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Sexton-Oehser: Back and forth

Backandforth

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars’ 30-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5 and forward to Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Oehser …

1.Reviewing the preview: When previewing Jaguars-Chiefs, the thought here was the Jaguars needed to get ahead early, take advantage of opportunities and maintain pace with the Chiefs’ offense while keeping cool in a frenzied environment. The Jaguars instead fell behind 10-0 after two Chiefs drives, squandered multiple first-half opportunities and appeared overwhelmed early. The “overwhelmed” part had more to do with the Chiefs’ offensive speed than the Arrowhead Stadium atmosphere, and it was the early deficit and missed opportunities that defined this game. The Jaguars are not a come-from-behind team; against an offense as potent as that of the Chiefs, the Jaguars’ best chance was to get early stops/turnovers and make the Chiefs’ offense one-dimensional. The Chiefs instead had Head Coach Andy Reid’s entire complex playbook available throughout. Even when the Jaguars’ defense stiffened, three second-quarter Jaguars giveaways and two missed chances from inside the five in the same period helped give the Chiefs what turned out to be an insurmountable 20-0 halftime lead.

2.As I saw it:It’s difficult to look beyond the offense when analyzing Sunday’s loss. While the Jaguars’ defense did not play to its standard in allowing 424 yards and five scores, even the best NFL defenses aren’t going to hold the league’s best offenses scoreless. And they’re not usually going to hold them to single digits. The Jaguars’ defense held the Chiefs’ offense to two touchdowns, limiting it to field goals on three other drives deep into Jaguars territory. The Jaguars also intercepted quarterback Patrick Mahomes twice, which were the sort of momentum-turning players you need against a dynamic offense. The far bigger issue Sunday was the play of Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, which created five turnovers and led to two trips inside the Chiefs’ five-yard line without points. That’s a slew of opportunities lost – and a slew of opportunities given to the opponent. The Jaguars didn’t need Bortles and the offense to be great to win Sunday. They needed them to be just OK, and they weren’t.

3.Looking ahead, briefly: Up next for the Jaguars: the Dallas Cowboys. This game suddenly is very important. A victory will mean a 4-2 record; considering the schedule through six games, that wouldn’t be disastrous. A loss would mean a 3-3 start, which might not quitebe disastrous but would certainly be disappointing considering a 2-0 start included a victory over defending champion New England. Make no mistake: this is a crisis point for the offense. The entire line is dealing with injuries and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out at least two months with a core muscle injury. Running back Corey Grant is out for the season and running back Leonard Fournette has missed three of four games with a hamstring injury. Those injuries, particularly the one to Fournette, have prevented this offense from playing to its power-oriented identity. Can the offense find any identity? Can the defense carry the team until the offense finds one? Those questions that be answered positively if the Jaguars are to get through October still in contention in the AFC South.

Sexton …

1.Reviewing the Preview: Everyone knew the Jaguars’ defense had their hands full Sunday with an explosive offense led by a hot quarterback; as expected, the unit gave up a few big plays and made a few sacks and turnovers – and at the end of three quarters, the Chiefs’ offense had accounted for just 16 points, 20 below their league-leading average. This game turned on the Jaguars’ offense, which couldn’t get anything substantial accomplished against a Chiefs defense that is honestly … terrible. The Jaguars’ ability to win the game was more dependent on their offense than their defense; all the offense did was miss red-zone chances and turn the ball over. 

2.As I saw it: The game swung early in the second quarter when the Jaguars missed a chance to cut into a 10-0 deficit facing third-and-1 at the Kansas City 3. Two incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs, and the Chiefs were soon up 13-0. A field goal doesn’t seem like a lot, but it would have given the defense something to rally behind – and the offense something on which to build heading toward halftime. It was a strange game because it seemed both out of reach and still on the table at the same time … which speaks to how the defense was starting to get its footing while at the same time the offense was unable to take advantage of a bad Kansas City defense.

3.Looking ahead, briefly: The Jaguars must find a way to find their identity, which suddenly seems lost in a wave of injuries. It’s bad enough they’re playing without the running back who represents their identity (Fournette), but the four healthy original offensive line starters all are struggling with injuries while Week 1 starting left tackle Cam Robinson’s replacement, Josh Wells, now has a lingering groin issue to overcome. Mix in the 270-pound combo tight end (Seferian-Jenkins) who’s going to injured reserve and the gadget runner (Grant) who is done for the year with a broken bone in his foot, and you have a serious personality crisis on that side of the football. In front of this group, though, is winnable road game against a reeling Dallas team and a home game against the Texans. It seems daunting but very doable at the same time … kind of like that game in Kansas City.

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