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A view from the Ozone: Heading home at last


LONDON, England – And now, they head home.

So now, the Jaguars get a rest.

The Jaguars could use it right now, too, after a second, well, "difficult" outing in as many years at Wembley Stadium.

Dez Bryant was Dez Bryant in the first half, which allowed the Dallas Cowboys to separate by halftime. After that, the Cowboys' 31-17 victory in front was all but decided, with the Jaguars heading to Gatwick Airport immediately afterward for an all-night flight home.

The immediately-afterward part will by make this post-game editorial a bit rushed – there being no Wi-Fi and little connection to the outside world on international flights. It also will mean post-game coverage a perhaps a bit briefer than normal on Sunday night.

So, briefly, here are some thoughts on the gray, cool London afternoon that turned dark and chilly in a hurry …

One thought is this will be a tough game for the Jaguars to accept. They had been improving and more competitive in recent weeks, and after an inspired first quarter they were neither on Sunday.

An obvious thought is Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley was decidedly less than pleased. He said he told the team as much at halftime, and told the team he was angry at that point.

"If we feel like they're not being as good as we can be, it's my job to keep them connect to that," he said.

Players said they understood Bradley's frustration and felt it, too.

"We played a way a college team would be playing," safety Johnathan Cyprien said, adding that he and other players know they are better than how they played Sunday.

Bradley, too, said players undoubtedly believe they were better than they showed Sunday.

"I would believe so," he said. "That's the frustration."

Another thought as the Jaguars head home from London is it's good the NFL schedules byes for teams following this game. London is memorable. London is a highlight to any team's NFL season. London is cool and international and all of those things, but it's also more than a little wearing to all involved. …

Another thought is I'm glad I don't have Jaxson de Ville's job, because while it'd be cool to wear a suit and make people smile it wouldn't be cool to leap from the top of Wembley back-to-back years. He may be a Cool Cat, but he's also a crazy one with far more courage and far less common sense than myself. (Kidding and post-game down-in-the-dumps thoughts aside, did you see it? Did you? Unreal …)

But the primary thought is that as the Jaguars head home from London they could really use a stretch after the bye week like they had last year. Remember? Last year? The Jaguars came off the bye with no one – outside the coaching staff, front office and the locker room – thinking they had a chance to compete, much less win games – much, much less reel off a stretch worth feeling better about.

Yet, that's just what they did, returning from London after the bye and winning four of five games.  They played the best football of the season, playing solid defense and opportunistic offense and gutting their way to a stretch that was impressive and a lot of fun.

Can this year's Jaguars put together that kind stretch?

Who knows? On Sunday, they didn't play like it. Not after the first quarter, anyway.

For the first quarter, when running back Denard Robinson scored on a 32-yard run and when Blake Bortles completed a few first-down converting passes to an improving Allen Robinson, this week's version of the Jaguars looked like most of the versions since Bortles entered the starting lineup in Week 3. They were playing hard, and had a chance.

They had some momentum, too – that is, until a key turnover.

That came when Ace Sanders muffed a punt that Dallas safety C.J. Spillman recovered. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw a two-yard touchdown to tight end Jason Witten three plays later and after wide receiver Dez White twice out-athleted the Jaguars' secondary in the second quarter, the Cowboys led 24-7.

That essentially ended it, and sent the Jaguars into the bye on a decidedly sourer note than they had been playing the last two months.  Those months hadn't been great, but they had been competitive. The Jaguars had been OK whereas early last season they weren't OK. The Jaguars for the last two months had looked like they were improving.

So, where does that leave the Jaguars with six games remaining?

Well, it leaves them needing to figure out a way to play better at Wembley. If this team is going to play a home game here each year – and it appears they will – that's a necessity.

But mostly it leaves them needing to get back to the last few weeks before the Cowboys. This game doesn't need to define the season, and it shouldn't, but the Jaguars need to play a lot better after the bye. They can't have the missed tackles they had Sunday. They can't allow big plays like they allowed Bryant. And the key special teams mistakes just have to stop.

And for now, that's it, because as we said earlier, this has to be quick. So, we're done with London for another year, and we're heading back to the realities of the rest of the season.

So, now the Jaguars head home for a rest.

And as they do, they need to have his year's London experience have the same effect as last year's. The Jaguars got closer as a team last year before the bye, and afterward, they improved and gave themselves and their fans a good feeling.

And both of those parties could use a little of that right now.

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