JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the Jaguars' 31-25 loss to the San Diego Chargers at EverBank Field Sunday …
1.Response time.We begin this game-day takeaways with Gus Bradley, who – like much of the Jaguars' locker room – spoke late Sunday of needing to bounce back. Bradley has discussed that often in 43 games as Jaguars head coach, with the team typically responding to adversity. In one sense, that won't be easy in this case: the Jaguars entered Sunday with momentum from three victories in four games. They also entered trailing AFC South-leading Houston and Indianapolis by just one game. With Houston and Indianapolis winning Sunday, the Jaguars are now two games behind with five remaining. "It would have been great to come out of here with another win at home," Bradley said. "I do know this: being around great players and great teams, sometimes you don't get every one of them. I think what I notice is good players, great teams … what they do do is they learn from it and the struggles that they have and they bounce back and they respond quickly. That's what we need to do and that's what I expect our team to do. It is I don't know if unfortunate is the word. I think there's something stronger than unfortunate that took place today." Bradley was asked if "unacceptable" was the right word. "Yeah that's right," he said. "We talk about (when) we're out there, we want to be our best. We weren't our best today. There were far too many plays that were left out there, so that part's unacceptable."
2.Hurns update.Considering the circumstance, the post-game news on Allen Hurns seemed as positive as possible. Hurns, the Jaguars' second-year wide receiver, sustained a concussion diving for an incomplete fourth-quarter pass. Hurns lay on the field a long time, with players from each team gathering around him. He left on a stretcher and was hospitalized in what Bradley later said was a precautionary measure. "He had movement and was responsive," Bradley said moments after the game. "Hopefully it continues to be good news." Hurns was released from the hospital early Sunday evening.
Images from the jaguars Week 12 matchup with the San Diego Chargers.
3.Hard to explain.Credit Blake Bortles for this: when assessing his play, he's consistently honest whether he has played well or not. His performance Sunday fit more into the latter category, particularly in the red zone where the Jaguars scored touchdowns on one of four opportunities. The red-zone touchdown came on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to wide receiver Allen Robinson that made it 31-25 with 1:21 remaining. They settled for field goals on the other trips, with Bortles completing four passes short of the goal line, throwing incomplete three times and twice drawing penalties for passing after scrambling past the line of scrimmage. "I don't know from a coach's perspective what you tell a guy that does that: 'Quit being an idiot?''' Bortles said. "I don't know. I've never done that in my life and I did it twice today. It's not really something you ever talk about or coach. It's kind of a given from the day you start playing football you can't throw the ball forward past the line of scrimmage." Bortles called the penalties "bad plays and tough ones to live with," and also said San Diego dropping eight defenders in coverage on several early red-zone drives caused issues for the offense." It's tough to find holes there, but we've got to be able to do things," he said. "I've got to be sharper in reads and progressions and getting guys the ball."
4.Light day.On paper, the Jaguars appeared to have the opportunity to run Sunday. That opportunity never happened on the field. The Chargers entered ranked 26th in the NFL in run defense, and while the Jaguars rushed for 102 yards on 19 carries, 33 yards came on six carries by Bortles and 10 came on a reverse by wide receiver Marqise Lee. Running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 36 yards on nine carries and backup Denard Robinson rushed for 23 yards on three carries. "It's just kind of how it panned out," Bortles said. "You go in with a game plan and you stick with what's working and what's going on. We want to be a team that runs the ball and runs the ball successfully and well. We don't want to ever necessarily abort the run, but you've got to get the ball down field and move the chains. If the run is not working sometimes you've got to do other things." The Jaguars passed on all 11 of their red-zone plays, with Bradley saying three of those plays were run-pass options. "Blake chose to check out of it to get to some other things based on the look they had," Bradley said. "There were a couple times they were called but to look into more opportunities for him (Yeldon) … I can't argue that fact."
5.Chemistry class.If there is good to be taken from Sunday, perhaps it's from the play of tight end Julius Thomas. The Jaguars' highest-profile offseason free agent signing, Thomas had struggled statistically much of the season, with he and Bortles both talking about the need to develop chemistry together. Thomas on Sunday had by far his most impressive performance of the season, being targeted 10 times and catching nine passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. His 21-yard touchdown reception on 4th-and-7 cut the Chargers' lead to 24-19 with 10:58 remaining, and that play followed an 11-yard reception on 3rd-and-6 from the San Diego 35 on which he out-physicaled cornerback Jason Verrett. "Like I said every week, 'It will come,''' Thomas said. "Blake works his butt off. I work as hard as I can every day. We're working on understanding each other and working on understanding the spots and the timing. There's so much timing that goes into it. It looks like, 'Oh, big guy runs across the field and other big guy with a strong arm throws it to him … simple.' It takes a little more than that and we're developing an understanding of each other. We're looking to continue to have that grow."