By Russell S. Baxter
By all indications, the Jacksonville Jaguars looked like a football team ready to build on last season’s near Super Bowl appearance. Earlier this year, the club got off to a 3-1 start. That included a convincing 31-20 win over the New England Patriots in Week 2 at Jacksonville.
But it’s been all downhill ever since. Doug Marrone’s club looks nothing like the team that owned a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter of last season’s AFC Championship Game.
So as the Jaguars prepare for this Sunday’s clash with the visiting Indianapolis Colts, consider the falloff from a year ago as the club takes an seven-game losing streak into Sunday’s clash with Andrew Luck and company.
What’s gone wrong?
On Monday, the team made some big changes and got some bad news. The Jaguars fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The club had scored only 197 points this season in 11 games. Meanwhile, mistake-prone quarterback Blake Bortles was demoted and Cody Kessler will get the start against the Colts. The former connected on 60.4 percent of his passes this season but had more turnovers (14) than touchdown passes (13). Marrone’s squad has scored a combined 82 points in three wins this season compared to only 115 points in their eight losses.
To make matters worse, Kessler and the offense won’t have running back Leonard Fournette for Sunday’s game. He was handed a one-game suspension for his part in an altercation with Bill’s defensive end Shaq Lawson on Sunday.
Defensively, a team that totaled 55 sacks and 33 takeaways a year ago has forced only 11 turnovers and amassed just 21 QB traps in 11 outings this season.
On Sunday, the Jaguars will take on a Colts’ team that is riding a five-game winning streak. Luck has thrown at least three touchdown passes in eight consecutive weeks and Indianapolis defeated Jacksonville, 29-26, back in Week 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Can Marrone’s team finally end its current skid?
Russell S. Baxter is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com and a member of the NFL media for 35 years and counting. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.