JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Even though Aaron Rodgers played like an MVP, he was hardly satisfied with Green Bay’s offensive performance. Jacksonville probably should be pleased with an oh-so-close effort against a perennial playoff team.
The season opener proved to be something to build on for the Packers and Jaguars.
Rodgers, who sat out most of the preseason, wants the Packers to be more effective early, better in the red zone and cleaner with personnel groupings and play calls. They will get a chance to fine-tune things next week at Minnesota.
No one would blame the Jaguars for celebrating a 27-23 loss to the Packers. After all, they entered the season having lost 36 of their last 50 games and losing the majority of those by double digits.
“I’m not used to losing and I won’t get used to losing — I can promise that,” Jaguars rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey said.
Jacksonville travels cross-country next week to play San Diego. The Jaguars are 2-10 all-time on the West Coast, including 0-3 in San Diego.
They have plenty to fix between now and then, most notably finding a pass rush. General manager Dave Caldwell committed about $200 million in free agency to upgrade his defense. He also used seven of eight drafts picks on that side of the ball in hopes of finding a quick turnaround.
The results didn’t show in the opener. Jacksonville allowed Green Bay to convert 50 percent on third down and managed just one sack — and it came when Rodgers scrambled for no gain.
Rodgers was more concerned with communication issues.
“I don’t think we played very well offensively,” Rodgers said. “We had too many of those where guys were coming off the field and didn’t know what the play was. … That’s disappointing. We have to clean that up. We have to get the play call in, get the right personnel in and execute better.”
Here are some of key takeaways from the opener:
NELSON’S RETURN: The next step in Packers receiver Jordy Nelson’s return should be busting a big play. Nelson played his first meaningful game in 20 months, finishing with six catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. Nelson didn’t show his usual big-play ability, but he found the end zone and probably gained some confidence in his surgically repaired right knee. It was his first TD catch in 630 days, since Dec. 21, 2014, at Tampa Bay.
IVORY HOSPITALIZED: Jaguars running back Chris Ivory could be sidelined another week, a potential problem for a team that averaged 1.8 yards a carry without him. Ivory was hospitalized Sunday with a “general medical issue.” He was taken by ambulance from the team hotel to a local hospital early in the day. He was limited in three practices this week because of a calf injury, but the team said that was not related to his hospital stay.
GAMBLING JAGS: The Jaguars were pedestrian on third down, converting 4 of 15 attempts, but they were much better on fourth down. They converted the first three attempts — all passes from Blake Bortles to Allen Robinson — but came up short on a fourth-and-1 play in the final minute at the Packers 14. “It’s good,” Bortles said. “(Coach Gus Bradley) said early in the week that he wanted to be aggressive and obviously showed that in some of the calls he allowed us to go out and stay on the field. I thought the guys did a good job, obviously other than the last play, of staying on the field.”
NO RESPECT? Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson finished with six catches for 72 yards, but might not be getting the respect of a Pro Bowler. At least two of those, maybe more, could have been flagged for pass interference. Robinson took the high road, saying “I’ve got to adjust my physicality to the game.” Fellow receiver Marqise Lee placed the blame elsewhere. “I don’t know what the refs were looking at,” Lee said.