HOUSTON – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the Jaguars' 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on Sunday
1."What do you say?"We begin this game-day takeaways with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, who late Sunday summed up the loss by saying, "Overall, what do you say?" Indeed. The Jaguars, after being ahead or within one score in the fourth quarter of 12 of 14 regular-season games, turned in a second consecutive uncompetitive performance Sunday. They were outgained 402-215, allowed eight sacks, rushed for 32 yards on 14 carries and failed to score a touchdown for first time this season. They also committed four turnovers, including a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Kareem Jackson. Defensively, the Jaguars kept the game within two touchdowns, but also allowed 5.2 yards rushing per carry. Alfred Blue rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught seven passes for 89 yards. "There's not really a whole lot of things to say other than they flat-out beat us in every phase of the game," quarterback Blake Bortles said. This was not the competitive performance that defined much of the season. "We just need to continue to get better," Bradley said. "That's a good team that we faced, a really good defensive team. I think it gives us a measuring stick – where we're at, where the team that won our division is at and the work that needs to be done. That's how we'll approach it."
2.Slow start, slow finish. The Jaguars' season-long trend of slow starts continued Sunday, with their failure to score a first-half offensive touchdown leading to a 17-3 halftime deficit from which they never recovered. The Jaguars this season scored 35 first-quarter points, with the starts enough of an issue that Bradley last week before a loss to the Saints considered breaking his usual pregame strategy of deferring to the second half if the Jaguars won the toss. The Jaguars won the toss Sunday and Bradley indeed opted to receive the kickoff. "We took the ball to see if that would have any impact," Bradley said with a laugh. The Jaguars lost five yards on that possession, with defensive end J.J. Watt beating Sam Young for an eight-yard sack to end the series. The Jaguars trailed 10-0 before scoring, but Bortles put the start in perspective afterward by saying, "I don't if I'd call this one a slow start as much as I'd call it a slow game. Everything was pretty bad."
3.Tough day at left tackle.Credit Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel for this: Sunday was one of his worst games in three NFL seasons, and he owned up afterward. Joeckel allowed four sacks and at least two other pressures, allowing two of four-time Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt's three sacks and two of defensive end Whitney Mercilus's game-high three-and-a -half sacks. He also was called for holding in the second half. "I just didn't do my job," Joeckel said. "They did a lot of bears, so it was a lot of ones-on-one stuff. Everyone has to do their job and I didn't. … I'm disappointed. I have a sick feeling in my stomach. I have to be better." Joeckel for the most part showed improvement this season over a second year in which he struggled, but this wasn't close to a high note. "I think I made strides [this season], but I don't think it matters," he said. "This one .. you do look at film, but you don't get the chance to make fixes, and that's what's tough about this one. I'm definitely going to have a sick feeling about this one."
Gameday images from the Jaguars Week 17 showdown with the Texans.
4. "The scheme is really, really good."Paul Posluszny isn't one lobbying for a defensive change. In fact, the defensive captain and starting middle linebacker said he has no doubt the team's hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense can work – that despite the unit's struggles toward the end of this season. "The scheme is really, really good," Posluszny said. "We can have success with it; we just need to play better at times and maybe add a couple of guys, but to me this scheme is great. We'll see." Speculation from outside the team has centered around possible adjustments or changes in the scheme, and Bradley after Sunday's game was asked about possible coaching staff changes. Bradley dismissed offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and hired Greg Olson as his replacement last January. "Whatever we do or don't do, we'll decide that this week – or look at," Bradley said. "When we get a chance to visit and look at the film, then we'll come together as a staff."
5.Search for the truth.Bradley following Sunday's loss steered clear of making sweeping assessments of the entire 2015 season, saying instead he wanted to wait a few days to assess progress made or not made during his third season. He did, however, say it was "disappointing" to have lost five of six games after a 4-6 start that had the Jaguars within a game of first place in the AFC South. "We didn't finish like we wanted to and the results didn't come out like we hoped," Bradley said, adding that the regular-season finale was "one game" and that the time for overall assessment will come soon. "We have to sit back after the season and say, 'Who are we and where are we in this journey that we're on? What do we need to do?''' he said. "There are things we can do coaching-wise. There things we can do scheme-wise. There are things we can do to get better personnel-wise. We know the truth and when you play a game like this it shows some of the truth. We have to find the truth in where we're at and be able to evaluate it."