Jaguars vs. Rams, 10 Observations: Special teams fails to execute, offense cools off after hot start

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles discusses the offense's struggles

The Jaguars suffered another letdown at home Sunday in a 27-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at EverBank Field.

This week, the Jacksonville franchise built a social marketing campaign around "earning" a home-field advantage. The results of Week 6 will do little to reinforce that message, as the passing offense continued to falter and the special teams unit failed to execute on several plays.

The loss puts the Jaguars at 0-2 on their "true" home turf this season. The Jaguars won't play at EverBank Field again until Week 9.

Below are 10 observations from the Jaguars' loss to the Rams:

1. Special teams failed to execute in plenty of areas

The Jaguars' special teams tape session is going to be pretty brutal Monday.

The Jaguars somehow gave up 14 points on special teams in the first half. The group also set up the Rams for another three points on a poor punt by punter Brad Nortman, who had his worst game of the season.

The 103-yard kick return by Rams wide receiver Pharoh Cooper could have easily been overlooked had the group not allowed a Nortman punt to be blocked and recovered for a touchdown. 

Following the game, several players on special teams were confused by what happened on both plays.

Rookie linebacker Blair Brown said all of the players were in on their assignments during the kick return, but they failed to make tackles. Backup safeties Peyton Thompson and Jarrod Wilson took the blame for the kick return touchdown. Wilson said it was entirely his fault.

Nortman said he wasn't happy with his performance in the early going but was able to find his groove and adjust as the game went on. He wasn't sure what happened on the punt block. Brown and Thompson were away from the block and didn't see what happened.

It was a rough overall outing for special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis' crew.

 

2. Myers misses two field goals that count, one that doesn't

Jaguars kicker Jason Myers finished the game 1-of-3 on field goals after missing two 54-yard attempts. Those aren't easy field goals but are well within his range. 

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone showed faith in Myers during the second missed attempt in the fourth quarter. The game was winding down and Marrone said he had confidence in the player to make the field goal.

Myers' misses were magnified even further by the fact that he missed a 41-yard field goal that didn't end up counting in the third quarter. The Rams were called for an illegal formation penalty that allowed Myers to attempt a 36-yard field goal that was wiped out by a false start penalty. Myers eventually made another 41-yard attempt.

Myers is 11-of-15 on field goal attempts this season. Known for his big leg, Myers hasn't made a field goal attempt over 47 yards this season. Despite his past success - including a successful 58-yard field goal attempt as a rookie - Myers is 0-of-3 from beyond 50 yards this year.

It's fair to question the level of trust the Jaguars will have with Myers moving forward, especially from the 50-yard range.

 

3. Bortles offers up little in the passing game again

The Jaguars' first two drives were extremely promising. Running back Leonard Fournette ran 75 yards for a touchdown on the Jaguars' first offensive play of the game.

On the second series, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles led a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. It was one of the team's most impressive drives of the year and seemed to put the Jaguars back in motion after the early special teams failure. 

The Jaguars took a 14-7 lead with 6:51 left in the first quarter. After that drive, the promise vanished steadily.

Bortles finished 23-of-35 for 241 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. The interception was thrown a little too far in front of tight end Marcedes Lewis and bounced off his hands into a pick for Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.

Bortles couldn't move the ball consistently throughout the second half, which made not using Fournette more frequently down the stretch all that more evident.

The fourth quarter interception ended one of the Jaguars' few promising offensive series of the game.

 

4. Fournette, Jaguars dodge a bullet in fourth quarter

Fournette is the best player on the Jaguars' offense by a mile. His 75-yard rushing touchdown was a thing of beauty. 

Conversely, his injury scare in the fourth quarter was horrific to the home crowd at EverBank Field. Fournette stood up after a run in the fourth quarter and hobbled to the sideline before falling to the ground. He suffered a right ankle injury.

Luckily for the Jaguars, Marrone said the running back could have returned to the game if the situation presented itself late in the fourth quarter.

Fournette posted 130 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries Sunday. He is constantly carrying the offense, series after series, but was only given 11 touches in the first half. The Jaguars are still trying to find a way to balance his touches throughout the game.

Losing Fournette for the season or even a few games would have put the Jaguars in a really bad spot on offense. It appears they've dodged that bullet.

 

5. Ivory is a receiver?

Jaguars veteran running back Chris Ivory was the team's top receiver on Sunday. He posted nine receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. It was easily a career high in catches for the veteran.

Jacksonville wants to use its running backs as receivers, which makes sense when you consider how much the passing game has struggled. Ivory has really done well as a third-down back this season.

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6. The referees had a bad game too

There were several missed calls on Sunday. The most notable was the Robert Woods fumble that was called dead. Linebacker Telvin Smith clearly caused a fumble and cornerback Aaron Colvin clearly recovered the ball.

The referees said Woods was down by contact and whistled the end of the play. If the whistle doesn't blow there, Colvin is probably scoring a defensive touchdown. The referee's mishap cost the Jaguars points.

There were also a few missed holding and facemask calls on both sides. This wasn't just a "Jaguars against the referees" situation, though the home crowd felt it was that way. 

"Refs, you suck!" chants could be heard after the fumble miscall.

 

7. Campbell is the best free agent signing in the league this season

Defensive end Calais Campbell has eight sacks in six games. Yannick Ngakoue led the team with eight sacks in 16 games last season.Yannick Ngakoue led the team with eight sacks in 16 games last season.

Campbell has changed this defense from a pass rushing perspective. The big man can move around the line and is pretty effective at all positions. 

It's hard to think of a free agent who has delivered such immediate results as Campbell this season or any recent campaign.

He had five tackles and two sacks Sunday.

 

8. The offensive line has a rough game

The Jaguars' offensive line has been among the most consistent groups this season. However, after weeks of success, Sunday's performance was a step back.

After Fournette's 75-yard touchdown run, the group allowed the two running backs to gain just 58 yards on 22 carries (2.8 yards per carry). The unit also gave up five sacks on Bortles.

The Rams had five different defenders get to Bortles. There was no clear fall guy upon watching the game live, but blame can be spread throughout.

 

9. The run defense is still having issues

Rams running back Todd Gurley is among the best offensive players in the game. He was able to pick up 116 rushing yards on 23 carries. His work late in the game helped the Rams control the clock and put the Jaguars away.

The Jaguars allowed Gurley and Malcolm Brown to gain 133 rushing yards on 25 carries (5.3 yards per carry) on Sunday. Marrone brought up the issue after the game, so it was clearly apparent to him as well.

The run defense needs to find a way to clog holes or it won't matter how good the passing defense is in close games.

 

10. The AFC South is up for grabs again

The Jaguars are now in a tie at the top of the division with the Houston Texans, who handled the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. Both teams are 3-3 with the Jaguars holding the tiebreaker due to their Week 1 win.

The Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans play each other on Monday Night Football and the winner will also be 3-3. It's still early, but the division is going to be close for a while.

However, the loss to the Rams doesn't really hurt the Jaguars as much as you may think. The Jaguars are 3-2 against the AFC and are 1-1 against the AFC South. As long as the Jaguars continue to win within the conference and division, Jacksonville should be fine. Granted, that's a decent-sized "if" for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars will travel to Indianapolis next week for a game against the Colts. The up-and-down season may provide another positive outing on the road.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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