JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars' 30-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 14 and forward to Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville
1.Reviewing the preview. When previewing Jaguars-Titans, the thought here was the Jaguars needed to lean on running back Leonard Fournette, take shots in the passing game and dominate defensively for a second consecutive week. With the Jaguars struggling in all three areas, it's not surprising they sustained their second most-one-sided loss of the season. Fournette returned from a one-game suspension but was ineffective behind a beat-up line, rushing for 36 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Cody Kessler was more aggressive throwing downfield than in his first Jaguars start a week before, but he was sacked four times and led the Jaguars to just one touchdown – a seven-yard touchdown pass to Dede Westbrook with the Jaguars trailing 30-2. As for defensive dominance … well, the Jaguars allowed Titans running back Derrick Henry to run over, through and around them for 238 yards – a Titans franchise record and the most yards ever allowed to a single runner by the Jaguars. Henry's performance defined what will correctly be remembered as a bad night for the Jaguars overall.
2.As I saw it. The loss to the Titans, while hardly unexpected given the circumstances, was as bad a loss as the Jaguars have sustained under Head Coach Doug Marrone. And it had the feel of a franchise-shaking loss. Here's why it wasn't unexpected: The Jaguars essentially had been eliminated from the playoffs with a loss at Buffalo two weeks before and were coming off an emotional shutout victory over the Indianapolis Colts four days before; it's difficult to sustain an emotional peak once the motivation of the postseason is gone. The Jaguars also were playing on the road on a Thursday night, historically a tough task for any team. But even against that backdrop, the loss was disturbing. The Jaguars failed to score a significant offensive touchdown for the second consecutive game after changing quarterbacks and coordinators, and they had perhaps their worst defensive performance of the season on national television. It was a bad look for a team that has had a lot of them this season.
3.Looking ahead, briefly. Up next for the Jaguars: the Washington Redskins. The Jaguars realistically are at a matchup disadvantage against most teams right now. Injuries have decimated the offense, and Kessler's appearance in the lineup hasn't sparked the passing game as much as hoped. An offense averaging 13.7 points over the last nine games makes the task difficult no matter the opponent. But the Redskins are down to their fourth starting quarterback of the season – Josh Johnson. After entering the second half of the season with a very real chance to win the NFC East, the Redskins have lost four consecutive games following a 6-3 start that was their best since 2008. This is a matchup of two teams that viewed their hopes far differently two months ago. It's a game the Jaguars can win. Will they be motivated to play better than they did Thursday? Stay tuned.
1.Reviewing the preview: I thought the Jaguars' best chance to win in Nashville Thursday was to feed Fournette the football; the Titans' game plan was to take that away. If the Jaguars' offensive line was intact, they should be able to run regardless of opponents' scheme; that's what worked in 2017, but the "B-Team" line couldn't handle Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and crew. The Jaguars did a good job against Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, and they didn't commit the kind of stupid penalties that nearly cost them against the Colts the previous week. What they couldn't manage was Henry, who set a record for most rushing yards ever against the Jaguars and ripped the heart from a unit that a few days earlier looked as good as it had all season. It was a lousy night in Nashville for everyone from north Florida – except the guy from Yulee who looked like Jim Brown in his prime in prime time.
2.As I saw it: The Jaguars had a chance to lift themselves off the mat in Nashville and add a little life to the end of their season. The Titans aren't a great team – they don't look like a playoff contender to me; the Colts are a better team than Tennessee. But the Titans get up to face the Jaguars and they have a burr under their saddle about the 2017 AFC South title residing in Jacksonville. They had all the motivation, and when they stopped the Jags on seven shots inside the 10-yard line in the second quarter, it was all but over; Henry's 99-yard run just put the icing on the Titans' celebration. It was what it was, and this season is what it is. How many days until the 2019 NFL Draft?
3.Looking ahead, briefly: The Jaguars should be able to beat a Redskins team that can lay claim to the "most-injury-riddled team in the NFL" in 2018. Josh Johnson will be their starting quarterback Sunday; he wasn't on the roster a week ago. A month ago, the Redskins had a two-game lead over the Cowboys in the NFC East, today they're on their fourth quarterback and – having lost four consecutive games – are sliding to the end of a disappointing season. They shouldn't score when the game is in doubt this week, but Henry shouldn't have scored from 99 yards away either. The Redskins bring a talented defense to town, but they've slid alongside the offense and have allowed over 400 yards in each of the last four games. This should be a Jaguars victory, but nothing that should have happened this season seems to have worked out that way.