JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the Jaguars' 31-20 to the Houston Texans at EverBank Field Sunday
1. Bradley: "Our guys really pressed …"Gus Bradley touched on his post-game theme early, and the Jaguars' head coach returned to it again and again Sunday afternoon. As Bradley saw it, Sunday's loss to Houston came down to an early stretch in the fourth quarter and was easily explained. "Obviously, the game didn't play out like we hoped," Bradley said. "I'll just speed it right up: the end of the third quarter, we're up 14-10 and going into the fourth quarter, I felt like our guys really pressed." Bradley said the Jaguars' crucial mistakes Sunday – cornerback Davon House jumping a slant before getting beat deep for an easy touchdown by Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a Pick Six thrown by quarterback Blake Bortles, a late first-half interception thrown by Bortles and a missed fourth-quarter extra point by Jason Myers among them – could be attributed to players trying too hard to make big plays. "That can happen, but we can't allow it to happen," Bradley said. "You cannot press and try to make plays happen. You have to let them come to you."
Images from the Jaguars Week 6 matchup with the Houston Texans.
2. Tough day for Bortles.While Bradley touched on players pressing, Bortles spent most of his post-game press conference discussing interceptions. When that's the case, it means a rough day for the quarterback, and Sunday was perhaps the toughest of the season for the second-year veteran. He threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns, and at times showed the growth he has displayed early this season. But he also threw two costly interceptions, with the first coming in the final seconds of the first half when he was intercepted on the 1-yard line by safety Andre Hal. On the play, with the Jaguars trailing 10-7, Bortles tried to squeeze a pass between defenders to wide receiver Allen Robinson. "It's a chance for us to put up points and go into halftime," Bortles said. "I think it's just bad situational football. We called a play to give ourselves a chance to score a touchdown or throw an incomplete pass and kick a field goal. We had no timeouts, so that's what we needed to do and I didn't do it. It was kind of a bad decision-- bad play. " Hal also returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. On that play, Bortles threw to tight end Julius Thomas assuming Thomas was going to break toward the sidelines. Instead, Thomas sat down on the rout and Hall intercepted easily. "It was just bad communication," Bortles said. "We weren't on the same page."
3. Nowhere to run.The Jaguars' loss to the Texans Sunday came down to a few plays, with a 14-10 lead turning into a 31-14 deficit in a span of less than four minutes in the fourth quarter. But throughout the early part of the game, the Jaguars' running game struggled. With rookie running back T.J. Yeldon out with a groin injury, veteran Toby Gerhart started and rushed for 26 yards on nine carries. Denard Robinson, returning after missing three games with a medial collateral ligament injury, rushed seven times for 19 yards. "It's always tough getting in the groove but once you get the ball, you've got to get in the groove and find your groove," Robinson said. "Of course you want to get more yards when you run the ball and get your opportunities. Yeah, I want to run the ball a little harder than I did." The Jaguars for the game rushed 21 times for 83 yards with Bortles scrambling four times for 37 yards. Without Bortles' runs, the Jaguars rushed for 56 yards on 17 carries. "We were trying to get it established," Bradley said. "Obviously T.J. is a big part of that and does a nice job for us, but it seemed like Toby ran hard. We felt like we were moving the ball on occasion."
4. Solid debut.Overall, Sen'Derrick Marks was relatively pleased. Not that Marks was remotely pleased with the outcome, but the Jaguars' veteran defensive tackle said he came out of Sunday's game feeling good about his surgically repaired knee. Marks, who missed the first five games of the season rehabilitating after offseason anterior cruciate ligament surgery, played mostly on passing situations Sunday. He got some early penetration, and said the knee felt strong throughout and after the game. "I came out pretty good – no bruises, no hurts," Marks said. "I felt good about it. I got in, got some good efficient movement and basically could do my job. I was able to open it up one time on a chase. I felt real good."
5. Picking up speed.Julius Thomas wasn't celebrating much late Sunday, but the veteran tight end said he was pleased for the most part with his second game back from a hand injury that kept him out the first four games of the regular season. Thomas, the Jaguars' top offseason free-agent acquisition, had played 32 plays in Tampa last week in his first game back. He caught two passes for 20 years in that game, but after practicing full throughout the week he was featured far more prominently in the game play Sunday. Thomas' 29-yard touchdown from Bortles gave the Jaguars a 14-10 lead with: 05 remaining in the third quarter. Thomas came wide open in the middle of the field as Bortles beat a blitz on the play. "It was a great play call," Thomas said. "Every once in a while it works out exactly how you expect it to. I was running a clear-out rout and saw one of the safeties sit down. I was able to find the opening behind him." Thomas caught seven passes for 78 yards. "I'm definitely getting more comfortable," It's coming along. I'm starting to feel like the veteran I am. The more comfortable I am, the more I can do and the more they can have me do."