By: Hays Carlyon
Take a bow, Jaguars defense.
Yes, I’m serious.
There are three phases of the game and the defense “shined” brightest in a 30-14 loss at Houston on Sunday.
The special teams were a huge negative thanks to an atrocious performance by kicker Stephen Hauschka, who missed wide from 24 yards and was short from 49. Short! In a Dome!
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said after the game Hauschka had “no pop in his leg.” Thanks for the memories, Stephen and good luck in your retirement.
Why of all the kickers on the planet the Jaguars gave him this opportunity is a mystery. Don’t they try these guys out before they sign them?
The offense misfired against a Texans team that entered with the NFL’s worst run defense. The Jaguars gained 75 yards on the ground. More galling was the fact that again running back James Robinson was underutilized with 13 carries.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew, who might be hitting his ceiling of what he can be in this league, threw it 49 times with not nearly enough success. There were some great throws, but an acceptable consistency is lacking.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden called one of the most spectacular failures I’ve ever seen on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 8-yard line. With the Texans holding a 13-7 third-quarter lead, Gruden sent Minshew out wide to receiver and then direct snapped it to Robinson. The rookie ran right and lost the handle to the ball before he could pass it downfield. The fumble went out of bounds and the play lost 2 yards. No one was open downfield.
Marrone said the Jaguars have worked on that play a bunch, but admitted the execution was way off.
“I don’t think we sold it well enough because the corner was able to get off on it,” Marrone said. “So, you work on something during the week. You feel comfortable about it, you know when you’re going to call it in that situation, and we just didn’t execute it.”
The Jaguars offense was miserable Sunday. We all knew 14 points wouldn’t cut it with the defensive struggles the Jaguars are having.
That’s why this loss stings so much.
The defense finally gave the team a chance. That was stunning considering the Jaguars were without defensive end Josh Allen, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback CJ Henderson.
The Texans had scored 13 points heading into the fourth quarter. In this offensive age, that’s an achievement.
I thought the Texans might have 30 by halftime.
Look at Houston’s first six possessions. They had one touchdown, two field goals, two interceptions and a punt.
The Jaguars would take that in all of their final 11 games.
Eventually, the defense gave out.
The final numbers were subpar. The defense allowed 486 yards and an average of 8.4 yards a play. The Texans converted 5 of 10 third-down situations.
Still, there were exciting contributions from cornerback Sidney Jones, safety Jarrod Wilson, defensive end Dawuane Smoot and defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
But that’s why this is such a bad football team five weeks into the season. It’s why the Jaguars (1-4) have lost four consecutive games.
Nothing is working well.
There are just shades of bad.
The defense wore the “prettiest” shade on Sunday.
(You can follow Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)