Jaguars rookies continue struggles despite team success in Week 11 victory over the Tennessee Titans
And they’re back!! (sort of)
Last Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars pulled out an exciting 34-14 win over the Tennessee Titans, and the score was even closer than the game appeared to be. Trevor Lawrence reasserted his high-level talent, scoring 4 touchdowns on the day. The Jags defense bounced back in a similarly sizable fashion, shutting out the Titans offense in the first half and holding Derrick Henry to only 44 total yards for the game.
So why only “sort of”? Well, this column covers rookie performances, which were remarkably subpar despite the massive team win. Let’s take a closer look.
Anton Harrison: Unfortunately, the dip in the Anton Harrison rookie rollercoaster continues. Harrison had another tougher game against the Titans DL, allowing 3 pressures on the day and getting beat on five other pass-rush reps. On a 3rd and 1 rush in the red zone, he was embarrassed by Titans DL Jeffery Simmons, who stuffed Etienne for a loss and held the Jags to a field goal. Overall, the takeaway was the same: Harrison struggles against top-end talent. While there is something to be said for development through experience (i.e. starting reps), fans can’t help but wonder if a Cleveland/Little combo would be better than the current Little/Harrison combo. I’m not saying I’m on that wagon, but it’s a reasonable question for fans to ask, and it seems to be a popular sentiment on Twitter. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Brenton Strange: The story with Strange was much of the same on Sunday. Strange was absent on the stat sheet despite 27 snaps, while fellow TEs Evan Engram (4 receptions, 29 yards on 45 snaps) and Luke Farrell (2 receptions, 21 yards on 28 snaps) each had some nice plays in the passing game. On the flip side, he continued to throw nice blocks in both the passing and run game. Strange has continued to develop as a blocker, but it would certainly be nice to see some of that YAC that was touted when the Jags drafted him in the second round.
Tank Bigsby: Seriously, how many ways can this guy find to gaffe? On the Titans’ second offensive drive, the Jags stopped the Titans on 3rd down, leading to a punt on 4th and 6. But fear not, your friend neighborhood Bigsby was there to commit a penalty on special teams to give the Titans 4th and 1. They converted on the next play and drove into Jaguars territory. Fortunately, the Jags defense was able to hold off the Titans from getting any points, but such errors are costly against better teams.
On the bright side, Tank Bigsby touched the ball, and it didn’t result in a turnover! After the Jags pulled away in the 4th quarter, Bigsby was given an opportunity for redemption, which he turned into 9 carries for 21 yards. While that’s a poor yards-per-attempt, he did make a nice 4th down conversion. Progress!
Still, all things considered, the gap between Etienne/Johnson and Bigsby only seems to be widening, and as the Jags enter a tricky few games ahead, Bigsby will be hard-pressed to see the field.
Tyler Lacy: Lacy is actually started to show small flashes, with 2 tackles on 9 snaps last Sunday. While he didn’t make any head-turning tackles in the backfield or QB pressures, he was able to make somewhat of an impact despite limited snaps. Good for him.
Antonio Johnson had 1 tackle. Elijah Cooks was a healthy scratch. Parker Washington was a non-factor. Yasir Abdullah and Christian Braswell remained out with injuries.
Ok, I know I’m just beating the same drum, but here’s the deal: the Jaguars rookie class has been underwhelming so far. I know it, you know it, everyone who watches Jaguars football knows it. This week was a particularly frustrating performance since none of the rookies seemed to improve much after an abysmal Week 10 performance. In fact, most guys appeared to hinder rather than elevate the team.
But at this point, isn’t that the expectation? The Jaguars’ current regime hasn’t shown the highest drafting acumen, and most rookies take time to develop (not the best ones, of course, which the Jags have yet to recently acquire). So take these analyses with a grain of salt. There is still time.
And remember, Jags are sitting pretty at 7-3, which should make for an exciting December of football ahead. Not too shabby.
Jags fans, any thoughts on our rookie class?
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Title: Jaguars rookie rundown: Week 11 review