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Oehser: Jaguars "not close to close" in loss at Washington


LANDOVER, Maryland – We'll start with an understatement. This wasn't the Week 2 the Jaguars wanted. Or needed.

And it sure wasn't expected.

It wasn't close, and it wasn't close to close. It was the sort of loss after which players get asked, "What's next?" On Sunday when players answered, they used words such as frustrating, disappointing, embarrassing. It was indeed all of those things and then some and it really even wasn't as close as the Washington Redskins' 41-10 margin of victory indicated.

That meant a long afternoon on a perfect Maryland day at FedEx Field, and it made for a quiet locker room afterward, a locker room with words as determined as they were disappointed.

And, yes, the word "embarrassed" came up.

One player who mentioned it was guard Zane Beadles, whose words focused on an offensive line finding a way to improve significantly and quickly after allowing a franchise-record 10 sacks.

"You can't get mad," Beadles afterward. "You can be disappointed and embarrassed and whatever you want to call it, but the bottom line is people are going to remember what happens after this. We need to grow from that."

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said embarrassed wasn't the right word, but said without question players and coaches "know that we're held accountable to this."

"We have to stand up and face it and we have to attack this," he said.

Bradley added, "This one hurts. There's some pain. We have to turn these words into wisdom. We have to understand that the guy on top of the mountain didn't fall there. You have to work to get there. We have to push our guys. It's not that they didn't work hard. They had a good week of practice. I just didn't feel like we stayed true to our techniques throughout. It comes back to fundamentals."

What bothered Bradley wasn't that this seemed a winnable game on paper, and there wasn't a feeling in the locker room that the Jaguars had let a winnable game not only slip away but get swept away in a flurry of missed tackles and successful Redskins blitzes.

The Jaguars don't talk about "winnable games," and early in Year 2 of the Bradley/Dave Caldwell era there is no standings watching going on. Oh-and-2 was not a post-game topic.

Images from the 1st half of the Jacksonville Jaguars week 2 game against the Washington Redskins in FedExField

What bothered Bradley was the Jaguars didn't play as well as he believed them capable. When this team doesn't play to its potential – when it doesn't do little things well – winning won't happen. There's not enough talent yet, and not enough experience.

When the Jaguars surged to start the second half last season, there was a feeling after each of the four victories that the team had pretty much maxed out.

Sunday wasn't the Jaguars' max, and that wasn't just bothersome to the head coach.

"We didn't do what we are capable of doing, what we practice all the time," defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "We have to basically point a finger at ourselves individually to make our team that much better. We have to take it. We have to accept it.

"If people want to say, 'That didn't look like our team out there,' they're right. We didn't. We didn't get better. We didn't show anything we say we do. Every guy has to do it individually. It's not an individual sport, but that's what we have do. We have to grow up and take responsibility for it and fix it.

"We have to take this one, and it's tough. It's tough."

That was a post-game theme, too, that each player must resolve to improve. It's the language of a losing locker room, yes, but in this case, there is truth.

"We didn't play up to our expectations," Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We have the ability. We have the desire to play a lot better than we did. But we did not show it today."

No, they didn't. Bradley said that doesn't mean it's time for panic. He said he didn't consider playing rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, and gave no indication he will seriously consider it this week. And indeed, from the press box it was hard to see where the rookie would have fared considerably better than Chad Henne Sunday.

Ten sacks is 10 sacks. That's a very high number that makes it difficult to throw deep. It makes it difficult to throw short, too, with defenders overplaying the short pass because the quarterback has little time to do anything else. Really, most of the day Sunday just about everything the Jaguars tried looked … well, difficult.

Bradley was asked afterward his message to fans.

"We're going to have some growing pains," he said. "I know that's not maybe an acceptable answer."

No, it's not. He knows it and players know it. Everyone knows it, and while we could spend time coughing up statistic after statistic, we won't. Suffice to say the Jaguars were outgained 154-0 in the first quarter, and it never felt too much better on either side of the ball after that.

No, this one was what players said it was. It was frustrating and disappointing, and to listen to players in the locker room, there was embarrassment. The team can improve, and there are still sound, long-term reasons this team will improve over time. But the wake of a 31-point loss to a team playing a backup quarterback isn't the time for that discussion.

Instead, it's a time to return home and a time to get better and not just talk about it. Bradley said as much afterward, and players echoed it practically man for man. If the post-game locker room was any indication, it will be more than talk. It will be a week of focus, and individual assessment.

That's what next. That's what's needed.

And it's needed pretty much now.

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