HOUSTON, Texas – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' 21-20 loss to the Houston Texans Sunday – focusing on the frustration in the Jaguars' locker room in the wake of the loss
HOUSTON, Texas – The frustration was real and vivid.
This was the Jaguars' locker room Sunday afternoon in the wake of a 21-20 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium – and this was before Owner Shad Khan announced the firing of Head Coach Gus Bradley.
During the time between, Jaguars players talked of the frustration of yet another loss – a franchise single-season record-breaking ninth in succession. Two of the most frustrated players were linebackers Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith.
"I know I sound frustrated – it's because I am," said Smith, who has emerged as a team leader in recent months.
Smith was asked if it was the most frustrated he has been after a loss this season.
"I would honestly say I haven't been frustrated," he said. "This is the first time I've actually been frustrated. I've never been around football like this – never … when you're in situations where you know you're the more dominant team – and I'm not even talking about talent, because talent will get your ass beat every Sunday.
"I'm talking about when you have guys who work hard for each other, and I see a head coach who demands we give everything we've got – not only to the job but to the people around you and to the organization ... and you say, 'How can people who want it so bad and who work so hard fall short? …
"That is the frustrating part. It's tough because we are a team that should be able to make mistakes and win ball games and at this point we're not."
Posluszny's frustration was aimed at a defense that failed to hold a 20-8 lead after wide receiver Marqise Lee's 100-yard kickoff return midway through the third quarter.
"This one stands out," Posluszny said. "We're ahead 20-8, and to have that slip away – that's infuriating. That should never happen. Because of the score [at 20-8], we say, 'This should be done.' We let it slip away.
"We should be able to stand up and force enough three and outs and make something happen. We do not let them score that many points."
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was in no mood for celebration or smiles Sunday. The Jaguars' loss to the Texans spoiled that – and spoiled the best game of what has been a standout rookie season for the No. 5 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. "This was possibly the best game of my NFL career so far – hopefully a lot more to come," Ramsey said. "At the end of the day it's still weighing on me that we lost and that we continue to lose. I don't know what the problem is, but it's really frustrating. That's all I'm really thinking about." Ramsey finished Sunday with five pass breakups and a first-half interception. He defensed a second-quarter fade pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on 4th-and-goal from the 1 to cap a goal-line stand, and also separated the ball from Hopkins with a violent third-quarter hit. "I love going against him," Ramsey said. "We're both fierce competitors; we're both dogs. We battled throughout the entire game. It is what it is."
"I don't know for anybody in this locker room how much more frustrated you can be. Once again you have all the opportunities in the world …. chances in the fourth quarter to score … you just don't do it."
--Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles
"We have to continue to play. We kind of got like that basketball team that gets a lead and just stands at the three-point line then hucks a three up as the play-clock runs down. You can't do that. You have to stay aggressive. You have to continue to go make plays. You have to continue to take shots and continue to try to score points. You can't sit there and say, 'We've got a lead; let's try to hang on to this thing and hopefully we win.' You have to continue to go play and continue to produce. We didn't do that."
"I had great blocking. The kickoff return team did a great job executing the blocks. We knew we were going to get the opportunity eventually. We got the opportunity in previous weeks, and we kind of fell short – I got to the 40 or the 50. We felt like we were going to get down there before the end of the year, and it happened today."
--Lee on his 100-yard kickoff return for a third-quarter touchdown