Walking to Wembley Stadium to attend the Jaguars/Niners game was much like walking to a Super Bowl venue.
“Next to the Super Bowl, this is the biggest production we have,” one NFL insider told me.
From the badging around the stadium featuring the Jacksonville skyline and Jaguars players to the pregame show by recording star Ne-Yo, this game felt like something special.
“What a great atmosphere,” Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey told me in the locker room after the game. “This was really fantastic. Lots of Jags fans. It hurts me when we disappoint them like that.”
And that seemed to be the prevailing thought among the players after falling to muster much competition for the 49ers in a 42-10 loss.
“We’re just not making those plays,” Head Coach Gus Bradley said when I asked him if some opportunities were there early in the game.
“We’re missing some things. I don’t think it’s because the players are tight, we want them to play freely. But they need to get to their technique and execute and right now we’re not doing that.”
Consistently the Jaguars make enough mistakes to beat themselves in 2013, thus leading to the most one-sided scores not only in franchise but also in league history.
“We missed a lot of opportunities today,” Maurice Jones Drew said when I inquired about another slow start.
“That’s kind of been our MO throughout the season. It just seems like we have chance to do things. It is on all 11 of us.”
Too often the Jaguars will play well for a few plays but then give up a big gain or drop a crucial third down throw.
Paul Posluszny said the Jaguars got to the situations they wanted, but couldn’t continue to execute when it counted. “We felt like if we could get them to third and a favorable (yardage) for us, we would have the highest success rate. “Kaepernick scrambled for some first downs where normally we would get off the field in those situations.”
Posluszny brought it down to its essence when I pointed out some busted coverages and guys not making a play.
“That’s what it comes down to. At the end of the day, technique and fundamentals. This league is about playmakers. You have to have a guy or a group of guys that are able to make a big play when you need it the most. We are struggling with that right now.
Jones Drew agreed. “”We have to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. It takes time to do that, but we’re working toward that. Mike Brewster and Mike Brown stepped up. We have to continue to build off that.”
Bradley’s thankful for little things like that right now.
“Mike Brown made that catch. We have to like that, things like that. He was open, he saw him, he caught it and, touchdown.”
This has been such a different year to cover the Jaguars. When a team doesn’t get the job done because of poor execution or no passion, it’s easy to be hard on the players or the coaching staff or both. But this team is just overmatched and out-manned. You can see it at the snap of the ball when the line of scrimmage moves in the Jaguars direction and not the other way. You can see it when the opposing QB drops back and is able to survey the field without rushing. And you can see it when no matter who is at quarterback for the Jaguars, their time to throw is very limited.
When asked earlier in the week at a fan forum in London about what the difference between the early expansion teams he played on and what’s happening now with the Jaguars, Tony Boselli said, “It’s about good players. We had a lot of good players on those teams. Now we’re trying to get back to that.”
The game against the 49ers spotlighted the difference between the two. San Francisco was in the Super Bowl last year and looked like a team that can go back. The Jaguars looked like a team trying to figure out who can play and who can’t .
Niner’s All Pro Linebacker Patrick Willis remembers when the Niners were a struggling team, much like the Jaguars.
“We know what that’s like. You have to build on that,” he said after shutting down the Jaguars offense most of the night.
“We like where we are, we don’t want to go back. “
Hopefully we’ll hear that from a Jaguars player after a game at Wembley Stadium sometime in the not-too-distant future.