JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)Josh Allen’s streak of games without a sack is nearing the longest drought of his NFL career.
Once Jacksonville’s top pass rusher and a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft is looking more and more ordinary in 2022. He’s gone six consecutive games without a sack – one shy of his longest skid – and has managed a meager four quarterback hits during that span.
He played a season-low 39 snaps in Sunday’s 27-17 loss at Kansas City, with the Jaguars (3-7) hoping less would lead to more. It ended up being more of the same, with Allen once again failing to get to a quarterback (Patrick Mahomes) who had been sacked 14 times in his previous five games.
Allen has three sacks as Jacksonville heads into its bye week. He was hardly the only problem for a team that managed to lose despite three takeaways – the Jaguars were plus-3 in turnover margin – and recovering an onside kick to start the game.
Riley Patterson missed two field goals. Rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd was benched for the second consecutive week. The Jags had a touchdown called back because of a silly penalty. And they struggled to slow down Kansas City’s ground attack and allowed receivers and tight ends to run unchecked through their secondary.
”The team needs a break at this time,” coach Doug Pederson said. ”It is a good time to kind of step away. I told them to kind of regroup and really think about the first 10 (games). But more importantly I want them to think of the next third of this season and really focus on that.
”I believe that our goals are still in front of us. We made it a little bit harder, but I think if we continue to improve, anything is possible moving forward.”
If Jacksonville’s pass rush doesn’t improve, little will change.
The Jaguars rank 27th in the league with 16 sacks. And considering what Jacksonville spent to upgrade its front – signing Foley Fatukasi, Foye Oluokun, Arden Key and Dawuane Smoot in free agency and drafting Travon Walker (No. 1 overall), Lloyd (No. 27) and fellow linebacker Chad Muma (No. 70) – the results have been disappointing.
Allen’s woes have been the biggest head-scratcher. He had nine quarterback hits, including three sacks, in the first four games. But he’s been nearly nonexistent since and has looked downright uncomfortable in coverage. And he’s not getting much help.
”Not frustration. We’re getting there; we’re close,” Smoot said. ”We’ve just got to rush together as a unit at the end of the day. Whenever someone has a good rush, we’ve got to have the other guy be able to cover that, so (the QB) doesn’t get out of the pocket.”
Special teams have provided a spark the past two weeks. Not only did Jacksonville execute a successful onside kick to start the game at Kansas City, but Jamal Agnew provided a 39-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that set up Jacksonville’s first touchdown. It came a week after Agnew’s 52-yarder jumpstarted a come-from-behind victory against Las Vegas.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Jaguars have to start faster. A week after trailing the Raiders 17-0, they were down 20-0 at the Chiefs. Defensive lapses and third down failures were common in both deficits.
Christian Kirk finished with a season-high nine receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 52 catches for 679 yards and seven scores in the first of a four-year, $72 million deal. He’s on pace to become the fifth 1,000-yard receiver in team history and first since Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in 2015.
JaMycal Hasty missed a block and dropped a screen pass on consecutive plays in the second quarter, the latest woes for the backup running back. He carried once for 4 yards in the game, which was progress considering his previous 10 carries gained 21 yards.
The Jaguars could use their bye to get rookie fifth-round pick Snoop Conner ready for an increased workload.
The Jaguars, who have remained relatively healthy all season, will use their bye week to recover from several nagging minor injuries.
2 – number of starters Jacksonville has on injured reserve. The short list includes CB Shaquill Griffin (back) and LG Ben Bartch (knee).
Make enough changes in the bye week to improve the team’s pass rush.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL