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Sexton-Oehser: Back and forth

Posted Oct 3, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars’ loss to the New York Jets and forward to this week’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars’ loss to the New York Jets and forward to this week’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Oehser …

1. Reviewing the preview. When previewing Jaguars-Jets, the thought here was the Jaguars needed to get running back Leonard Fournette going, pressure Jets quarterback Josh McCown and get an early lead. Such was the weirdness of Sunday that the Jaguars accomplished all three – and lost. Fournette  produced 145 of the Jaguars’ 311 yards of offense. The Jaguars sacked McCown five times, and they took an early 7-0 lead. But touchdown runs of 75 and 69 yards kept the Jets in the game, and they took a 20-10 lead off the Jaguars’ lone giveaway of the game. The weirdness of the fourth quarter and overtime was such that the Jaguars not only rallied from a 10-point deficit, they had two very real opportunities to win – and lost because of a 70-yard overtime punt that changed the game’s dynamics. Just. Plain. Weird.

2. As I saw it. The loss was a gut-punch because the Jaguars missed a chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South. Still, this game was indicative of how this season could play out. The Jaguars aren’t yet consistent offensively – and they expected entering the season to have to scrape, scratch and claw to victories. They scraped and clawed Sunday, just not enough to win. The guess here is there will be a lot more games like Sunday’s – games the defense must win in the fourth quarter. Strap in: this could get bumpy. Interesting? Yes, but definitely bumpy.

3. Looking ahead, briefly. Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh is mammoth not only in task, but in opportunity. The Steelers (3-1), despite struggling at times in the season’s first month, are confident after a one-sided victory over Baltimore Sunday. The Jaguars’ task Sunday is difficult – a road game against an AFC favorite, against the NFL’s No. 2-ranked defense, against a team with big-time playmakers at quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger), running back (Le’Veon Bell) and wide receiver (Antonio Brown). But the Jaguars have enough strengths that they go into any game with a chance. If they can get a lead, a Jaguars defense that ranks first in the NFL in sacks and third in takeaways can pressure the Steelers’ included. Can the Jaguars’ struggling offense give them the lead? Can Jaguars’ defense stop Bell and a potent running game? Those concerns are legitimate.

Sexton …

1. Reviewing the preview. The Jaguars needed Bortles in New York to have the kind of game he played against Baltimore. He did not. He wasn’t precise or accurate and he turned the ball over, which he didn’t do against the Ravens. Couple that with a strong Jets front seven and the potential for problems became a reality. I missed the mark with the Jaguars’ defense, which couldn’t stop the run because guys jumped into the wrong gaps to create huge holes for Jets running backs. They nearly pulled off the come-from-behind victory thanks to big plays from Myles Jack and A.J. Bouye, but the offense countered with penalties and dropped passes with game-clinching opportunities staring them in the face.

2. As I saw it. This is the kind of game that can beat you twice if you let it. The postgame locker room was somber; it was similarly quiet Monday and the entire building seemed as if it was moving in slow motion. The Jaguars know they can’t afford to beat themselves with holding penalties negating touchdown passes and dropped passes negating game-winning scoring opportunities. Head Coach Doug Marrone wasted little time in the postgame press conference; he immediately talked about moving on to the Steelers and finishing the first quarter of the season – and now looking to the next quarter. I know no one is talking about the Jaguars being tired from back-to-back road games in London and New York, but it’s tough to be on the road for almost a month; losing in overtime to a team you should beat makes it even more difficult. This team must dig deep to go on the road again this week; the Steelers are one of the AFC favorites this season. Marrone and his staff are going to have to have an emotional and mental game plan for the week in addition to the actual plan for the Steelers.

3. Looking ahead, briefly. I didn’t think the Jets with their limited offensive firepower would be able to find any effectiveness or efficiency against the Jaguars. The Steelers have three of the game’s biggest stars – quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell – and they absolutely will threaten the Jags defense. However, the Jaguars are very talented defensively – and have hinted at the kind of dominance the very best Steelers defenses have had through the years. The question is whether Bortles can be the ‘good’ Blake this week or if he is going to be the ‘bad’ Blake he was last week It wasn’t all on Bortles, but the Steelers are a very talented defense that plays the run tightly, so they’re going to take the run game away at all costs and challenge Bortles to win the game. He can do it. Will he? Stay tuned.

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