The Jacksonville Jaguars entered Week 4 with a surprising 2-1 record and chance to make some real noise in the AFC South. Sure, Blake Bortles is still trash, but the defense is legit and Leonard Fournette looks like the real deal early on. There’s just enough here to scrape together a decent season if the pieces fall right. All they had to do was beat the lowly New York Jets, and they would have their first 3-1 start since the 2007 season (which, coincidentally, was the last time they made the playoffs).
Unfortunately, the Jaguars spent most of Sunday afternoon reminding us that they’re still the Jaguars. Bortles was even worse than usual, completing only 15 of 35 passes for 140 yards. The defense made a couple of critical errors that led to big Jets scores, like 75-yard and 69-yard touchdowns from Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire, respectively.
Yet despite all that, the Jaguars managed to come back from a 20-10 deficit and force overtime. After both teams traded punts, Jacksonville got the ball with the chance to win it under sudden death rules, but this is where Doug Marrone committed what I consider the worst coaching move of Week 4.
At fourth-and-3 from the Jets’ 43-yard line, Marrone chose to punt the ball. This already ranks high on the list because it’s one of my biggest pet peeves in football — punting from opponents’ territory. It’s especially egregious when the team had Fournette, a bruising hulk of a runner. Trusting him to punch the ball past the sticks and keep driving for a game-winning score should have been the obvious call.
For a moment, this mistake wasn’t too costly. Punter Brad Nortman pinned the Jets back at their own 9-yard line and the defense was able to force another punt. However, Marqise Lee had a disastrous return that swung the game back in the Jets’ favor.
Things just snowballed from there. The Jags had no shot at doing anything from that field position had to punt it away again. A Paul Posluszny personal foul put the Jets in field goal range, and that was that.
Now granted, there’s a lot more that went wrong than just the one decision to punt. However, it didn’t need to happen that way — had Marrone went for it and got the first down, the Jags would have the chance to get into field goal range themselves and win the game without any of the wacky shenanigans at the end.
In short, punting from there set off a chain reaction that led to another Jags loss, with the Jets inexplicably sitting at 2-2. I maintain my position — never punt on fourth-and-3 from enemy territory. But don’t just take my word for it. Via ESPN Analytics:
When Doug Marrone elected to punt on fourth-and-3 from the Jets' 43-yard line in overtime, he cost the Jaguars 5.7% in win probability. In other words: a major error.
So that was the biggest coaching mistake of Week 4, but it was far from the only one. Let’s take these guys through a walk of shame.
Jets spike the ball instead of kneeling
This is a minor note, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. With both teams out of timeouts and less than a minute left in OT, the Jets could’ve just run the clock down and kick the field goal, giving Jacksonville no time for a drive if they missed. Instead, they spiked the ball at 34 seconds.
The field goal was good and they got the win anyway, but why take that slim chance in the first place?
More fake punts for the fake punt gods
Apparently that’s just going to be a thing this year.
Shout out to Marquette King for drawing an unsportsmanlike penalty after failing to convert.
Speaking of the Raiders, Jack Del Rio made another mistake when he burned his final timeout with 5:32 left in the game. That might have been useful on their final drive when they were down 16-10 with their backup quarterback.
With Carr out for several weeks, the Raiders’ season is suddenly teetering on the brink. They can’t run the ball, the defense isn’t getting any better, and EJ Manuel is a considerable downgrade. If they’re going to be stuck in field position battles, then Del Rio should probably put away the fake punts for now.
Sean McVay wastes his challenges early
The Los Angeles Rams ground out a tough 35-30 road win over the Dallas Cowboys, improving to 3-1 and first place in the NFC West. Sean McVay is the early frontrunner for Coach of the Year, but he’s not without his faults. He burned both of his challenges in the second quarter, one on an Alfred Morris non-fumble where he was clearly down by contact, and the second on a Robert Woods non-catch that would’ve been a touchdown. Neither of them was particularly bad, but with the game close all day it would’ve been useful to have a challenge in your back pocket late.
It’s been eight months since the Super Bowl and the Falcons still aren’t running the dang ball
On Sunday, with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu out injured, Matt Ryan was basically reduced to throwing to his running backs. But the Falcons still had a good shot to beat the Buffalo Bills, down 23-17 with less than a minute left.
The Falcons had third-and-1 from the Bills’ 10, with a great running back in Devonta Freeman. They call a pass play — incomplete. They had fourth-and-1 from the Bills’ 10, with 49 seconds left and plenty of time for another play even if they hand off to Freeman. They call a pass play — incomplete. Game over, Bills pull off the road upset.
Take the bye week and think about what you did, Falcons.