JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars' loss to the Tennessee Titans and forward to this week's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens
1.Reviewing the preview.Previewing Titans-Jaguars came down to a few keys that figure to be key for the Jaguars throughout the season – the ability to pressure the opposing quarterback (Marcus Mariota), the ability to run block for rookie running back Leonard Fournette and the ability to get wide receiver Marqise Lee involved in the offense. The Jaguars did the latter two things OK in spots on Sunday, but the defensive line's inability to control the game hurt Sunday. Whereas the Jaguars' defensive line was the best unit on the field in the Jaguars' Week 1 victory over Houston, that honor on Sunday went to the Titans' offensive line. The Jaguars' defense got just one sack compared to 10 in Week 1, and the unit never created the havoc – or the scoring opportunities it created in Week 1.
2.As I saw it.Sunday's game came down to a few points beyond the Titans' offensive line. One was quarterback play. While Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone correctly said quarterback Blake Bortles wasn't really at fault for two of his three giveaways Sunday, Bortles also entered the fourth quarter having completed 11 of 25 passes for 89 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. It's tough to win consistently in the NFL when the quarterback can't make more plays than that. And Marrone was spot on in the postgame press conference when he said penalties and turnovers killed the Jaguars' Sunday. Penalties had them playing behind the chains on five of six second- and third-quarter possessions. That stretch also featured three turnovers. This team won't be able to withstand such stretches and win. Few teams can.
3.Looking ahead, briefly.The Jaguars are 1-1, tied for first place in the AFC South. While allowing touchdowns on four consecutive drives against Tennessee was disheartening, the Jaguars' season in no way ended at EverBank Field Sunday. The Ravens are a very good defensive team that has eight interceptions through two games. But they mirror the Jaguars in a lot of ways: good defense, an offense finding its stride, a need to create turnovers to win. The Jaguars have played the Ravens tough in recent seasons, and they have won their last two games at Wembley Stadium. The UK has felt like a home-field advantage the last two seasons. If the Jaguars win at their second home Sunday, then they return from London 2-1 in first place in the AFC South. That would make Sunday's loss at the 'Bank seem like a distant memory.
*1.Reviewing the preview. *The Titans did exactly what I thought they would do Sunday, which was to stack the line of scrimmage and sell out against the run – thereby making Bortles beat them rather than Fournette. It was 2016 all over again with sack/fumbles and tipped-ball interceptions combined with hesitancy in the pocket that all but assured the Jaguars' demise. I couldn't tell if Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett were more unsure of their quarterback or if their quarterback more unsure of himself most of the game. I kept waiting for them to make a dramatic change of direction and empty the backfield to take shots down the field when I realized that without wide receiver Allen Robinson they couldn't do it. The "Make Blake" defense isn't going away until either the game plan or the quarterback reaches a boiling point and decides it's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep for the whole season.
2.As I saw it. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. needed to be the 'X' factor, the guy the Titans couldn't scheme for and couldn't figure out all afternoon. That's admittedly a tall order against an offensive line that's exceptional, but Fowler didn't show up in the stats with as much as an assisted tackle. The only time I saw him all day was when his helmet was torqued off by tackle Jack Conklin in the first quarter and when he jumped offside prior to the second-half field goal that gave the Titans a 6-3 lead. The Jaguars need him to be a consistent threat. Still, as I type this I recall the folks in Kansas City where I grew up saying the same thing about Derrick Thomas year after year. I guess sometimes you have the secret sauce and sometimes you don't.
3.Looking ahead, briefly. The Jaguars have a decided home-field advantage this week against a Ravens team that never has never played overseas and a home-field crowd at Wembley, where fans have grown more attached after victories over the Bills and Colts the last two seasons. The Ravens, though, have a decided advantage in the "Make Blake" scheme with a defense that has created 10 turnovers in the season's first two games. Sunday's loss to the Titans felt like the same old Jaguars, but they're better than that – and can prove it with a bounce-back victory over Baltimore. A victory in London sits them at 2-1; with the Titans playing Seattle and the Texans playing in New England Sunday, the positive vibes can be back before they're even halfway across the Atlantic Sunday night.