When it rains, it pours. Even when the sun came out Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars still couldn’t catch a break.
Any chance the Jaguars had of being competitive against the Seattle Seahawks vanished in the final minute of the first half. Down 17-0 but having reached the Seahawks’ red zone for the first time in a game that began in a steady rain, the Jaguars let would have been their second touchdown of the season slip through their fingers when wide receiver Cecil Shorts III appeared to lose Chad Henne’s pass in the sun in the end zone.
The Seahawks picked off Henne one play later on a pass that went off the helmet of center Brad Meester and was then deflected by running back Maurice Jones-Drew. It took Russell Wilson only 34 seconds to drive his offense 79 yards for the score that left no doubt that the Jaguars were headed for their first 0-3 start since 2003.
And the schedule doesn’t get appreciably easier over the next five weeks, meaning the Jaguars could be at best staring at a 1-7 record going into their bye week in early November.
Here are five observations from the 45-17 loss:
1. It’s tough enough to be a 19.5-point underdog against a team that went undefeated at home last season and was coming off a prime-time thumping of the San Francisco 49ers.
But the Jaguars’ formidable task was made even harder on the opening series when free safety Dwight Lowery suffered a head injury after being blocked by wide receiver Golden Tate.
Josh Evans replaced him, meaning the Jaguars had three rookies in their secondary. To make matters worse, cornerback Will Blackmon — the only veteran in the group — went out with a head injury of his own in the second half.
Seventh-round pick Demetrius McCray made his first start at cornerback in place of Alan Ball, who was inactive because of a groin injury. Not surprisingly, Wilson went to work on the rookie and was successful more often than not.
In the third quarter, Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice perfectly timed his leap between McCray and Evans to haul in a 23-yard pass that put the Jaguars in a 31-0 hole.
2. After mustering only 12 total yards in the first quarter of their opener two weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jaguars were even more inept at the outset of the game against another team now off to a 3-0 start.
A botched snap between Meester and Henne, caused in part by the deafening noise on the part of the Seahawks’ fans, set the tone for a quarter in which the Jaguars had no first downs and minus-9 total yards.
Jones-Drew was thrown for a loss on all of his first three carries and also dropped a screen pass. An even more damning statistic: On their first eight first-down plays, the Jaguars had a total of seven yards.
3. At least Jones-Drew was able to make a go of it despite a tendon strain in his left ankle from a week ago in the loss at Oakland.
With tight end Marcedes Lewis inactive for a third week in a row and wide receiver Justin Blackmon suspended by the NFL for a third week in a row, the Jaguars continue to strike nothing resembling fear in the hearts of opposing defenses.
Shorts had a career-high 143 yards in receptions, but he wasn’t targeted by Henne for the first time until less than two minutes before halftime.
Jones-Drew scored his first touchdown since Week 3 a year ago at Indianapolis but is averaging less than three yards a carry (44 carries, 115 yards). Former Seahawk Jordan Todman accounted for the other score on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter.
4. Denard Robinson’s rookie indoctrination continues to be a trying one.
A botched handoff out of the wildcat formation between him and fellow first-year player Ace Sanders resulted in a turnover while the Jaguars were still reeling from how the first half ended.
With as little margin for error as the team has, the Jaguars can’t afford mistakes, rookie or otherwise. On the positive side, strong safety and second-round draft pick Johnathan Cyprien forced his second fumble in as many weeks with a strip of Wilson.
5. All right, who figured on middle linebacker Paul Posluszny coming up with the first interception of the season for the Jaguars?
He almost turned a pass that went off Tate’s hands into a touchdown, getting tackled at the Seahawks 2. With Lowery and Blackmon joining Ball and rookie Dwayne Gratz among the ranks of the injured, coach Gus Bradley might have to work miracles to put a quality secondary on the field.
Next up: Indianapolis. It didn’t take the Colts long at all to integrate just-acquired Trent Richardson into an offense headed by Andrew Luck. That’s not what the Jaguars need to hear in their current condition.