Coaches talk all the time about “overcoming adversity.” When it comes to a young team like the Jaguars, sometimes the adversity is self-imposed. For the first eight games of the season, they made mistakes and failed to capitalize on the mistakes of their opponents enroute to an 0-8 record. For that adversity, Head Coach Gus Bradley kept the team together and told him they were getting better and hang in there. That’s how they got to 4-1 in the second half of the year. Almost as if the first 8 games hadn’t happened.
Early against the Buffalo Bills, Chad Henne threw an interception that lead to three points. No problem, they bounced back from that to tie the game at 3 with a Josh Scobee field goal. They even took a 10-3 lead on a nifty play by Ace Sanders. Say one thing for Jedd Fisch: He’s designing plays that take advantage of the players’ talents. Sanders doesn’t have great straight line speed but he can juke with the best of them. So getting the ball to him in open space in short yardage is a very positive move.
So things are going well for the Jaguars, even backing the Bills up inside their own ten after a punt and a penalty. But then the adversity or a “lull’ started to creep in. The Bills completed a 29-yard pass on third down and subsequently marched right down the field for a 94-yard touchdown drive. After a 3 and out from the Jaguars offense, the Bills went right down the field again for 73 yards to make it 17-10. And when the Jaguars looked like they were going to at least get a field goal on the half’s final drive, Mike Brown’s drop was ruled a fumble, leading to a field goal and a 20-10 halftime lead for Buffalo.
So how do the Jaguars respond to that adversity? They stop the Bills on a 3 and out to open the second half and march right down field, only to have Denard Robinson fumble the ball at the goal line while he was trying to reach into the end zone. (Instead of just plowing through the goal line) Those are the kind of plays you hope young players like Robinson learn from. Secure the ball in this league all the way to the ground if you have to. The guys in the NFL are pretty good and know what to do, even out of desperation.
Instead of folding, the Jaguars still hung in there. You have to think that all of the bad things they’ve been through and some of the success they’ve had are allowing them to focus on what they’re doing RIGHT NOW instead of wallowing in either their success or failure.
Bradley’s philosophy of being motivated “be being your personal best” doesn’t involve the scoreboard. It encourages the players to go play to play without thinking about the past or the future. It’s why you see the Jaguars playing hard at the end of games, even if they’re out of it.
So each time Buffalo did something good, the Jaguars would answer.
At some point their youth, inexperience and lack of talent will catch up with them in these situations where they let the other team stay in the game with turnovers and mistakes. But against Buffalo, an equally challenged team, they stayed in it until the end. They had their chances but a 4th turnover (Henne’s second INT) stopped a Jaguars drive right at the goal line. I’m not sure why you would throw a “jump ball” to Jordan Todman, a 5’10” running back instead of 6’6” Marcedes Lewis doesn’t make any sense and Henne and the Jaguars paid for it.
Even if the defense did force a Buffalo punt, the Jaguars just didn’t have enough talent, especially at receiver to mount a drive. Henne’s 4th down pass was well out of bounds anyway, and the Bills win 27-20.
If there’s still no such think as a moral victory in the league, the Jaguars just come away with a loss but to turn it over 4 times and have a mid-game lapse that put the Bills ahead . . .and still be in it at the end is another step in the right direction for Bradley’s troops.
If the team had taken three steps forward during the three game winning streak, the loss to the Bills as at least a half step backwards.