Jaguars Mailbag: Why did the Steelers stop running? What is the root of the passing game struggles?

This week's edition of the Jaguars Mailbag features questions about the Week 5 win, the passing game and more.

Mark Ackerman asks: Were you surprised with how little the Steelers ran the ball Sunday?

MK: I wasn't surprised, as the Steelers used running back Le'Veon Bell quite frequently in the passing game. The second-half turnovers also hurt Pittsburgh's ability to use the running game.

Bell had 25 touches for 93 total yards. He was involved as an offensive weapon but when the Steelers went down by 13 points in the span of a few minutes, it changed Pittsburgh's approach.

Good defenses force opposing offenses to do things they don't want to do. The Steelers probably wanted to run a lot because of the coverage issues the Jaguars brought on. Pittsburgh was unable to follow through because the Jaguars' coverage put the Steelers in a heavy bind.

It's really a credit to the Jaguars' defense.

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Stoph asks: Who are the passing game struggles on: the quarterback or the receivers?

MK: It's certainly magnified on the quarterback, but I'd argue it's a bit of both. 

Blake Bortles has been inaccurate over the last two weeks. He has completed just 23-of-49 passes. There have been some pretty bad overthrows.

When a quarterback can't find a rhythm it can sink an offense. Momentum is huge in the NFL and not being able to establish a passing game is a good way to fall behind in the battle for field position.

However, none of the receivers have really separated themselves as go-to targets. Marqise Lee came into yesterday's game with four drops in as many games. Allen Hurns' production has been very inconsistent. The Jaguars have yet to establish a third option. 

No one is really extending plays after contact, which also hurts the offense. The tight end position has provided little support from a receiving perspective outside of Week 3, so that also plays into it.

Ultimately, it all falls on the quarterback, but he isn't alone in the blame.

 

@Jvillesfinest asks: With no passing game at all can these Jaguars depend on Leonard Fournette and the defense to win more games?

MK: They are going to have to depend on the defense and running game to sustain success.

It's tough to depend on an inconsistent passing game. That's what the Jaguars have right now.

However, they also have a very talented running back group and a defense that can produce turnovers. The big outputs by both groups are probably unsustainable, but the promise isn't all that far-fetched.

If the Jaguars continue to win the turnover battle and run the ball well, they should be in every game. If they continue to dominate opposing offenses, it will make the passing game an afterthought. 

Bortles needs to make plays but the team's success isn't all about him. In fact, he's only been the key to one of the team's three wins this season.

There will be times where the running game fails or the defense falters (like last week against the New York Jets). The passing game will need to step up. If they do, the Jaguars should be able to win a few more games.

Follow Mike Kaye and ask him your mailbag questions at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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