SAN DIEGO, California – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 38-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium Sunday
1.This was disturbing. That's true for many reasons, but the main reason is that this was a game in which the Jaguars could and should have started strongly and made a statement. The Chargers are a good team, but they're not so dominant that they should have dominated the Jaguars from the outset – and the Jaguars absolutely should not have looked overmatched and overwhelmed. There were obstacles in this game, to be sure. It's tough to travel west for an East Coast team. It's always tough playing Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. But a loss such as Sunday's? A 21-point first-half deficit? No, those things shouldn't have happened.
2.Blake Bortles can't have first halves like he did Sunday. It's not right to pin everything that went wrong for the Jaguars early on the third-year quarterback. No unit played well, and the Jaguars as a team looked overmatched from the start – surprisingly so. But Bortles' two first-half interceptions were on a throw behind wide receiver Marqise Lee and on a throw that he forced deep down the middle of the field into coverage. He also had a fumble deep in Jaguars territory in the second quarter. Those are things reminiscent of last season when Bortles was a statistically impressive quarterback who still needed to hone some fundamentals and play more like a veteran. Sunday was a sign that there's still some growing to do.
3.There was a lot of blame to go around. We said in No. 2 that it wasn't right to pin everything Sunday on Bortles and that was true. The defense struggled early by not remotely stopping the run on the Chargers' first drive, and back-to-back 20-yard-plus runs on that possession set the tone for the game. The pass rush pressured Rivers at times, but not enough to disturb him – and the offense committed three first-half turnovers, all by Bortles. The Jaguars actually averaged 6.0 yards per play in the first half, but were 0-for-4 on third downs and movement was sporadic at best. Basically, it never felt as if the Jaguars were in this game. That was a sharp contrast to the result this team expected entering the game, and there were a lot more reasons than just the quarterback.
- The Jags lack of discipline is growing more troubling by the game. 9 vs. Green Bay grew to 13 in San Diego and so many of them came in critical moments of the game. This was a wake up call for Gus Bradley's team....are they paying attention now?
- I didn't agree with the number of screens they ran on Sunday. They threw it at TJ Yeldon 10 times for 8 yards gained. Take the shots down the field to Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee or Julius Thomas. This team led the NFL in down the field shots last year. It's what they do. Running sideways isn't their personality.
- It was good to see Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngocque be so disruptive. It's a reminder that the core of this team is still very inexperienced. They're going to be better, though it's tough to justify based on the performance in San Diego. There is a lot of pressure on those young guys and they showed why the Jags are so excited about this defense, even if they're not at this moment.