JACKSONVILLE – This one felt like so many other ones.
When analyzing the Jaguars' 25-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at EverBank Field Sunday, it's hard to look beyond the fourth quarter. That's where the Jaguars' eighth consecutive loss felt like so many others during that streak.
The Jaguars led 16-12 entering the fourth quarter and had done a whole lot of things that looked like things winning teams do. They had held the Vikings to four field goals, and they had put together a solid third-quarter drive that ended with an impressive touchdown pass by quarterback Blake Bortles.
Then, the Vikings scored two fourth quarter touchdowns …
Then, the Jaguars' offense failed to get a first down on back-to-back possessions after taking over within a score …
And then the Jaguars lost another game they could have won. There are a lot of other things to discuss from Sunday – special teams and way too many penalties chief among them – but that inability to win a winnable game and the inability to take advantage of opportunities will linger.
Let's get to it …
Jacob from NC:
When are we getting those two more wins?
John: I do not believe the Jaguars will go 2-14 this season.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, my buddy Wayne has convinced me that the Jags should keep Gus around another year, but only if there is a change at quarterback. Gus has presided over a vastly improved defense. I mean, this is a defense that could be really special very soon. The offensive line is playing much better. Receivers are exciting. With better quarterback play we'd be in a four-way tie for the AFC South right now. What do you think?
John: This was the much-ballyhooed, much-discussed, much-anticipated First Email of the Game – and while it wasn't game-specific, it raised an interesting possibility. I think with better quarterback play the Jaguars indeed probably would be in the middle of the AFC South race right now. I also think I've been pretty up front that while coaching understandably gets questioned at 2-11, I believe coaching gets blamed far too often for teams struggling in the NFL – and yes, that's true even considering some lack-of-discipline and mental mistakes Sunday. Still, while I have been up front on those issues I have been just as up front that while I believe in continuity in the NFL, I also believe continuity following a season such as this one would be a tough, tough sell.
Jake from Jacksonville:
Yeah, I think these explosive plays prove that this defense is not as good as everyone thinks. We just play teams that will be happy to win by letting us beat ourselves. The defense is like our offense last year; looks great on paper but they are nowhere near elite. They just play in garbage situations.
John: I have said and written all season that I don't believe the Jaguars' defense is a Top 5 unit, and I don't believe it is elite. But it is improved defense – and it has played well enough to win far more games than the Jaguars have won this season. What the big plays in the first half Sunday proved was that this is the NFL – and NFL teams hit big plays. The Jaguars' defense managed to hold the Vikings to nine points while those big plays were going on – and that kept the Jaguars in the game. More concerning to the defense was the inability to get off the field in the fourth quarter. That has been a season-long issue and is perhaps the major area of the defense that still must improve.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
Because ... Jaguars. There's your answer for every question.
John: That would be pretty repetitive reading – then again, this season has had a very repetitive quality to it. If this season has been defined by anything it's missed opportunity after missed opportunity … after missed opportunity. Sunday's game felt pretty similar on that front. The Jaguars took a 16-12 lead into the fourth quarter and I doubt anyone was surprised when the lead disappeared quickly with little response by the offense. Eight consecutive losses with the last six feeling very similar in the sense that the Jaguars squandered multiple opportunities to beat contending teams … it's just really frustrating and really disappointing and really repetitive and … well, you know.
Don from Duval:
Who in your opinion should be held responsible for the lack of discipline/mental mistakes/ avoidable errors? Whose job is it to install this?
John: Coaching must be responsible for that – and on that front, Sunday was not a good look.
David from Eau Claire, WI: