Photo credit: Â Allyson Wraggs/NFLFemale
Jacksonville Jaguars – More of the Same?
Panthers 20 Jaguars 9
By Allyson Wraggs @ally32250
Okay. I’ll admit that NFL 101 advises not to pay much attention to preseason. But do we really abide by that? Do we not get excited when we end up with a good preseason record? Or when our players, especially our starters, make excellent plays? Equally, do we not worry when nothing goes right in preseason? When quarterbacks aren’t making throws? When the defense gives up big plays? I think it’s only natural to take what you saw in preseason into the first regular season game. It’s a starting point for expectations, and a gauge for what improvements need to be made.
So, what happened to the Jacksonville Jaguars in their first regular season game on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers? Jaguars fans were expecting big things from Blake Bortles after him going 39 of 60 for 461 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs in 3 preseason games. He looked very much in control of his offense in preseason. He had worked diligently in the offseason on his mechanics, and it showed. However, on Sunday, Bortles and his offense looked eerily similar to 2014, a year that would only see 3 wins for Jacksonville.
After Jacksonville got the ball first to start the game, they failed to achieve a first down. On Carolina’s first possession, kicker, Graham Gano, would kick a 43 yd field goal to get the Panthers on the board first, up 3-0. Jason Myers, Jacksonville’s kicker would answer that score with a 22 yd field goal of his own to tie the game at 3. That was all the scoring to be had in the 1st quarter, as the Jaguars struggled on each offensive possession. Cam Newton would eventually connect with Jerricho Cotchery for a 7 yd touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter.Â With 1:52 left in the 1st half, Corey Grant would return the kickoff for 40 yds, to set Bortles and the offense up with good field position. One place where Bortles always seemed to excel in 2014, was in the two minute drill. Sunday would be no different, as we watched him connect on several short passes of 6 and 7 yds, run one for 12 yds, then hit receiver Allen Hurns for a 24 yd gain to the 1 yd line. Bortles then connected with FSU rookie Rashad Greene, for a 1 yd touchdown reception. The PAT was missed by Jaguars kicker Jason Myers, and the Jaguars would go into halftime down 10-9 to the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina got the ball first in the 2nd half, and after the Jaguars defense was able to stop them, Bortles and the offense were back on the field. After a couple of short runs and an 11 yd completion to Allen Hurns, Bortles threw a screen pass to his right that was intended for RB TJ Yeldon, but was picked off by Panthers CB Josh Norman and ran in for a 30 yd touchdown.
At that point, the Jaguars were only down by 8, with 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. There was plenty of time. But you could tell that the pick 6 had really affected Bortles. Something he, nor his offense, were able to recover from. I’ve always heard that quarterbacks need to have short term amnesia after making a mistake. It’s imperative that they put it behind them, and move on. I’m positive that’s easier said than done, especially for a 2nd year QB. Bortles would go on to throw another interception in the 4th quarter, and the Panthers would go on to win the game 20-9.
60,000+ Jaguars fans would once again find themselves leaving the stadium, heads held low, full of disappointment. The game was a mirror image of the 2014 season. Will it continue for the 2015 season? Only time will tell. With us facing Miami, New England and Indianapolis in the next three games, things will definitely not get easier. Regardless, like many Jaguars fans, I’ll never give up.
Football season is back! And there’s nothing I love more than the walk to the stadium, the smell of fired up grills, teal and black everywhere, in anticipation of a Jaguars win! Maybe this week will be our week.