JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 27-23 the Green Bay Packers in the 2016 regular-season opener Sunday
1.This was progress. This won't make the Jaguars feel better. It won't make the fan base feel better, either. But a four-point season-opening loss to Green Bay undoubtedly was progress for the Jaguars. Head Coach Gus Bradley said that's not how the team felt in the locker room after the game – and you could see the disappointment and anger in Bradley and Jaguars players. But the reality was the Jaguars played toe to toe Sunday against a very good team with an elite quarterback. Equally notable was the Jaguars really didn't play all that well. They made several key mistakes, had some silly penalties and squandered some really good opportunities. The really good news for the Jaguars on this front is there was no satisfaction after the game. Being competitive clearly wasn't enough for this team. Still, the Jaguars are growing up – and there were all sorts of signs of that during and after the game.
Images from the Jaguars Week 1 matchup with the Green Bay Packers.
2.Aaron Rodgers is crazy good. This isn't to excuse the loss. This was a game in which the Jaguars had chances – and there are no moral victories for this team anymore. But the Jaguars' defense – and indeed, the team overall – played well for a lot of the game Sunday. But Rodgers is a 12-year veteran elite quarterback and there's a reason he's going to the Hall of Fame. The 29-yard touchdown pass he threw as cornerback Jalen Ramsey held on to his jersey in the first half? That's one of the reasons. Another is the way he steps away from a rush and makes defenses pay for mistakes. The Jaguars' defense needs to improve the pass rush, but the unit won't face many quarterbacks who make you pay for mistakes the way Rodgers does.
3.Blake Bortles is really good, too – and he needs to get more calls. These quick thoughts aren't going to be a season-long forum to discuss officiating, but the Allen Robinson Situation has become obvious. Robinson, the Jaguars' third-year Pro Bowl receiver, was tightly defended throughout Sunday's game – with the coverage so tight in multiple situations that interference could have been called. It may be even be right to say it should have been called. Robinson had several such plays late last season when he didn't get interference calls that appeared to have been missed. Robinson said the right things afterward, essentially saying that if the game is going to be physical he must be more physical. But he also needs to get the respect afforded a Pro Bowl receiver.
1.Losing Chris Ivory was a big blow to a Jaguars offense that hoped to control the game on the ground. T.J. Yeldon made some nice plays but there were moments when having a hammer would have made a big difference. The Jaguars averaged just 1.8 yards per carry and their inability to keep the Packers guessing put way too much pressure on the passing game. This offense is capable of throwing the football 39 times and winning, but not every week. They need to run the ball. On Sunday against the Packers they couldn't and lost.
2.The pass rush isn't fixed … at least not yet. There were four or five opportunities to get a sack, which is a lot against Aaron Rodgers, but guys either missed him or missed their assignments. There were some moments – like the first half when the Packers were backed up against their own goal line and late in the game when Rodgers was bull rushed and threw short to Jordy Nelson on third and long – but Rodgers had all the time he needed on Sunday and that never works against him. The Jaguars have to solve this issue in the next three weeks when they see Phillip Rivers, Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck.
3.There was a greater sense of frustration and even despair in the locker room after the game. The Jaguars know they're better and they believe they should have won. Sometimes, that's half the battle. But you can't beat many teams – let alone the Packers – when you turn the ball over on the opening drive on your side of the field, or give up a 56-yard drive at the end of the half – fight after you've taken the lead. The Jaguars still must overcome some of the same issues that plagued them a year ago. They have to run the ball better. They have to get after the quarterback more consistently. The difference between this season and last is they have the players that can get that done. They have to get that done.