Jacksonville’s second trip to the West Coast resembled the first.
The Jaguars (6-5) fumbled twice, missed two field goals and allowed six sacks in a 20-3 loss at San Francisco on Sunday. They were equally inept at Seattle in October, when David Garrard was sacked five times and fumbled twice in a 41-0 debacle that was the most lopsided loss in coach Jack Del Rio’s seven seasons.
Del Rio and his players insisted Monday that the cross-country flight, the three-hour time difference and the altered routine had nothing to do with the team’s performance.
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“If we did that at home, it would be the same outcome,” fullback Greg Jones said. “The West Coast didn’t have anything to do with it.”
The Jaguars fell to 2-4 on the road this season, with the four losses coming by a combined score of 105-28. They remained in the AFC playoff picture, partly thanks to Baltimore’s overtime win against Pittsburgh, but they have little room for error with games remaining against conference front-runners Indianapolis and New England.
It could help that Jacksonville’s next three games – against Houston, Miami and Indianapolis – are at home, about 2,500 miles from the West Coast.
“I don’t really think it matters if we go west,” defensive lineman Atiyyah Ellison said. “We just didn’t execute. I don’t think that’s a direct correlation to traveling out there. We’ve got to find a way to focus and execute when we travel those long distances.
“Everybody plays better at home. You’re just more comfortable. You’re not in a strange locker room. You stay right close to the facility the night before and all that. We just have to play better.”
Although Garrard threw for 307 yards, the offense was pretty much one-dimensional all day. Maurice Jones-Drew carried 15 times for 75 yards, and when Garrard got in obvious passing situations, the 49ers shredded Jacksonville’s offensive line.
The Jaguars were 3 of 12 on third-down conversions and 1 of 3 on fourth down. Maybe even more troubling, they managed just three points in four trips inside the red zone. Josh Scobee missed two field goals, including a 21-yarder, and Garrard ended consecutive long drives in the second half with fumbles.
“We’ve got to do better execution in critical situations,” guard Uche Nwaneri said. “That’s the bottom line. … Everybody’s out there playing hard. David’s out there trying to make plays and you can never get mad at somebody trying to make plays.”
Jacksonville was more solid on defense, holding Frank Gore to 33 yards rushing on 16 carries. But the Jaguars got little pressure on Alex Smith, allowing him to throw for 232 yards and two touchdowns against a secondary playing without cornerback Rashean Mathis for the third time this season.
“It’s a thing that you want to match the other defense’s intensity,” Ellison said. “If they’re getting sacks, you want to get sacks as well or takeaways or interceptions or cause fumbles. You want to match or do better than the other defense. We just have to play better than the other team’s defense.”
That didn’t happen in San Francisco. Not in Seattle, either.
But the Jaguars refuse to blame it on travel.
“We all work real hard to put our teams in good situations,” Del Rio said. “How we travel, bus, what time, coaches work hard at that stuff. There’s no secret formula. We just did not execute well in the two games out there.”