JACKSONVILLE – New week, same story.
That's the reality of the Jaguars' season right now, isn't it? They're 2-7, and the losses the last two weeks have been hauntingly, frustratingly similar.
The Jaguars lost the turnover battle. Quarterback Blake Bortles struggled with accuracy. A special teams error proved costly. The Jaguars fell behind, made a late charge and fell short in a game they could have won but found a way to lose.
That paragraph told the story of the Chiefs game in Kansas City a week ago. It told the story of Sunday's 24-21 loss to Houston at EverBank Field. The Jaguars now have lost three games in blowout fashion and four games in which they found creative, frustrating ways to lose.
It not only adds up to seven losses by mid-November but another season in which the playoffs have drifted from the conversation far too soon.
It ain't good, friends. It ain't good at all.
Let's get to it …
Oliver from Yuck:
Blake gonna Blake. Deja vu!
John: This was the much-anticipated, much-discussed, much-ballyhooed First Email of the Game. Unsurprisingly, the topic was Bortles. This came immediately after Bortles was intercepted on the Jaguars' first drive of the game with cornerback Kareem Jackson returning the interception 42 yards for a touchdown. It was Bortles' 11th interception of the season and the ninth time in his career he has had an interception returned for a touchdown. Bortles responded with a very good drive on the ensuing possession, but good drives don't make up for Pick Sixes in the NFL – and Bortles remained inconsistent through the rest of the game. His inaccuracy has emerged as the dominant storyline of a frustrating season. Bortles unquestionably needs to finish this season strong – and that means playing consistently with fewer avoidable mistakes. Sunday wasn't a great start on this front.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Jason Myers … Holy cow! He could have made that from 75 yards. What a boot.
John: You're talking about the 54-yarder that Myers made in the second quarter to make it 14-10, Texans – and you're right: it would have been good from much longer. Myers' leg strength never has been a question.
Sam from Jacksonville:
My prediction for 2016 and beyond: Jags win one more game this year ... clean house, start all over ... AGAIN … and make the playoffs again in 2025 ... and when they do, they have five thousand fans in the stands.
John: I predict you couldn't be more incorrect, but OK.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Now we can say, without exaggerating, that Blake Bortles can't even throw it into the ground!
John: This email came right after a first-half play on which Bortles tried to throw the ball away and it instead bounced off the foot of running back T.J. Yeldon and into the arms of Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus. It was ruled a fumble because it was backward, but whatever: it was a play so weird that you would have called it unbelievable – except that within the context of what has gone on during this Jaguars season it seemed very believable indeed. Still, as far as the email … yeah, I laughed. Good one, Marcus.
Chris from Mandarin:
Blake is the problem. Everyone can see it. Maybe next year.
John: It's hard to argue this point right now. Bortles is not the only thing going wrong with the Jaguars. The defense isn't forcing turnovers and the run defense gave up too many big plays Sunday. But there have been a few games this season that the Jaguars clearly would have won had Bortles played just a smidge better. Sunday falls into that category.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
How many INTs before he is benched John?
John: I do not know. But more than 13 evidently.
Pradeep from Bangalore, India:
Hey John, Is Dante Fowler Jr.stable? Repeated unnecessary aggressiveness hurting the team at crucial juncture of the game. It would be great if we bench him for a game or two. He is not learning from his mistakes.
John: It's hard to disagree with this too vehemently. Dante Fowler Jr. has been penalized eight times this season, including three for unsportsmanlike and/or unnecessary roughness. They are avoidable penalties and they're very damaging and they have defined Fowler's season thus far. His penalty on Sunday bordered on ridiculous. He chased quarterback Brock Osweiler across the field then hit Osweiler well out of bounds. Fowler is committing silly, inexcusable penalties at a rate I've never before witnessed. It's hard to argue that they're the reason the Jaguars are 2-7, but it's easy to argue that they need to stop.
Ray from Monroe, CT:
Looks to me like there are honestly two big glaring holes that have cost us multiple games – special teams, and of course quarterback play. Blake makes some good throws but his "best" attribute is the long ball and today he missed, what, four touchdowns by under- or over-throwing the ball? This team preaches competition. Why is it so different to have it at quarterback? I know you say you can't give up on him but it's the only position that has no consequence for being bad. Why is he so different?
John: Because he's the quarterback.