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A view from the Ozone: Same familiar feeling


INDIANAPOLIS – You wanted spirited? You got spirited.

You wanted a different feel, a different look – even a different level – after the bye week?

The Jaguars showed that, too.

Yes, the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon got a whole lot of things they wanted and very much needed after the 2014 bye week – with two very unavoidable, bothersome issues.

They only got them on defense. And they only got them for a half.

And that wasn't nearly enough.

Those unavoidable/bothersome issues, of course, overwhelmed any good for the Jaguars in a 23-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. And because anything good was overwhelmed, the post-game locker room on Sunday felt too much like too many other post-game locker rooms this season.

First half images of the Jaguars Week 12 matchup in Indianapolis.

The same quotes. The same feeling.

The same answers that don't make anyone following this team or playing for this team feel much better about much of anything.

"It's definitely frustrating," defensive tackle Roy Miller said. "It's hard. It's definitely frustrating. It just didn't come together. Everybody had a time in life when they're playing something and they put their heart into it and it backfired. It doesn't feel good."

Miller did his best to answer, to provide perspective.  The veteran has been all class all season after losses, as most of these players have been this season.

The problem is after 10 losses in 11 games there's not much more to say, and Miller's quote sort of sums up how the Jaguars have felt after the last three or four losses, the ones during a four-game losing streak that followed a Week 7 victory over Cleveland.

The Jaguars are putting their hearts into this. They're working.

The improvement they have made since last season, particularly on defense, is real. The Jaguars on Sunday were impressive defensively in the first half. They were dominant and cohesive and they made more plays than it was really fair to expect against a Colts offense that entered the game No. 1 in the NFL in yards and passing yards.

The Jaguars wanted turnovers and they forced them.

They wanted early momentum and they got it.

What they couldn't do is take advantage, and the reason they couldn't is the offense remains a struggle right now. They wanted to run Sunday, and couldn't. At least not effectively enough to control the ball and create manageable third downs. They wanted to keep Luck and the Colts off the field and control tempo with Denard Robinson, and while they had spurts of effectiveness on the ground, they didn't have enough.

And then there's the question of Blake Bortles.

The Jaguars' rookie quarterback had struggled in the weeks before last week's bye. He has thrown at least one interception in every game this season, a streak that continued Sunday, but even aside from the interceptions, he hasn't looked as confident and hasn't been as effective as early in the season.

There are a multitude of legitimate reasons for that, and Bortles' current struggles don't mean he's not the franchise guy. He still will have every chance to be that, and he's the starter until he's not. And some of the reasons he is struggling – a young offensive line that sometimes doesn't give him a clean enough pocket to throw comfortably downfield and a young, inexperienced receiving corps chief among them –  are legitimate.

Still, you wanted to see Bortles a bit more confident Sunday. You want to see a few games between now and season's end when he has more big plays than mistakes.

Sunday wasn't such a game.

Instead, what the Jaguars saw was an offense that produced 104 yards in the first half and one that lost 12 yards in the third quarter, a quarter that began with the game very much in doubt.

Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III was asked if he was surprised with the offense's struggles.

"I am," he said. "I thought we had a great week of practice. I thought we were prepared. We didn't do a great job of executing."

Shorts said the Jaguars needed to take advantage of opportunities, and that they needed to get touchdowns instead of field goals. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, too, said that what really hurt the Jaguars not scoring when the defense created opportunities.

They're right, and that may just be the Jaguars' reality this season – that with a slew of rookie starters, they may just a bit too young offensively to take advantage of those opportunities, that they may just be too inexperienced right now to be as consistent offensively as is needed to be good. That doesn't mean they won't be good eventually. That doesn't mean there aren't players who will form the core.

It just means that right now this offense may be exactly what we are seeing.

That's frustrating, even if it is expected, and that's what defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks was talking about afterward.

"It is frustrating," Marks said. "As a veteran, you have to realize we're going to go through those tough times. It gets frustrating, but you have to find a way to work through it. Am I frustrated? Yeah. Is it the end of the world? No. We'll keep going and keep trying to help the guys get better and get the team playing well."

That's indeed what the Jaguars will keep doing. They've kept doing it all season, and there's no reason to think they'll stop now. The Jaguars showed real heart, and real energy, Sunday. They made you believe for a half that maybe this could be the biggest victory yet of Bradley's tenure.

Those were positives.

They just weren't enough to counter the bothersome issues that again proved too real to overcome.

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