By: Will Brown (@wwbrown19)
Sunday’s loss to Arizona means Jaguars fans will go at least a calendar year without seeing a home victory. The performance in a 27-14 loss against the Cardinals was the most competitive game at EverBank Field this year, but still not enough to win.
One could argue the breaks and officiating did not fall in favor of the Jags. But those are things outside of the team’s control.
What Jacksonville could have controlled are the two turnovers, Carson Palmer throwing for 400 yards for the sixth time in his career, converting two of 14 attempts on third down and making the most of their field position advantage. Howling about Patrick Peterson’s fumble-that-wasn’t and the phantom time out that nullified a Russell Allen interception during the middle of the third quarter may be temporarily soothing. However, neither was the reason the Jags home losing streak has extended to seven games.
The reason the Jags have the worst record in the NFL midway through November is because the team could not play a full 60 minutes of football. Both the offense and defense had lapses that proved costly.
The second half featured both of Chad Henne’s interceptions, the first of which set up a Cardinals field goal.
Entering the game, Arizona was third in the NFL in average starting field position, beginning its average drive at its own 31 yard line. Jacksonville was 23rd in that department. Sunday, the Cardinals started five drives inside their own 10 yard line. On four of those occasions they were forced to punt. The one time they didn’t was a backbreaking 91-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Floyd. Meanwhile, the Jags began three drives beyond the Cardinals 40 yard line in the second half. The result of those possessions: punt, punt, interception.
Arizona was 1-for-7 on third down in the second half. That one conversion was a big one as Floyd’s touchdown came on third down.
As disheartening as it was to watch Floyd abuse seemingly every member of the Jags secondary Sunday, it was equally depressing to watch Carson Palmer have one of the best afternoons of his career.
Historically, when Palmer has thrown for a lot of yards, it’s a good sign for the opposing team. Entering Sunday, Palmer’s team was 2-11 when he threw for 350 or more yards and winless when he threw for 400 or more yards.
It’s easy to find the faults with Sunday’s loss. But, there were some positives. The daring approach that led to Danny Noble’s 62-yard touchdown was nice to see. As was the overall special teams play.
Josh Scobee has been so reliable that most of EverBank Field expected him to make a 60-yard field goal to end the first half. Jordan Todman got loose for a long kickoff return to set up Maurice Jones-Drew’s second quarter touchdown run. Punter Bryan Anger downed a career-high six punts inside the Arizona 20.
The problem is special teams alone are not going to win games. For nearly a decade Oakland had two of the best specialists in Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler yet those Raiders were no closer to the playoffs than these Jaguars are.
The Jags appear to be showing more effort and enthusiasm than they did in September. Of course if those were the only two ingredients for winning in professional football Tim Tebow would be in the NFL.
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