LONDON – Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ 42-10loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium in London, England Sunday . . .
1. The Jaguars weren’t good Sunday (again) . . . Yes, this is a repeat from last week, because in some ways, the game waspretty close to a repeat of last week. The Jaguars fell behind early and lost to San Diego in convincing fashion a week ago, and did so again to the 49ers on Sunday. Too many of the same issues bit Sunday. Far too many. The bye week often is a good time for taking a breath and studying what came before. It’s definitely time for that.
2. The 49ers are good. This may have been the Jaguars’toughest matchup of the first half of the season. The 49ers are dominant offensively, with the ability to control the ball and avoid turnovers. Defensively, they’re better than, say, Denver, a game in which the Jaguars’ offense scored enough to keep the final outcome close. This looked like an overwhelmingly tough task going in. Looks didn’t deceive.
3. This team needs a break. Whatever the reason, the Jaguarsstruggled the last two weeks, losing 24-6 to San Diego and 42-10 to the 49ers. After two weeks showing signs of life at St. Louis and Denver, the Jaguars have slipped heading into the bye. They need a break, and they’ll get it.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew is looking better.
5. The Jaguars are popular in London . . . You couldn’t be in London and not realize that the Jaguars have a following. It may not yet be as big as that of the 49ers, but it’s significant and the Jaguars fans here are passionate.
6. . . . That popularity is real. Although the Jaguars struggledthroughout most of Sunday, there were moments when the team gained a sliver of momentum. Late in the first half when JoshScobee converted a field goal for the Jaguars’ first points. Early in the third quarter when a long drive was followed by another drive that resulted in a touchdown. When these moments happened, they were greeted by legitimate enthusiasm and cheering. The crowd Sunday wanted to get behind the Jaguars and on the occasions when the Jaguars gave them a legitimate reason to get excited, they did.
7. Chad Henne struggles, too. Henne moved into the starting lineup at quarterback last week ahead of a healthy BlaineGabbert, with Head Coach Gus Bradley saying the team wanted to see where Henne took the Jaguars. That time made it sound as if the move to start Henne was relatively permanent – as permanent as any move is in this uncertain situation. But Henne struggled at times Sunday along with the entire team, and the quarterback situation remains an issue. It seems doubtful Bradley goes away from Henne so quickly. Still, the bye week is a time for reevaluation, and it’s likely everything gets reevaluated in the coming week.
8. The run defense remains an issue . . . The Jaguars have struggled in recent weeks to stop the run, and while this area wasn’t the only problem Sunday, it sure didn’t help. Running back Frank Gore set a tone early and Colin Kaepernick was fast enough and athletic enough and effective enough when he ran that Jaguars never could get the 49ers under control in the first half. The Jaguars allowed 221 yards rushing, and when teams run that effectively, it’s hard to get in situations to rush the passer and force turnovers.
9. . . . Third downs do, too. The Jaguars continue to struggle to get defenses off the field in crucial third-down situations, and that is leading to a feeling watching this team that the defense can’t get off the field. That feeling is a real feeling, because the defense *can’t get off the field.* At least not in critical situations. At least not with the game still in any sort of doubt.
10. Playmakers are needed. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was asked about the defense after Sunday’s game. He talked a bit about needing playmakers, and about how the defense right now wasn’t making nearly enough of said plays. That’s true in a lot of areas, but it’s vivid on defense.
11. There’s a long way to go. This sums up a lot about everything. The break is needed, but with eight games remaining, focus must remain on improving by season’s end. If there has been improvement the last two weeks, it hasn’t been nearly enough. How the Jaguars come out of the bye will be important if this team is to progress as much as Bradley hopes it will this season.
12. It’s time to go home. London week was memorable, a tone was set for the next three seasons. With the exception of the game, it was very much a success. But now it’s over. The bye week is at hand. We’re coming home.