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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Jaguars Deal With Last Seconds Loss to Titans

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said he wanted the loss to Tennessee to hurt a little bit so the team could learn from it. The Jaguars, a team that has lost six straight games this season and have lost eight in a row over the course of two seasons, failed to capture an opportunity to earn their first win of the season on a missed field goal in the closing seconds of a 16-14 loss to the Titans.

Jacksonville’s defense appears to be headed in the right direction and the play of rookie quarter Blake Bortles dazzled with his first 300-yard passing game of the season.

Questions about the running game and offensive line remain, however the steps are more toward the good, than towards the bad when three weeks ago, this was a team that was beaten by 31 points on the road.

Here is what we learned from the loss at Tennessee on Sunday, according to senior writer, John Oesher.

1. Close hurts. The Jaguars’ post-game locker room was a quiet, disconsolate place Sunday. This is a team that feels like its close and it is indeed getting closer. The Jaguars have been competitive for a half in one of Blake Bortles’ starts and were competitive for the entire game in his other two starts. That’s better than before. But this is also fast becoming a team that knows close isn’t enough. On Sunday, it was again a team that came close and this time, close really hurt.

2. Blake Bortles is developing … It appears we’re going to keep learning this the rest of the year, and that’s a good thing for the Jaguars. Bortles led a productive opening drive Sunday and stayed poised late. He threw for 336 yards despite being sacked six times. He continues to look the part and is remarkably in control and comfortable for a player making his third NFL starts. Those are good things.

3. … and he’s not yet perfect. It was difficult to tell at first look what happened on Bortles’ lone interception Sunday, a third-quarter pass to wide receiver Allen Hurns. The rookie receiver either slipped or tripped on the play, but cornerback Blidi Wreh Wilson also appeared to have a read on the pass and made a pretty easy interception. That play tilted the game’s momentum, with the Titans turning the opportunity into a field goal and a 16-7 lead.

4. But the arrow is way, way up on the quarterback. We can analyze the interception all we want – and some absolutely want. But Bortles completed 32 of 46 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He looked in control in the pocket and was poised at the end of the game with the Jaguars trying to rally. Those are all very, very good signs.

5. Stats aren’t everything. The Jaguars had 27 first downs to 14 for the Titans and they outgained Tennessee 379-290, but they never led in the second half and needed an unlikely onside kick recovery to have a chance at a miracle at the end. A good sign for the Jaguars to dominate statistically; a better sign would be eliminating the mistakes that prevented them from taking advantage of the statistics.

6. The offensive line’s work in progress … remains in progress. The line allowed 10 sacks against Washington in Week 2. This game wasn’t that, but the line allowed six sacks and there were spurts in the middle of the game – particularly the second quarter – where the pressure put the Jaguars in too many difficult down-and-distance situations. The pass blocking took a step forward the last couple of weeks. This was not a step forward.

7. The work in progress isn’t just pass protection. The Jaguars wanted to establish the run Sunday. Early on, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch called plays to do so, but by game’s end the Jaguars had 82 yards on 23 carries with Bortles rushing for 38 yards on five carries. That’s not enough production from the backs, and too often Sunday, the holes just weren’t there.

8. It wasn’t all Gerhart’s fault after all. Jaguar’s running back Toby Gerhart had taken a lot of heat the last two weeks. Well, Storm Johnson started for an injury Gerhart on Sunday and rushed for 21 yards on 10 carries. In the NFL, the running game usually is line-centric and the Jaguars’ line is still searching for the experience and continuity needed for consistency.


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