Sexton-Oehser: Back and forth

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers and forward to Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans

Oehser …

*1.Reviewing the preview. *When previewing Jaguars-49ers, the thought here was the Jaguars needed to get a double-digit lead, overwhelm the 49ers’ offensive line and stay aggressive offensively. They never got the first, couldn’t do the second and made too many mistakes trying to do the third. The Jaguars did rally from an early 16-point deficit to take a three-point lead, but failed to take advantage of a chance to extend it further early in the third quarter. Instead, cornerback K’Waun Williams made the play of the game and his leaping interception gave the 49ers back the momentum they had lost. The Jaguars registered just one sack on 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the Jacksonville defensive line never controlled Sunday’s game as they had so many others this season. As far as staying aggressive offensively, the Jaguars did – but quarterback Blake Bortles’ first three-interception game of the season proved too much to overcome.

2.As I saw it. This game that will cause many Jaguars followers angst. That’s natural because a defense many consider one of the NFL’s best allowed a season-high 44 points. But much as the Jaguars’ responded to a similar 37-16 loss to Tennessee in Week 2 with a one-sided victory over Baltimore in Week 3, the thought here is the Jaguars will respond to the 49ers loss fine. The Jaguars regained their footing Sunday and took a 19-16 lead after trailing 16-0 early. They had second-half opportunities and let them get away in a flurry of interceptions and defensive penalties. But this defense has been too good all season to turn in many performances such as Sunday’s and Bortles showed savvy in the face of some mistakes by his young receiving corps that led to at least one of the interceptions. Sunday was disappointing, but it needn’t be a season-defining game.

*3.Looking ahead, briefly. *Up next for the Jaguars: the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday at 1 p.m. This game looked much of the season like it would be critical for the AFC South title – and perhaps for the playoff hopes of both teams. As it turned out, it means nothing for the Jaguars’ playoff seeding – and it couldn’t mean more to the Titans. The Jaguars at 10-5 are locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC whatever happens Sunday. The Titans will be in the postseason with a victory and out if they lose. Will the Jaguars rest key players? How long will starters play? Those are the questions the Jaguars will hear all week. The positive for the Jaguars is Head Coach Doug Marrone will have the option of resting key players if he so desires. But will he so desire?

Sexton …

*1.Reviewing the preview. *I didn’t think Garoppolo would play like Tom Brady and I didn’t expect San Francisco to play like they were the Patriots … but they did. From the first drive, the Jaguars’ defense looked lost as 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy G did whatever they wanted. The Jaguars fell behind 16-0 and a brief rally was summarily dismissed after a turnover put the 49ers back in the driver’s seat; once again, the Jaguars couldn’t find a way to overcome Garoppolo or their own consistent mistakes. It was exactly the scenario I wrote I couldn’t envision because this team was different … right?

*2.As I saw it. *We’ll all be looking at this defense under a much stronger microscope this week. Forget for a moment the surgical precision with which Garoppolo picked them apart, using a fullback or a tight end to leave them looking lost. Their inability to control themselves with the game on the line had me wondering where the leadership was and from where it would come. There was plenty of bickering on the sidelines, which was captured on television and brought to the attention of the audience; the cameras never circled back when the guys were resolving their differences. The part that will be on my radar this week: can defensive tackle Malik Jackson, end Yannick Ngakoue and linebacker Myles Jack control their emotions as we reach a time when emotions rise with increasingly rising stakes.

*3.Looking ahead, briefly. *The big question this week is whether Marrone values resting key players over dictating his playoff opponent. If the Jaguars sit starters and capitulate in Nashville, they likely will see the same Titans in Jacksonville on Wild Card Weekend. If they don’t want to see the Titans a third time, this season they could play to win and knock Tennessee out of the playoffs – and wait to see if the Bills or Chargers end up in the game. I don’t expect Marrone to tip his hand, but in my opinion this team needs to play and reestablish their posture and not finish the season on a two-game losing streak … the Jaguars aren’t Bill Belichick’s Patriots or Mike Tomlin’s Steelers.

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