EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the Jaguars' 28-23 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday
1.Too-familiar tune.Gus Bradley put it simply – and he was right. Sunday was about the same things as most Jaguars losses this season: failure to take advantage of opportunities – and too many key mistakes. "We didn't play very good in critical situations, and we turned the ball over too many times," the Jaguars' third-year head coach said after a fifth loss in the past six games. "We just didn't make enough plays today." Bradley added, "We have enough good players, veteran leadership and guys at a young age who are playing well enough that we expect to play consistent football. We didn't today." If that theme sounds too familiar, Jaguars players feel the same way. This team feels it is close and it has shown that at times during the first eight games of the season. The Jaguars have led or been within a touchdown in the fourth quarter seven times this season, but have lost five of those games. "We can't keep coming into this locker room and having this same conversation about, 'We are so close and a couple of plays …''' middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We have to figure out a way to get those one or two plays to go in our favor so we can win."
Images of the Jaguars Week 9 matchup with the New York Jets.
2.Allentown.The performance of the Jaguars' wide receivers may have surprised observers. It probably shouldn't anymore – and it wasn't surprising to quarterback Blake Bortles. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson both overcame up-and-down starts to put up big numbers – and to be a key part of the offensive surge in the final three quarters. Hurns, after being held without a catch in the first 28 minutes, finished with five receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. Robinson, after being limited early by Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, finished with six receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. "We have two of the best (receivers) in the league," Bortles said. "No matter who's covering them, I'm going to throw it to them." Both Robinson and Hurns had early drops, though Hurns' second-quarter drop came on a pass Bortles threw behind him. "What I appreciate is they came back and played consistent," Bradley said. "They made some big plays for us. Drops are going to happen. There are going to be one or two here or there. … Our guys were challenged, and I liked how they bounced back from those and made plays." Tight end Julius Thomas, meanwhile, continued to struggle to be a key part of the offense. "He's obviously a great player," Bortles said of Thomas, who caught three passes for 14 yards. "He's somebody we want to get the ball to. He's good when he has the ball in his hands; he obviously creates mismatches. We're continuing to try to figure things out on how to get him the ball."
3.Stuffed.Eight games in, it's clear the Jaguars can defend the run. While the pass rush has struggled throughout the season, the run defense has been above average with the exception of a loss at Tampa – and it was well above average Sunday. The Jaguars held Jets running back Chris Ivory – perhaps the most physical runner the team has played this season – to 26 yards on 23 carries. "He's a tremendous back," Bradley said. "We went into the game and felt like that was a high priority." Bradley said the Jaguars appeared to tackle and set the edge well, and Posluszny said afterward the return to health of defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks – with his ability to make plays in the backfield – has helped in recent weeks. "He's so disruptive," Posluszny said of Marks. "He makes tackles for losses, and there's an enormous difference between 2nd-and-8 and 2nd-and-12. We're getting more of those (2nd-and-12s) now." Marks underwent reconstructive knee surgery in January and missed the first five games of the season. "I was more comfortable, and it was a different kind of running scheme (than the Jaguars faced the past two games)," Marks said. "I was able to at least feel like I was getting back more to my usual playing."
4.Back in the game.Davon House is back in the starting lineup, and to listen to Bradley, it would be a little surprising if that changed. House, who started the first six games before being benched for Dwayne Gratz at the start of a Week 7 victory over Buffalo, started on Sunday after rotating with Gratz and Demetrius McCray in practice this week. The Jaguars believe in House's ability to be a high-level cover corner, making the move to start Gratz only after House made two avoidable errors in a Week 6 loss to Houston. House on Sunday limited wide receiver Brandon Marshall until Marshall caught a late, game-clinching touchdown on a play on which House appeared to have good coverage. "I thought he really battled well," Bradley said. "I give a lot of credit to Davon House, what he's gone through the last two weeks and how he persevered … it's a credit to him and I liked how he battled through that. For the most part, he showed up today."
5.Turnover time.Turnovers cost the Jaguars Sunday, and if that wasn't the game's entire story, it was a big part. "Offensively, we had four turnovers; defensively, we didn't get any," Bradley said. "When you do that, it's tough to win. It's an uphill battle when you do that – without a doubt." Bortles threw two interceptions, including one early that safety Marcus Williams caught easily after Darrelle Revis tipped a slant pass intended for Robinson. While Bortles also threw a last-minute interception with the Jaguars trying to drive the length of the field, two fourth-quarter fumbles proved particularly costly. The first came when Bortles was sacked by linebacker Demario Davis on 1st-and-20 from the Jets 20 with 5:16 remaining and the Jets leading, 21-16. "I was trying to buy time," Bortles said. "I've got to get rid of the ball or take off and run." Equally damaging was a muffed punt by cornerback Nick Marshall after the Jaguars forced a three-and-out on the ensuing series. The Jets recovered and Marshall's 20-yard touchdown pass three plays later made it a two-score game. "He saw it, looked down and when he looked down, that's when it happened," Bradley said. "It looked like he took his eyes off it."