-Oehser quick thoughts: Bengals 33, Jaguars 25

2020-10-04 - Quick Thoughts Thumbnail

Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 33-25 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday …

Oehser …

1.A thin defense is now well beyond that. "Difficult" doesn't adequately describe Sunday for the Jaguars' defense. Perhaps most frustrating for the unit Sunday was it began the game with two of its better quarters of the season, holding the Bengals to 10 points with a solid first half against the run. Then came a disastrous second half. The Jaguars allowed Bengals running back Joe Mixon 131 second-half yards and two touchdowns in the half, and the defense never could get the Bengals off the field when it mattered – allowing scores on all five second-half possessions. Cornerback CJ Henderson left the game with a shoulder injury and cornerback DJ Hayden left on a cart with a hamstring injury. The worst news on the injury front – which we'll cover in the ensuing quick thought – was the loss of linebacker Myles Jack to an ankle injury. This unit's struggles have been well-documented in four games. Sunday was not only the roughest performance yet; it left an already thin unit frighteningly so.

2.Myles Jack is playing at a Pro Bowl level. There was no official word late Sunday on the extent of Jack's injury, but any time lost for Jack would be significant. The fifth-year veteran through four games was playing at the highest level of his career – a level that could put him in Pro Bowl consideration by season's end. Jack, who moved to the weakside position from the middle when the Jaguars signed middle linebacker Joe Schobert as an unrestricted free agent from Cleveland in the offseason, on Sunday made the sort of play that earns postseason accolades – ripping a would-be touchdown pass from Bengals tight end Drew Sample in the end zone with a play that displayed Jack's high-level instincts and athletic ability. Jack was criticized too often last season while playing in the middle, but he has flourished this season. If he continues this level of play, he could earn postseason accolades. An extended absence would be the worst possible news for this defense right now.

3.The long-term quarterback story is getting more uncertain. Make no mistake: Just like last week, an up-and-down performance by Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II does not mean he's not the quarterback of the future – just as two good performances in Weeks 1 and 2 didn't make him The Guy. But Minshew now has thrown four interceptions in three games, and Sunday marked a second consecutive game in which he struggled with a defense containing him in the pocket and playing soft zone against him. Minshew's numbers were impressive Sunday: 27 of 40, 351 yards, two touchdowns with an interception. But when the Bengals took control of the game in the third quarter, Minshew went one of five for seven yards on back-to-back three-and-outs. The major storyline entering the season was whether Minshew is the long-term quarterback. Through four games, we still don't know.

Sexton …

1.Minshew looked lost today. Don't let the numbers in the fourth quarter fool you. When the outcome was undecided, he was bad. He had plenty of time in the pocket but was too often indecisive – which made it seem worse than it was. Minshew sailed passes over receivers heads, threw a couple into the dirt – and even on the tipped-ball interception placed the ball behind tight end Tyler Eifert where the safety could make a play on it. He was the talk of the NFL after bringing the Jaguars back in that close loss in Nashville, but he has struggled since then. He has moments where you want to say you see it, but he has just as many where you can say you don't.

2.There may be talent on the defensive side of the ball, but we didn't see it Sunday. The Jaguars couldn't get to the quarterback, couldn't hold up against the run and couldn't cover – especially in the middle of the field. On top of that, I thought they were bad tackling Sunday. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 70 percent of his passes for 300 yards and wasn't sacked a week after taking eight from the Eagles while Mixon averaged six yards per carry and scored three touchdowns and receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins combined for 11 catches and 167 yards. Granted: the Jaguars were without Henderson for most of the game and lost Jack, who has been their best defender this season. Their lack of playmakers in the secondary leaves everything else exposed – and Hayden's fourth-quarter injury leaves them even thinner. I have said the defense can play better. Without those three guys, that's unlikely.

3.The Jaguars' offensive line gave them a chance today. They're playing good football up front, creating room for rookie running back James Robinson and time for Minshew. There was a school of thought that this group would hold the offense back in 2020, but Jay Gruden dispelled that myth before the opener – and the offensive line has backed up its' offensive coordinator. Consider that starting center Brandon Linder hasn't played since the first half of a Week 2 loss at Tennessee and there is room for optimism on offense.

Related Content