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Quick Thoughts on Jaguars Season Ending Loss to Titans in Week 18

Quick Thoughts - Week 18

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…

  1. So disappointing. There's no other way to say it: Sunday was a brutally disappointing end to a Jaguars season that once held real promise. The Jaguars, needing a victory against a 5-11 team to clinch back-to-back AFC South titles for the first time in franchise history, instead lost for a fifth time in six games. The first four losses of that stretch came against the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those are all either contending teams or teams with recent postseason pedigrees. The Titans, meanwhile, entered Sunday with three consecutive losses, were long since eliminated from the postseason and had an offensive line that had struggled all season. While no games in the NFL are easy, this was absolutely a game a team contending for the postseason should win. The Jaguars showed brief life early with a touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Lawrence to wide receiver Calvin Ridley that gave them a 10-7 lead. But with the postseason in reach, the Jaguars allowed touchdowns on three of the next four Titans drives to fall behind 28-13. They fought after that and had a chance to tie the game. But their slow start gave them too little margin for error and when Lawrence's fourth-quarter goal-line reach reached inches short, the game was all but over. The season ended soon thereafter, with safety Andre Cisco calling the disappointment of missing the postseason "ginormous. It's going to be a year that everybody will look back on in their career, I think, and realize you had a bunch of guys top to bottom that could do it. We had the opportunity to do it today. You get into the playoffs and anything can happen. We didn't even give ourselves that chance."
  2. All-too-familiar. It wasn't hard to find disappointing Jaguars themes Sunday. Perhaps most disappointing was a defense that couldn't stop Titans running back Derrick Henry. The Yulee native was playing in perhaps his last game with the Titans and it seemed the only way the Jaguars could miss the postseason was to allow the Pro Bowl running back to dominate. That happened from the start. Henry rushed for 70 yards on nine first-half carries and was key to the Titans building a 21-13 halftime lead. He then rolled 69 yards on the second play of the second half to set up a six-yard pass from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Credit King Henry, who rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries Sunday. He sat on the throne against the Jaguars yet again.

Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …

  1. Big Game Blues. I didn't see that coming. I thought after missing against the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens they couldn't possibly miss against the Titans with everything on the line. But they did. The Jaguars didn't show up in the biggest games of their season and that's a problem. You can point to the middle of the offensive line and its shortcomings and the problems the Jaguars had in coverage down the field or poor tackling. But it's tough to pinpoint why this team played so poorly with so much on the line. Penalties, turnovers, poor tackling, poor situational awareness and missed red-zone opportunities plagued this team all season, especially in big games – and on Sunday in Tennessee. There must be a lot of soul searching and discussion about a team that "hadn't done anything yet" according to Head Coach Doug Pederson after the loss to San Francisco when they were 6-3. Surely going 3-5 after that hasn't changed his opinion.
  2. What a disappointing way to end a season. This will take some time for Doug Pederson and Co. to work through and they should take all the time they need. The psyche of this team is not right. If they're not careful they could find themselves in a situation similar to the Indianapolis Colts in 2022. Indy painted the score of a season-ending loss to the Jaguars in 2021, a loss that cost them the playoffs, on the wall just inside their locker room that offseason. Ostensibly, it was to remind and motivate them. Instead, then-Colts Head Coach Frank Reich was fired midseason and 2022 was worse than 2021. This loss will be painful enough for the Jaguars, losing the division title and missing the playoffs, but you can't let it beat you again in 2024.

Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...

  1. The Jags fell because of their physical and figurative weaknesses. With everything on the line, the Jaguars were bullied by the Titans from the first whistle. The Titans were faster, stronger and more confident. The Jaguars got pushed around in the trenches, allowing Henry a sendoff fit for a King. After falling behind early, the Jaguars showed little fight to get back into the game until it was nearly out of reach. The Titans looked like they wanted it more and they got what they wanted.
  2. Complacency killed the 2023 Jaguars. After an impressive end to the 2022 season, the Jags returned with nearly an identical roster in 2023. The Jags also ended with an identical record to last season at 9-8. In 2022, the Jaguars ended the regular season on a five-game win streak while this year the Jags lost five of their last six. The Jaguars decided to run it back. This year, 9-8 wasn't good enough in an AFC South that is only getting stronger.

Battle in Nashville ⚔️ Check out top game photos during the Week 18 showdown against the Tennessee Titans.

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