Another defensive debacle vs another winless team for Jags
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The Jacksonville Jaguars did this to themselves.
Looking to refresh their defenses, General Manager Dave Caldwell and trainer Doug Marrone decided to split up with four starters in hopes of cleaning up the locker room and wage cap. They threw dynamic pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, five-time Pro Bowl defender Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye and Security Ronnie Harrison.
Those moves, compounded by some opt-outs, left Jacksonville with a young unit that has more than a dozen players on the depth map in its first or sophomore year.
And when a few injuries happen - the Jaguars played without pass rusher Josh Allen, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback CJ Henderson in a 30-14 loss at AFC South rivals Houston on Sunday - the inexperience really shows.
"We can't really hide the fact that this was a big deal," Abry Jones said. “It was division one. ... I don't want to burden anyone, go out and scream and point with my fingers and things like that, because I know how difficult this game is and how hard our boys try. "
The Jaguars (1-4) were hollowed out for the fifth game in a row, yet another defensive debacle that revealed the depth of the team and had to worry Caldwell, Marrone and defensive coordinator Todd Wash on the flight home about their job security.
Could Jacksonville be next when Houston and Atlanta are already cleaning the house? No one would be surprised after the team's last disappointing start, which included consecutive losses to three previously winless teams.
The Jaguars have allowed 30 or more points in four games in a row for the third time in franchise history. They did it in 2013 and 2014 as well, Caldwell's first two years and the start of a major rebuilding project.
He insisted this time it wasn't and believed this team would surprise outsiders. Marrone even suggested that this group could be special.
Instead, the Jaguars are a lot more like what the odds makers envisioned when they installed them as the longest long shots to win the Super Bowl.
Jacksonville will attempt to end their four-game skid against Detroit (1-3) on Sunday.
"I think you get to a point where you basically pull, you know, I pull for these guys," Marrone said. "I want these three phases to come together. We're working on it and talking about it. But we can't play that in and out at the moment. ...
"And it's not that we don't have a chance. There are opportunities out there. We just couldn't take advantage of it."
Safety Jarrod Wilson and cornerback Sidney Jones each had interceptions, giving Jacksonville its first two-turn game since the start. These helped the defense hold Houston in check for three quarters for the most part.
WHAT NEEDS HELP?
Jon Brown will be Jacksonville's fifth placekicker in as many weeks. The team cut Stephen Hauschka on Monday after missing two field goals against Houston and knocking Brown off the training team.
Brown has spent time with Cincinnati and San Francisco.
Josh Lambo (hip) remains in the injured reserve and Marrone says he couldn't return to the Los Angeles Chargers until next week at the earliest. Since Lambo's injury in week 2, the Jaguars have left with rookie Brandon Wright (week 3), Aldrick Rosas (week 4) and then Hauschka. Wright and Rosas also missed kicks.
Rookie receiver Laviska Shenault, a Colorado second-round draft pick, has made 12 catches for 165 yards in the last two games. Against DJ Chark, who left the loss on Sunday with a sprained ankle, he is quickly becoming a reliable threat.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had another scratchy call on a key down. Gruden was 13-7 behind at the end of the third quarter, attempting a halfback option with rookie James Robinson in fourth and first place in Houston 8. Robinson had nowhere to run and fumbled as he tried to throw.
It was the clearest sign that the Jaguars did not fully trust quarterback Gardner Minshew.
The Jaguars hope to get Allen, Jack and Henderson back against the Lions. Chark was re-rated along with Tyler Eifert (Hals) on Monday. The team put backup security Andrew Wingard (abdominal load) on injured reserve.
127 - Number of points Jacksonville allowed in five games, the fourth highest in the AFC.
Find a way to end the 10th loss of at least four games since owner Shad Khan bought the team in 2012.
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