JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley disliked more than he liked.
That's to be expected after a season-opening loss, but the Jaguars' head coach said he liked one thing a lot in the wake of Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers at EverBank Field.
He liked the players' reaction.
"Our guys felt like we missed an opportunity and it hurt," Bradley said Monday at his weekly day-after media briefing following the Jaguars' 27-23 loss to the Packers in the 2016 regular-season opener.
That remained the reaction in the locker room Monday, with players reiterating what many said shortly after Sunday's game – that an opportunity was lost Sunday.
The Jaguars trailed the Packers by four-to-seven points throughout the second half, but drove to the Green Bay 14 with 23 seconds remaining. Quarterback Blake Bortles' quick screen to wide receiver Allen Hurns lost a yard and the Jaguars turned the ball over on downs.
"We let one slip away from us," offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum said. "In essence we gave one away. We had more than enough opportunities to get it done. We had a number of shots at the end zone. We gave one away and you can't give games away in the National Football League."
Linebacker Telvin Smith addressed the team in the locker room Sunday, speaking before Bradley in the game's immediate aftermath.
"The passion for the game runs deep, and the expectations for this season are so much higher," Smith said Monday. "Every game is important, you know what I mean? That was a close one. That's one we should have won and everyone in this locker room truly feels that way, that we should have won that game.
"When we came in here, I just felt like it was something I need to get off my chest with the team and let them know that from this point forward, these are our expectations. We can't let one loss dictate where we go from here or let that team dictate where we go from here."
Smith said the genesis of his speech was that the Jaguars have everything in the locker room needed to win.
"That was my biggest message: we have everything we need; now let's put it together and go out and win the game," he said.
Bradley said he wasn't surprised Smith spoke passionately after the game.
'We've talked about building a group of guys who care a lot about football," Bradley said. "He cares – along with a lot of guys in that locker room."
The Jaguars entered the season with higher expectations that at any point in Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell's three previous seasons. They weren't favored nationally against the Packers, but the confidence within the team was high before and during the game.
"Our guys are having a hard time with this one right now," Bradley said.
The Jaguars rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to take leads of 10-7 and 17-14 in the first half. While they never led in the second half, they stopped the Green Bay offense twice inside the 10 and twice put together extended drives with a chance to tie or take the lead.
"It was a hard-fought game and you see it on tape," Bradley said. "Where I give credit to this team was the poise they had. The focus on the sideline was great."
And that feeling afterward? The pain – and even shock – felt by players after the loss? Bradley said he understood, and liked it. A lot.
"When we were planning for this game I expected our best," he said. "I felt we were going to play really weIl. I'm not shocked we did play well. What I am surprised … I really felt we were going to win this game. That's a good sign and it's a good sign for our team, too. There's a difference between you expect to win and you know you're going to win.
"When you know you're going to win you're shocked if you lost. That what this team is feeling now. That's a good step for our team. We do not accept the loss. How they're handling it says a lot about them."