Jaguars Fall Again: Three Things We Learned in Loss to Texans
The usual format for this piece is to talk about the three things that we all learned from the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and whatever team they play. It is usual mixture of finding the good in a loss that the team suffers as we listen locally to how the team is playing “hard” or “fights to the end” or “shows progress.”
The season for this team is over. The 2014 year has been put to rest and book is closed on what was supposed to be a franchise that took the next step in its learning curve. Instead of talking about playoffs and winning records and potential “Coach of the Year” campaign for Gus Bradley, this is now a situation where winning next season is the only way to maintain an attitude of success. As one of my friends explained on a local sports talk radio show – the excuse of youth is no longer an excuse in the third season of a rebuilding process.
Yes, jobs, staff positions and even the front office may be on the line as the team heads to minicamp and OTA’s in five months.
According to the Associated Press, J.J. Watt strengthened his case for MVP and helped the Houston Texans finish off a winning, if not a playoff, season.
Watt had three sacks, a safety and forced a fumble Sunday, and Andre Johnson had a season-high 134 yards receiving and a touchdown to lead the Texans to a 23-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The Texans (9-7) had a shot at making the playoffs, but Baltimore beat Cleveland 20-10 to claim the final AFC wild-card spot. Houston made a seven-game improvement over last season's 2-14 record under first-year coach Bill O'Brien.
Johnson gave Houston a 21-17 lead with an 8-yard reception early in the fourth. Watt made it 23-17 when he sacked Blake Bortles in the end zone for a safety a few minutes later. The sack gave him 20 1/2 this season, making him the first player in NFL history to have two seasons with 20 or more sacks after he also had 20 1/2 when he won Defensive Player of the Year 2012.
The Jaguars (3-13) had a chance to take the lead late, but Cecil Shorts III was out of bounds on a catch on fourth down.
Instead of talking just about this game, here are a few things we learned from this season for the Jaguars.
BLAKE BORTLES WAS THE RIGHT DRAFT PICK
Whether it looks like he is progressing slower than Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr, Blake Bortles is the best fit for the Jaguars. His numbers are not gaudy, but he is best in a 2-minute offense and looks to make something positive out of every play. With his size, he is more than mobile and can move the chains with his legs as well as his arm.
The lack of a running game and injuries all over the place to the wideouts have been an issue this season. And while I hate using it as an excuse, youth is this team’s enemy this season, but will be best served next season and the year after next.
BIG DECISIONS LOOMING
When the season is reviewed, team general manager Dave Caldwell will have to sit down with coach Gus Bradley and make the decisions everyone is waiting for.
What happens to linebacker Paul Posluszny? Can the team afford to keep Marcedes Lewis? Was Toby Gerhart worth the contract in the offseason? How soon will the team release Cecil Shorts?
There are definite needs in the offseason. Also taken into consideration will be whether offensive coordinator Jed Fisch will remain with the team.
The tackle spots are key to the success of this offense and the free agency period will hopefully bring depth and possibly one starter. The team also needs consistency at running back. Can Denard Robinson be an every-down back? Does Ameer Abdullah or Todd Gurley make sense in the second round of the Draft?
HOW MANY WINS FOR THIS TEAM NEXT SEASON?
There is a belief in this city, after listening to local sports writers, columnists and radio hosts that eight wins or more are needed. Seven wins is four more than this season and could keep Bradley’s job if the team is more competitive next season.
The defense is good and plays tough, but it is not the juggernaut the fans around here think it is. There are still issue with the middle of the unit and in the secondary. This team needs a safety in free agency or the Draft and could use a dominant pass rusher to make opponents game plan for. This is a franchise that passed on JJ Watt to take Blaine Gabbert. That is all you need to know.
I think seven or eight wins with progression and the possibility of still being in the playoff hunt at the beginning of December keeps Bradley here in town. If not, then the management and the owner, Shad Khan, have plenty of work to do for 2016.