JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 34-16 loss to the Detroit Lions at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
1.Answers aren't coming – from anywhere. This was evident throughout Sunday's loss, and became more evident when Head Coach Doug Marrone was asked afterward about not only his own job status but that of defensive coordinator Todd Wash. It was that kind of Sunday at the 'Bank. Marrone made clear Wash will be the coordinator as long as he is the head coach. Marrone also made clear he doesn't believe coaching or effort are causing the losing streak and made equally clear that Wash and the defensive staff are adapting and trying various approaches each week. Marrone said there is talent on the Jaguars. He's right. But he also was right that it's young talent – and young talent plays inconsistently with key mistakes. That has been the case too often this season. And was the case yet again in yet another frustrating Sunday at the 'Bank.
2.The offense – and the quarterback – struggled again. This is now a trend, with the Jaguars' offense struggling to varying degrees since a 33-30 loss to Tennessee in Week 2. The Jaguars tried to establish the run early but managed just 21 yards on 10 first-half carries – and their 108 first-half yards were a season low. Most worrying Sunday were quarterback Gardner Minshew II's continued struggles; he completed 25 of 44 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown for a 70.5 passer rating – and his two second-quarter turnovers (interception, lost fumble) were key moments as the Jaguars failed to take advantage of early opportunities to rally. Minshew summed up the post-game Jaguars vibe when he said: "We're definitely frustrated. It feels like the same story each week. We are trying to figure out what our solution is, we got to start finding it and the urgency should be at an all-time high. … I know you all are sick of hearing it, but come back together, have a good week at practice, and just get ready to win one game at a time." It indeed is the same story each week." Minshew's far from the only reason the Jaguars' story is repeating itself in the last month, but the issues that were questions about him before the season – arm strength, pocket presence – persist. The theme six games into the 2020 season remains clear: While it remains too early to say Minshew can't be the Jaguars' quarterback going forward, he also hasn't proven that that should be the case.
3.The youth on defense is real. Here's perhaps the biggest reason Marrone remains steadfast that Wash will remain the coordinator: he simply believes that what ails the unit is not coaching, and he's right. The Jaguars' defense is young – and while it very definitely has talent, it is young talent. It's also talent that has been unable to stay on the field. The unit on Sunday played without defensive end Josh Allen and defensive tackle Abry Jones, and it finished the game without linebacker Myles Jack and safety Jarrod Wilson. The ongoing lineup turnover was a theme in the postgame comments of linebacker Joe Schobert: "You've got to be able to correct the mistakes in this league to be a winning team, and the reason we're not winning is because some mistakes have happened over and over again. I don't know if it's the same guys every week because we've got new guys playing at every level every week. You've got to just come in and be able to do your job and be accountable to the guy next to you. That's something we all have to work on and get better at."
1.This was a bad day at the 'Bank. Did anything good happen Sunday? I didn't see anything memorable. Maybe wide receiver Keelan Cole's big day, but so much of that came when the game was firmly in the Lion's grasp. Maybe if the Jaguars could have turned Schobert's third-quarter interception at the Lions 20 into points, they might have found a way to fight their way back into the game. But they missed that opportunity and three others in the red zone – just like they missed point blank twice in Houston last Sunday. Sunday's loss to the Lions was an all-around, thoroughly uninspiring performance by a team that talked all week about finding a way to turn things around. With a trip to Los Angeles up next, it seems unreasonable to expect things to change before the bye week.
2.The Lions aren't any good, but they're better than the Jaguars. Detroit was a thoroughly beatable opponent when the day began. Matt Stafford doesn't look like an "elite" quarterback and outside of running back D'Andre Swift and wide receiver Kenny Golladay, the Lions' offense is ho-hum. But they moved the ball up and down the field against the Jaguars' defense. Meanwhile, the Jaguars' offense never got into second gear when the game was in doubt even though the conversation all week was about using the run to set up the pass against a Detroit defense that began the day dead last against the run. Detroit was allowing 5.2 yards per carry and more than 130 yards per game, but an early deficit worked against the Jaguars and running back James Robinson.
3.I could write about turnovers or the lack of pressure… but honestly, I am more interested in all of the Trevor Lawrence talk I heard on the north end zone deck Sunday. No surprise after the Clemson quarterback threw five touchdowns in the first half against Georgia Tech Saturday. But more realistically, the Jaguars fans who congregated up near the pools are simply resigned to their fate this season and hopeful the outlook will change with a potential star quarterback waiting for whichever team finishes with the worst record in football this season. Which team with one win or fewer through six games wouldn't want that guy in their huddle?