JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' 24-21 loss to the Houston Texans Sunday – with an eye on Head Coach Gus Bradley's reaction to the loss
"WE BELIEVE IN THESE GUYS"
Gus Bradley's belief remains strong.
That has been true through a difficult start to the 2016 season, and it remained true following yet another disappointing day Sunday.
"We really believe in these guys," the Jaguars' head coach said. "I do and I know our coaches do the same. So I think we all feel like we're closer where we can get on a run and it's not happening. To get on a run, you got to win one game, so we got to start that. …
"You see enough good things to feel like, 'Now, if we just clean up a couple of these things the outcome will be different.' That keeps you going."
The Jaguars did not lead Sunday and did not force a turnover en route to their fourth consecutive loss after a 2-3 start to the season. They have not led in the last four games and have not forced a turnover in the last five.
They lost Sunday despite outplaying a contending team statistically for a second consecutive week. The Jaguars outgained the Chiefs 449-221 a week ago, but committed four turnovers and forced none in a 19-14 loss.
Sunday was a similar story.
The Jaguars outgained the Texans, 327-273, and had 23 first downs to 16 for the Texans. They held Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler to 99 passing yards and held a 32:10 time-of-possession advantage.
But Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles committed two turnovers, including a first-quarter interception that cornerback Kareem Jackson returned 42 yards for an easy touchdown.
The Jaguars now have a minus-14 turnover margin for the season.
The Jaguars were also hurt by special teams for a fourth consecutive week. They had lost a fumble on a punt return each of the last three games. On Sunday, Texans running back Tyler Ervin's 57-yard third-quarter punt return set up a seven-yard touchdown pass from Osweiler to tight end Stephen Anderson.
"This is a game that each unit can take responsibility for," Bradley said. "As a team, we take responsibility for it because everyone had a part in it."
The Jaguars at 2-7 now trail the AFC South-leading Texans by three games. They are in last place in the AFC South, and Bradley was asked late Sunday about the spirit of the team.
"I don't worry about that with this team," Bradley said. "They're professionals. They'll come back out and they'll work their tails off. That Tennessee game [a 36-22 loss three weeks ago in which the Jaguars trailed 27-0 a halftime] was hard and to come back and see their work ethic the next week …
"So nothing will tell me any different than this team's character and how they will go after it."
A PLAY OR TWO HERE OR THERE
The Jaguars' defense allowed 17 points Sunday with seven coming on a point-blank drive following Ervin's punt return. Still, the defense afterward bemoaned a play or two it didn't make, most notably a 3rd-and-16 play early in the fourth quarter that Texans running back Akeem Hunt turned into a 17-yard, first-down converting run. Kicker Nick Novak converted a 51-yard field goal eight plays later for a 24-13 lead. "Defense played pretty good all day, but that's the one that really sticks out," Bradley said. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey's focus was on a late 3rd-and-5 on which he allowed Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to catch a 10-yard pass. The play enabled the Texans to drain the clock with the Jaguars trailing by the final margin. "Biggest target of the game for me and I lost it," Ramsey said. "It is what it is."
"We've got to make plays. If we make plays, we win games. If we don't, we don't win games. It's that simple. The National Football League isn't that complicated. If you make plays, you win games. If you don't make plays, you don't win games."
--Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum
"The season is 16 weeks long so we have to finish 16 weeks. I think we have a lot of young guys that have to understand that this is a long season and we still can come back – as crazy as it sounds. We can still come back and win this division. I think we just got to keep focus and it's about longevity and it's about getting better every day and we're going to do that here."
--Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson
"We have to get turnovers; we can have all the tight coverage we want but at the end of the day we have to find a way to affect the game in a positive way and steal possessions for our offense."
---Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin