The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to want to quickly forget their Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans, but it will take some understanding first of exactly what went wrong.
The Jaguars failed on multiple levels in the 37-21 blowout loss, from coaching to execution to simple things such as lining up correctly. The Jaguars did show some good things, too, but they took another step backward before being able to inch forward.
Whose stock is rising and whose is falling following the first week? Taking both performances and situational usage into account, we give our picks below.
At the end of the day on Sunday, it was clear the Jaguars only had two offensive linemen who consistently played at a winning level: left guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder. The tackles were inconsistent as A.J. Cann allowed seven pressures per Pro Football Focus, leading to the Jaguars’ entire success of the line relying on Linder and Norwell. Linder had his own issues, though, including a bad holding penalty on the second drive of the game that negated a long James Robinson run. As a result, the lone offensive lineman who can say they left Sunday’s game with positive marks is Norwell, who was rock-solid in pass-protection and solid in the run game when asked to move defenders.
Allow some crow to be eaten here; after a lackluster preseason, Carlos Hyde ran extremely well when called upon against Houston. The veteran running back ran with more juice than expected, picking up 44 yards on nine carries, with 19 coming after contact per PFF. Hyde was better than Robinson as both a pass-catcher and pass-blocker as well, which was widely unexpected entering game week. After it looked like Hyde was a somewhat wasted use of touches in the preseason, Hyde picked it up on Sunday and ran hard with good speed, while also looking strong in the passing game.
Marvin Jones Jr.
Marvin Jones Jr. didn’t have a great catch-to-target ratio, catching 5 of 9 targets, but he made the most of the accurate throws Lawrence sent his way. He turned his five catches into 77 yards (15.4 yards per catch) and one touchdown, while catching several first-downs and winning for Lawrence in a contested-catch situation. Jones was credited by the NFL with one drop, but ultimately he was the Jaguars’ best receiver in terms of his ability to consistently bail Lawrence out of negative plays. Lawrence’s passer rating when targeting Jones (121.1) was significantly better than when he targeted other receivers, as well. Jones ran good routes, had good hands, and made his rookie quarterback look better on multiple occasions.
One of the few Jaguars’ defenders who consistently won his reps was defensive end/outside linebacker Josh Allen, who left the game with four pressures (per Pro Football Reference), two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, and one sack. Allen was consistently going back-and-forth with Houston left tackle Laremy Tunsil, winning his fair share of pass-rush reps. Tunsil is one of the best tackles Allen will play all season, so it was encouraging to see him active in the backfield, even if Tyrod Taylor’s mobility prevented his pressures from making more of an impact.
Tre Herndon didn’t play a snap in the season-opener, but he instead finds himself on this list as the result of Tyson Campbell’s performance in his place. Herndon missed the game with an MCL injury and is expected to return in the next several weeks, leaving Campbell, the No. 33 overall pick, alone in the slot to face off against veteran receiver Danny Amendola. Campbell looked like a rookie making his NFL debut as well, allowing five catches on five targets for 80 yards, four first downs, and one touchdown according to Pro Football Focus. Campbell had issues with Amendola’s quickness throughout the day, leading to the question of just how much he will play when Herndon returns.
One of the few skill players who had a complete game for the Jaguars was veteran tight end Chris Manhertz. Manhertz showed good speed and hands down the seam on Lawrence’s first career touchdown pass early in the first-half, while he also had a good game as a pass-blocker and run-blocker. He had several key blocks at the second level and was a big part of the protection plan for Lawrence when the Jaguars opted to max-protect to push the ball downfield. With the offensive line and the receivers each struggling, Manhertz could be looked to more and more as the season progresses.
As much as the Jaguars’ offense struggled on Sunday, most could have predicted that would be chalked up to some purely rookie mistakes from Lawrence. And while those mistakes did occur to the tune of Lawrence’s first-ever three-interception game, his line didn’t do him many favors. Lawrence was frequently moved off his spot as a result of interior pressure, forcing him to either get rid of the ball quickly or attempt to break out of the pocket. Right guard A.J. Cann was the primary culprit, frequently allowing the Texans’ defense to collapse the pocket around the Jaguars’ rookie passer. Cann is an experienced starting guard who shouldn’t still be allowing the most pressures on the team, especially when nearly all of the pressures of the game could be credited to him alone.
Urban Meyer and his coaching staff
The Jaguars simply looked unorganized for the entirety of Sunday’s game — on all three levels. The special teams were disjointed in terms of their blocking ability and even lined up with just 10 players at one point. The offense had several procedural issues in crucial moments, getting two illegal formation penalties (one when it was 0-0, one when it was 14-7) and a penalty for 12 players in the huddle when it was 17-7. The Jaguars had to burn two timeouts before the first quarter even ended because they were slow to get the play off and would have otherwise been hit with a delay of game. On defense, the Jaguars were beat over and over by obvious man-coverage beater concepts, not showing much willingness to adapt. For example, there is no reason Damien Wilson should be lined up on the perimeter covering a running back. All in all, it was a really, really bad showing from a coaching staff that already had work to do to prove themselves.
On one hand, K’Lavon Chaisson had a fine game in terms of actually getting into the backfield. He slipped under several blocks against both the run and as a pass-rusher. On the other hand, Chaisson’s Achilles heel from his rookie season crept up again in two big spots. On one play, Chaisson got past pulling linemen to meet the running back in the hole, but he completely whiffed on the tackle attempt, leading to a seven-yard gain near the goal-line. Then on Tyrod Taylor’s 52-yard completion to Brandin Cooks with 0:12 left in the first-half, Chaisson missed an unblocked free run at Taylor — and then missed on a second attempt to sack the veteran quarterback. Chaisson does a good job of creating disruption, but he has continued to struggle at actually finishing the play for a positive impact.
It is never a good sign when you see a starter get pulled before the first game is even in the books, but that is what happened with Andrew Wingard on Sunday. The Jaguars said they would start Wingard and then rotate him with Andre Cisco, but the Jaguars instead started Wingard and left him on the field for two-and-a-half quarters. Wingard failed to make several plays on the ball in coverage and was also credited by PFF with a team-leading two missed tackles, leading to the Jaguars taking him off the field for Cisco as the second-half got more out of hand.
A terrific run-defender, Damien Wilson’s key flaw has always been his ability against the pass. He is slower in space than many starting linebackers and this showed on Sunday. He allowed one major 25-yard gain to Pharoh Brown after losing the tight end in man coverage, while also being beaten badly by David Johnson in a one-on-one rep on the outside that would have been a touchdown with a better throw. Wilson shouldn’t have been put into that situation, but it did show to an extent that his pass coverage skills may be a liability.
James Robinson was good as a rusher when given chances by the Jaguars’ staff. He carried the ball just five times but made several defenders miss in space and would have had two big runs added to his stat line without penalties on other members of the offense. With that said, Robinson finds himself on this list for two reasons: first, the Jaguars gave him official carries even though he played 64% of the offensive snaps. The lack of usage of Robinson, especially compared to Carlos Hyde, was staggering. Secondly, Robinson dropped two of his six targets, with each being genuinely bad drops. It was Robinson’s worst performance as a pass-catcher of maybe his entire career since he was so good in that department only a year ago.
Jamal Agnew was on the field for 14 offensive snaps but didn’t touch the ball nor get targeted once, negating any potential offensive impact for the Pro Bowl returner. This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if Agnew made an impact on special teams, but he returned his two punt attempts for a grand total of one yard. Ultimately Agnew looked more like a miss at an attempt of an active roster spot than a potential game-changer, which will have to change moving forward.