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Jaguars' struggles continue in a 34-16 loss to Lions

After winning the season opener, Jacksonville has now lost five straight
Credit: AP
Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift (32) leaps over Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) and defensive tackle Taven Bryan (90) for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Even a little "home cookin'" for the first time in three weeks could not right the ship. 

The Jaguars' defense struggled early. The offense was anemic. Their kicker missed a field goal for the fifth straight game (in his defense, this was kicker Jon Brown's first-ever NFL game).

Not exactly a recipe for success. And the box score reflected as such: Jacksonville fell to the Lions (2-3) 34-16 at TIAA Bank Field Sunday, in a game that was never really that close. 

After the Jaguars went three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, Matthew Stafford and the Lions marched right down the field, the fourth time in six games the Jaguars' opponent has scored on its opening drive. Detroit would score another touchdown on its second drive, putting the Jaguars in a 14-3 hole, and never looked back.

Stafford finished 19 of 31 for 223 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. All three of Detroit's running backs saw action, with rookie D'Andre Swift leading the way with 116 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. The Lions had 25 first downs compared to the Jaguars 16.

It is the fifth straight game in which the Jaguars' defense has surrendered 30 or more points. But head coach Doug Marrone remains committed to defensive coordinator Todd Wash.

"Yes, as long as I’m here and I’m the head coach, yes, he’s safe," Marrone told reporters post-game.

The Jaguars were without two key pieces of their defensive line in Josh Allen (knee) and Abry Jones (ankle/hamstring). Linebacker Myles Jack would also exit in the second half with yet another ankle injury. But fellow linebacker Joe Schobert -- one of the few bright spots for Jacksonville on Sunday -- said there is no excuse.

"The NFL is a next-man up mentality and you’ve got to have the guys who come in, stepping up and making the plays that Abry would be making if he was in there. And then obviously Josh (Allen) is a one-of-a-kind guy coming off the edge. So, it always hurts not to have them, but I think we’ve still got talent coming off the edge, we’ve still got guys who can do their jobs and I’ve got full faith in those [players]."

"Trust" was also a hot topic post-game on the offensive side of the ball.

After starting five of six to begin the day, Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars' offense struggled to get any sort of continuity in the second half. Minshew finished 25 of 44 for 243 yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. He was picked off once and also had a fumble. 

“They’re a very good defense and very well coached. That’s one thing that stands out. They did a good job mixing their blitzes and mixing their coverage. We never really got settled in and we just need to do a better job starting faster and getting in that rhythm a little sooner," Minshew said.

Pro Bowl wide receiver D.J. Chark echoed those sentiments -- and then some.

"I mean, I felt like [receivers] were open," Chark said. "We have to get on the same page and we have to move the ball more efficiently so we don’t get to a point where we’re just throwing the ball and they can just sit back and not do anything. I don’t think there’s a DB in the league that can just sit there and follow every play and just completely shut down (a wide receiver) without any help. I think, when we get behind, and you’re up by a touchdown or two, you play safe as a defense. You play off, you force everything underneath, you send pressure and I think that’s what they did.”

Chark also noted that he has "been on" offensive coordinator Jay Gruden about not only getting him the ball, but also rookie running back James Robinson. Facing the worst-rushing defense in the league, the Jaguars were held to 44 yards on the ground. Robinson had 29 yards on 12 carries, but did score his first receiving touchdown of his career. 

"At the end of the day, the plays are being called and the attempts are there. [Coach Gruden] can’t go catch it for me, he can’t throw it to me, he can’t hand it to James [Robinson] himself. I think we just have to find a way to make things happen," Chark said. 

The lone bright spot was wide receiver Keelan Cole, the first Jaguars' receiver to go over 100 yards in a single season. The fourth-year receiver had 143 yards on six catches. 

Jacksonville (1-5) travels to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers (1-4) next Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST. This game, originally scheduled for Week Eight, was switched to Week Seven due to scheduling conflicts created by COVID-19 shutdowns in the NFL.