Brunell: Jaguars must learn to play smart football

Defense, special teams played well; but offense struggled

By Mark Brunell, News4Jax Jaguars analyst

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - This game was ours to win. The opportunities were there, but once again, too many critical mistakes cost us a "must win" game. 

Penalties, turnovers and our QB taking sacks hurt us. At some point our football team must learn to play smart football. But giving up a lead in the fourth quarter to a team that was clearly off their game was unfortunate. 

I have to give credit to our defense. They came out in the second half and played their best football of the year so far.  They got after Joe Flacco. He was hit and harassed for most of the game, which forced him to throw a couple interceptions at the end of the game. Flacco had 2 INTs and 0 TD passes.

He was also held to only 214 yards in the air.  That's a credit to our pass rush, as well as our secondary play.  The defense stopped the rushing attack of the Ravens as well. The running backs were held to a total of 65 yards. Posluszny continues to impress and made plays all over the field . 

Special teams came up big.  Rashad Greene's 42-yard punt return in the second quarter was a huge play that led to a TD for the Jags. The punt team did their part as well. Denard Robinson's fumble recovery after a Devin Hester drop was a much needed momentum swing for the Jags. It gave us the opportunity to go up 17-16. At this point, everything seemed to be going our way.  The blocked FG at the end was unfortunate, but the offense took a sack, which set them back, and many times long FGs get blocked.

The offense struggled. It took awhile for Blake to get into a rhythm. He made some nice throws on third down, but the INTs hurt. 

Blake will learn a lot from this tape. Especially in the area of when its okay and not okay to take a sack.

Numbers tell the story

It wasn't easy. With a beat up offensive line he, like Flacco, was hit quite a bit. There are times when you simply can't take a sack in the red zone, understanding that it could move you into a long FG situation. 

The sack before the blocked FG was costly.  Again, we have to remember that our QB is still developing and he will certainly learn from this. Also, we struggled running the ball. Only 48 yards, and 17 of them were Blake's.  We need our offensive line to get healthy ASAP.. 

Once again, we are in a "must win" situation. A win in London is critical. Still a lot of football left. Keep believing Jaguar fans. 

Answering fan questions

Q. Do you think Blake Bortles' mechanics are where they were at the end of last season?

A. Blake has worked hard on his mechanics and footwork all off-season. I certainly see improvement. Many have questioned his throwing motion but I don't have any concerns there. As long as his decision-making improves and the ball is on time, it's not a problem.

Q. What's the impact of injuries on the offensive line?

A. Injuries on the offensive line can be devastating. Certainly we saw that Sunday. I thought the pass protection was decent, but once again we were unable to establish the run game.

Q. Was there accountability when you played? Penalties are killing us.

A. Yes, and there is now. Penalties are costly and can lose a game for you. Those who commit them are held accountable.

Q. Bortles with 2 TDs and 3 INTs! How can you expect to win with that stat?

A. Turnovers lose ball games. It's that simple. In his defense, his second INT was tipped at the line of scrimmage. His third was at the end of the game and he was trying to make a play in desperation.

Q. Four Jaguars players held up their fists during the national anthem. How do you think that will be addressed in the locker room? 

A. I can't speak for Gus, but I imagine he allows his players to demonstrate their opinions and beliefs how they see fit.

 

 

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