By Dustin Fletcher | email@example.com
Wow, this game did not go as myself or as many other analysts and journalists expected. The Jaguars were favored to win by three, but they did NOT cover the spread. It was a beating from start to finish, and Dallas played as well as any team has this season. The Jaguars, on the other hand, looked like the Jaguars of old, excluding last season. They looked like nearly the worst team in the league at times, but there were a few bright spots.
Defense beaten through the ground and in the air
The Jaguars gave up 40 points on Sunday. 40. This was a far cry from the performances the Jaguars had last season and in the beginning of this season. Last week against the Chiefs, the Jags gave up 30 points. I thought this to be a one off, however, this week giving up 40 points shows there may be some deeper issues. The team has not looked the same the past two weeks, and the secondary has looked anything but shutdown. The Chiefs have a prolific offense and average more than 30 points a game, but the Cowboys were averaging less than 17.
Quarterback Dak Prescott was struggling all year but beat Jacksonville on the ground and made throws to receiver Cole Beasley all day who had nine receptions for over 100 yards and multiple touchdowns. The Jags simply must do better as there were many busted coverages over the middle in their base zone cover two scheme.
Ezekiel Elliot rushed for over 100 yards and did what he does best, running the ball. This shows why he is leading the NFL in rushing yards. Prescott also ran for 82 yards on 11 carries in a career day on the ground. The Jags briefly looked better early on in the 2nd half, but fell apart again soon after. Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell were able to get to the quarterback and make plays a few times, but for the most part, the Cowboys offensive line dominated the trenches all day.
Jags offense anemic in blowout
This was an awful performance on both sides of the ball for the Jaguars, who had seven points all day and never had a chance to establish the run game–their bread and butter–and control the tempo of this game. They played from behind the whole way through, and had to throw the ball time and time again, and the Cowboys defense shut the oft-maligned offense down.
David Irving made his season debut and looked sharp for Dallas. Lineman Taco Charlton was prolific in stopping the run game. Cornerback Byron Jones followed Keelan Cole all day and made him completely ineffective. The Cowboys defense did this without star linebacker Sean Lee. The Jaguars offensive line needs to get better, and fast. The team signed Andrew Norwell to an albatross of a contract in the offseason and he has not yet showed his worth.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has looked all but consistent. This was another day of a “Mr. Hyde” performance where he did not complete many passes for a significant gain and turned the ball over on a very rash decision to throw the ball into triple coverage. With an average of 5.7 yards per attempt, Bortles was well below average. His sole touchdown on the day was to second year receiver Dede Westbrook for 34 yards on a crossing route in the third quarter. This was Westbrook’s only significant contribution on the day as his other two catches combined for 4 yards.
As has been the case many times this season, T.J. Yeldon was a bright spot for this offense, but he was not utilized nearly as much as he should have been. He averaged over 5 yards per carry, which is elite, however, he only carried the ball eight times. He also had three catches for 29 yards. The Jags barely even broke the 200-yard barrier, which is not acceptable for a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch combined for 20 tackles and could not be blocked in the loss. This team needs to improve, and fast. This is the first serious adversity the team has faced in the past two seasons, and they need to respond quickly before the season starts to slip away. The Titans would love nothing more than to win a division title and the season showdown with the Jags, and it simply can’t happen.
The team was OK on special teams, all in all against the Cowboys. Rookie punter Logan Cooke has a 61-yard punt, and had two balls downed within the 20 against the Cowboys. Jaydon Mickens was hurt on his only punt return on a trick play toss to rookie D.J. Chark, which went for -8 yards. Mickens left the field helped by teammates and coaches and it appeared to be an ankle injury. Kicker Josh Lambo’s perfect field goal and extra point streak continued as he converted on an extra point in his only chance of the game. Cooke got much more action due to the lack of Jags offense, but Lambo was not provided chances to make a difference on special teams.
Prediction: Jaguars 24- Cowboys 17
The Jags did not deliver on defense and could not stop the run, or Cole Beasley specifically. The offense did not get going, which was expected, but not to this degree. This should have been a close game on paper, but ended up in a blowout. Poor execution and defensive miscommunications were the Jaguars’ undoing and cannot continue to spill into next week at home against the Houston Texans. Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins are much more dangerous through the air and Watson is much more dangerous with his legs than Prescott.
The team must clean up these mistakes this week. Bortles and the offensive line must learn to handle the pass rush in a better way than no yards and few turnovers or many yards and many turnovers. This team is held to a high standard, as they should be after nearly representing the AFC in the Super Bowl last season. It’s been a mixed bag.