After a tough year in 2014, the Jaguars were looking for a hot, confident start, but unfortunately on Sunday got off on the wrong foot.
Jacksonville is a small city with only one sports team, and they look to that team to add spark to their city. With the offseason additions of Julius Thomas, Sergio Brown and several new draft picks, people thought there could be potential for a playoff team.
To open the season the Jaguars welcomed in the Carolina Panthers who are also coming off of a sub-par year. Carolina is lead by Cam Newton, one of the more talented and mobile quarterbacks in the National Football League. The Panthers, however, are also dealing with injured players like Kelvin Benjamin, one of their young star wide receivers.
The game started slow, tied at 3-3 after one quarter. The Panthers struck gold in the 2nd quarter with Cam Newton’s 7-yard toss to Jericho Cotchery taking the 10-3 lead. The touchdown was due to poor pass coverage by the Jaguars secondary, which seemed to be a common theme on short passes.
One positive for the Jaguars was to see co-captain and defensive powerhouse Paul Posluszny back in action after missing most of last season with an injury. Posluszny started his 100th game on Sunday making him the 7th highest current linebacker for amount of games started.
Posluszny, an 8-year veteran looked to come in today and make an impact in some way, and he did just that with 5 tackles on the day and one very athletic interception that was a major highlight for the Jaguars.
“We were just in zone coverage, on my landmark, reading the quarterbacks eyes,” Posluszny said in the locker room. “It was fundamental football and then had a chance to make a play on the ball.”
Coming into this season there was plenty of hype surrounding the Jaguars’ 2nd round pick, TJ Yeldon, out of Alabama. Yeldon had a terrific career with the Crimson Tide and year after year was one of the standout running backs in the SEC. In his first regular season game, Yeldon finished the day with 51 yards rushing on 12 attempts and 3 receptions for 16 yards. Overall not a bad day for the 2nd round pick who clearly felt right at home.
“I felt comfortable on the first couple drives and I was just getting used to the game speed,” he said. “I only played one preseason game, but today overall was a good day.”
The Jaguars unfortunately had a number of injuries including former 1st round pick, Luke Joeckel, who left in the middle of the game due to an ankle injury. Rookie Rashad Greene caught Blake Bortles’ only touchdown of the day, but was knocked out at the end of the game with a concussion.
Bortles did not have one of his best days, completing just 22 of his 40 passes for only 183 yards. Bortles is still young and working with a new running back and young receivers, so he may need some time to find his rhythym.
Kicker Jason Myers, who is attempting to fill the big shoes of long-time veteran, Josh Scobee, missed a field goal and one extra point that could have easily kept this team in the game.
Unfortunately, the Jags lost 20-9, but as the first game of the season there is still hope for this team.
Next week the Jaguars welcome a rejuvenated Miami Dolphins team to town. The Dolphins had a busy off-season, re-signing their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, to a big extension, and bringing in defensive powerhouse Ndamukong Suh. The Jags will be looking for a win before they embark on a three game road trip that includes games in Indianapolis and New England.