Packers vs. Jaguars, 10 Observations: Jacksonville hangs with elite offense, special teams shows up

The Jaguars lost to the Green Bay Packers in a very close game that featured constant back-and-forth scoring. Jacksonville was competitive throughout the entire game, despite the firepower of Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and the rest of the Green Bay group.

While the loss hurt because of how much the Jaguars seemed to progress, the maturation itself was eye-opening.

Here are 10 observations from Week 1's loss to the Packers:

1. The timeout usage was awful for the Jaguars and it showed on the offense's fourth quarter drives. The Jaguars used timeouts within a minute of each other with 7:30 remaining in the game. The lack of timeouts likely led to condensed options for the offense on the final drive. 

Another issue with the timeouts is that they were taken due to mental or matchup problems. Those led to momentum issues. 

2. Penalties continue to hurt the Jaguars. Safety Johnathan Cyprien had a 30-yard pass interference call that helped the Packers sneak down the field before halftime and score a touchdown within a minute. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson earned a stupid penalty by pushing Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb while he was out of bounds. Cobb had been called for a facemask penalty, but Jackson's mishap cleared out the Packers setback. The Packers were able to score a field goal off that drive.

Luke Joeckel got lucky after being called for offensive holding on a late drive. A pair of other penalties essentially offered him a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

3. This was the most complete game I have seen from the Jaguars in my time covering the team. The offense, defense and special teams all made major plays and there really wasn't a scapegoat for this loss. The offense moved the ball well, the defense provided several stops and the special teams unit was efficient.

The Jaguars never looked intimidated by the Packers or Rodgers' brilliance. The secondary covered his weapons as long as it could and then some. The run defense - outside of a few big plays by Eddie Lacy - looked dominant at times. 

The offense made big plays consistently. Whether it was a 38-yard catch downfield by Allen Hurns or a 37-yard reception from Marcedes Lewis off a screen pass, the Jaguars were able get yardage quickly. Running back T.J. Yeldon carried the load and looked the part, despite missing his tag team partner Chris Ivory.

4. Special teams shined bright. Punter Brad Nortman nailed punts of 58 and 67 yards and pinned the Packers at their own three-yard line twice. Kicker Jason Myers was 3-of-3 on field goals, including a 50-yard strike. He also made both of his extra point attempts.

5. Gus Bradley took some chances. The Jaguars were 3-of-4 on fourth down against the Packers. Wide receiver Allen Robinson caught two fourth down conversions in one drive. Bradley didn't have to go for the first fourth down attempt, but it did pay off. Taking risks can lead to big results - and in this case - kept the Jaguars in the game.

6. Speaking of Robinson, he was fantastic in the second half. He was also pretty good in the first half if you consider that he should have drawn several pass interference penalties. The referees really dropped the ball on that end. Robinson was held to eight yards on one catch in the first half.

After halftime, quarterback Blake Bortles forced the ball to him, which was the right move. He caught five passes for 64 yards - including two catches on fourth down - and really helped swing some momentum in Jacksonville's favor. He even caught a pass twice on one play.

7. Bortles had some mental errors, but he also had some pretty impressive moments. He had a delay of game penalty and there seemed to be some miscommunication that forced him to take some timeouts.

However, he threw the ball very well throughout most of the game. His 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas was as good as it gets. He had a great throw to Hurns just a few plays earlier.

Bortles never makes it seem like the game is too big for him. He was consistently navigating his offense downfield and he was able to force it to Robinson without throwing an interception.

His numbers, 24-of-39 for 320 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, were solid. The interception was the product of a bad throw and a bad attempt to catch the ball by Marqise Lee. Still, Bortles kept going back to Lee whenever he got the chance.

8. Prince Amukamara had a very good game based on what I saw on Sunday. He was all over Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson during different points in the game. General manger Dave Caldwell said last week that Amukamara is one of the most improved players on the team. It was clear to see why he earned that superlative. 

9. Without seeing the film, I thought the Jaguars offensive line played well. Bortles was sacked three times, but at least two of those were not on the offensive line. The running game worked at times and I thought the downfield blocking worked out well, especially on the screen pass to Lewis. This offensive line has potential, it just needs to continue to take steps in the right direction.

10. The pass rush is still concerning. The Jaguars got one sack on Sunday and it was a loss of less than a yard. Speaking to Jared Odrick after the game, he said he didn't know it was a sack. Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue got some pressure, but it was an underwhelming output from the pass rushing department.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.


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