Mel Tucker’s head coaching debut could not have gone much worse.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had their worse defensive performance of the season, as the team fell to the San Diego Chargers 38-14 on Monday night.
Tucker, who was named the team’s interim head coach after the Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio this week, has done a phenomenal job as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator this season, but it was the defense that struggled in front of a national television audience.
A depleted unit was picked on by the Chargers (5-7) and gave up 433 yards of total offense.
There was some hope early on for Jacksonville (3-9), although it didn’t last long.
Down 10-0 in the second quarter, the Jaguars’ offense showed signs of life for the first time in weeks. Blaine Gabbert dissected San Diego’s defense, going five-of-five for 49 yards on the drive, including nine-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Jones-Drew to cut the lead to 10-7.
The Jaguars followed that up with another touchdown on the next drive. Jones-Drew peeled off 48 yards on nifty shovel pass on third down and four to put the Jaguars in the red zone. Gabbert then threw a nice pass to the back of the end zone and Cecil Shorts did his best Randy Moss impersonation, leaping and snagging the pass over Quentin Jammer to put the Jaguars up 14-10.
Then Jacksonville came back down to earth.
Unable to account for an injury-ravaged secondary, the Jaguars were burned on deep passes twice to end the half. First Phillip Rivers hit Vincent
Brown for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Following a Gabbert interception, Rivers floated a 35-yard pass to Vincent Jackson for a touchdown and San Diego took a 24-14 lead into the locker room.
Jacksonville was without cornerbacks Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and Will Middleton, all of whom are on IR. Safety Dwight Lowery also left the game with a shoulder injury.
Things only got worse. The Chargers kept picking on Jacksonville’s secondary and Gabbert once again became frazzled, going 19-of-33 on the evening.
Maurice Jones-Drew did have another stellar performance, rushing for 97 yards, which put him ahead of LeSean McCoy as the NFL’s leading rusher.