FOXBORO, Mass. – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the Jaguars' 51-17 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., Sunday
1.Bradley takes blame …We begin game-day takeaways with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, who made it clear much of what happened Sunday was unacceptable. In particular, he said he made some critical decision-making mistakes at critical times. "I think it starts with me," Bradley said. "I told the team, 'There are some decisions I made that we can look at it.' I'll learn from them. I didn't help us. I put is in a couple of tough positions." Bradley in his post-game remarks emphasized a decision to play aggressively on offense at the end of the first half. Trailing 13-3 with 2:00 remaining in the second quarter, quarterback Blake Bortles overthrew tight end Marcedes Lewis. Patriots safety Devin McCourty intercepted and returned it 27 yards to the Patriots. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's 1-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola eight plays later gave New England a 20-3 halftime lead. "It turned," Bradley said. "It was like a 14-point swing right there. Whether we would have gotten in and scored we don't know, but going into the locker room – at least 13-6 would have been a good thing. But we're still going to be bold. We went after it." Bradley also took the blame for communication failure leading to a third-quarter failed fake punt. "The look didn't represent the look we wanted, but it wasn't communicated throughout the front line," he said. But Bradley's focus after the game for the most part was on the sequence at the end of the first half. Asked if he was discouraged, Bradley said, "Yeah, I am discouraged … I just felt like, 'Here's a chance to at least go in 13-6, down a touchdown …' and that didn't take place. That's discouraging to me."
Images of the Jaguars Week 3 matchup with the New England Patriots.
2. … so does Bortles.Bortles was as displeased as Bradley Sunday, and when it came to the late first-half interception he wasn't at all blaming Bradley's "decision-making." As the second-year quarterback saw it, the pass that McCourty turned into a momentum-changing interception was one that couldn't be thrown. "The last thing you can have in that situation is a turnover," Bortles said. "Bad play, bad throw. I had Marcedes running down with a linebacker trailing him and I just missed him. It was a bad throw, and you really can't have that." Bortles said while the offense did some good things in the first half, putting together some extended drives and threatening to cut into a 10-point lead just before halftime, "We really shot ourselves in the foot. I just don't think we played very well." The Jaguars produced 293 yards and 15 first downs Sunday, including 119 yards in the first half. Their two touchdowns offensively came after the Patriots led, 30-3 in the third quarter.
3.Precise, precise, precise. Bradley talked a lot in the post-game about the precision displayed by the Patriots, and the Jaguars' defense indeed allowed New England's offense to be stunningly precise. The Patriots had nine possessions before kneeling twice to end the game; they scored on all nine possessions. "What can I say defensively?" Bradley said. "I think they had nine drives and they scored on all nine. I'm not here saying if we just had a couple of plays back the outcome would have been different. That's not the case. They're a very good team and played extremely well. We need to learn to play with more precision." Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said while New England is playing at a high level offensively, mistakes by the Jaguars hurt, too. He said it was particularly discouraging that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had big plays early that stemmed from miscommunication. "We let the elite tight end in the game run free," he said. "We beat ourselves with a lot of that. We didn't help ourselves by any means by having awareness of where he was."
4.The Patriots are really good.As much as there is to analyze about what the Jaguars did wrong Sunday, a big reason for Sunday's final margin is the Patriots are indeed very good. They took advantage of matchup advantages in the middle of the Jaguars' defense early and the Jaguars never solved it. "This offense is performing at an extremely high level," Posluszny said. "They're very, very talented and they have the elite quarterback in the game. He has a lot of threats to throw the ball to. They are operating on a very high level right now." The Patriots finished with a franchise-record tying 35 first downs and 471 total yards. In addition to Brady, the Patriots also rushed for 125 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. "Any time you're giving up any type of runs over two or three yards, you're upset," defensive end Jared Odrick said. "At the same time, you have to be able to look at the tape and understand what you're looking at before you start getting upset.'' Asked what teams have to do to stop the Patriots' offense, Posluszny replied, "I wish I could tell you. Each team will try to do it their way. You have to be extremely fundamentally sound. You can't make mistakes. When you don't, they take full advantage of that."
5.Sticking with the plan.The Jaguars had a choice to make Sunday: pressure Brady and allow big plays in the passing game, or drop defenders in coverage and make the Patriots quarterback be efficient for long periods. They chose the latter, and Brady completed 33 of 42 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars sacked Brady twice, but overall the Patriots' passing offense was efficient. "When he sees you bringing pressure and sees you bringing five guys he takes advantage of it," Posluszny said. "The fact that he was getting the ball out so quick – four, five guys (rushing), it didn't matter. When he's in a three-step drop and getting the ball out that fast, it all comes down to us sprinting to the football and tackling. Our guys didn't have enough time to get home."