In a battle of struggling but exciting teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars traveled west to play the Los Angeles Chargers at the new SoFi Stadium. The game was up for grabs in the fourth quarter, but the Chargers did enough to secure the win, defeating the Jaguars by a final score of 39-29.
Even though both teams face an uphill battle to make the playoffs, here are five noteworthy aspects from this game.
5. Sloppy special teams play by the Chargers
When you’re starting a rookie quarterback, teams ideally like to have the other two phases of the game (defense and special teams) cleaned up so the young signal-caller doesn’t have to do too much.
Luckily for the Chargers, QB Justin Herbert seems to relish the challenge of keeping his team in the game, but his teammates on special teams really didn’t do him any favors.
Kicker Mike Badgley missed a field goal and an extra point, which could have secured the game for the Chargers earlier in the contest.
The Jaguars also bull-rushed Chargers punter Ty Long, blocking his punt in the third quarter and returning it for a touchdown.
4. Keenan Allen is a quarterback’s best friend
One of the best route runners in the NFL when healthy, Chargers WR Keenan Allen’s knack for getting separation has given his rookie quarterback a comfort level few players have when entering the league.
The great WR torched the Jaguars for 125 yards on 10 catches. With the exception of the game he left early against the New Orleans Saints, Allen has 10, 19, 11 and 13 targets respectively in each Chargers game where Justin Herbert has been under center. It’s clear that there’s a rapport and camaraderie between the two, as Herbert connected with Allen twice on their final drive, which ended up in a Badgley field goal to put the game out of reach.
3. James Robinson can play in this league
After Jacksonville waived RB Leonard Fournette right before the start of the season, most fans assumed that whomever took over the primary ball-carrying duties in the Jaguars backfield would be a bit player. They weren’t projected to be a very good team, and figured to be throwing a lot while playing from behind.
While that narrative has turned out to be true most weeks, RB James Robinson has shown that he can be effective as a main backfield threat, even when the team doesn’t feature many other difference-making talents.
Robinson averaged a notable 5.4 yards per carry against the Chargers, totaling 119 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He also caught a touchdown as well, as part of his four catches for 18 yards.
The Jaguars' plans for next year remain up in the air, but the Illinois State alumnus has shown that he belongs in the NFL, whether it’s with Jacksonville or another team.
2. Minshew Mania's destiny might be as a backup
For all of Gardner Minshew’s moxie and personality, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the Jaguars QB is not going to be a productive set-it-and-forget-it starting NFL quarterback for too much longer.
After stunning the Colts in Week 1, the Jaguars have proceeded to lose six games in a row. The Jaguars’ roster is as bereft of talent as anyone in the league this side of the New York Jets, and everyone realizes Minshew is playing out the string on a team likely eyeing Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State QB Justin Fields in the draft, but he isn’t consistent enough to be a full-time starter in the NFL.
WR DJ Chark, the Jaguars’ most dangerous offensive player, was only able to haul in one catch out of the seven targets he received against the Chargers, which is not going to get it done. Perhaps next week, the Jaguars coaching staff will find different ways to get Chark going, maybe allowing Minshew to find him on quicker screen passes.
Minshew’s toughness is commendable however, as he lead his team back from a 16-0 deficit in the second quarter to be within 2 points going into halftime.
1. Justin Herbert’s ability as a dual-threat quarterback
Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, most of the praise and focus on the former Oregon quarterback was directed at his prototypical frame and ideal arm talent. Justin Herbert has done nothing to disprove that analysis with the Chargers, but his ability as a runner has been nothing short of tremendous.
The aspect about Herbert’s game that is so impressive at such a young stage is his decisiveness. When he commits, he’s 100 percent behind his read or his throw, which isn’t always common among first-year quarterbacks.
The same observation holds true when he decides to run. Herbert possesses above average physical skills and mobility in the pocket, and against the Jaguars, showcased those wheels to the tune of 9 carries for 61 yards, and a touchdown on the ground.
On the Chargers' final drive of the game, Herbert picked up a critical first down with his legs, rushing for 14 yards on a third and three. His ability to extend plays and pick up yards rushing has been on display since he became the starter, and it will be intriguing to see if this continues when/if starting RB Austin Ekeler returns.Published 26 Oct 2020, 11:37 IST