JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 19-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday
1.The Jaguars' offense is a big concern. This starts with the quarterback. While there were other concerns Sunday such as a running game that continues to struggle, Blake Bortles' early-season issues are defining the season through three games. Bortles threw three interceptions Sunday, bringing his season total to six. He also continued to struggle with pocket awareness and decision-making. The offense as a whole hit a groove in the second and third quarters with Bortles throwing touchdowns of three and 11 yards to wide receiver Allen Robinson, but the game was lost when the offense managed three points on three fourth-quarter possessions that began inside Ravens territory. This game was there for the taking. Offensive mistakes and inefficiency kept the Jaguars from taking it, and offensive mistakes and inefficiency begin with the quarterback.
2.Allen Robinson is big-time. The Jaguars' Pro Bowl wide receiver is dealing with more safety-over-the-top defense than was the case last season. That's to be expected following a 14-touchdown, 1,400-yard season in 2015. Robinson caught nine passes for 126 yards in the Jaguars' first two games, but with the Jaguars needing momentum on Sunday Robinson gave it to them. He finished the game with seven receptions for 57 yards and his touchdown receptions gave a struggling offense a go-to player when it really needed it.
3.The defense played winning football. This was of no solace to players afterward, but Sunday marked the first time this Jaguars defense looked like many expected it to look this season. The pass rush wasn't dominant, but it was more effective than the first two games. Malik Jackson got his first sack of the season and Yannick Ngakoue got his second. The defense also created two fourth-quarter takeaways – interceptions by safety Tashaun Gipson and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny that gave the Jaguars possession in Ravens territory while leading. Defensive players blamed themselves afterward for allowing the Ravens to drive for a late field goal, but the Ravens drove 20 yards for Justin Tucker's 54-yard game-winner after Jaguars kicker Jason Myers' 52-yarder was blocked. The Jaguars' defense struggled at times in the first two games. On Sunday, it played well enough to win.
- This one hurts….a lot…more than San Diego. The defense took the ball away from the Ravens and gave the Jags every chance to win the game in the final seven minutes. But a tipped ball interception and a blocked field goal ended both drives and gave Joe Flacco one last chance. The defense played well, Flacco ran for the only Ravens touchdown and the deep ball he's so effective at throwing wasn't a factor at all. Pressures and takeaways today created opportunities, but the offense failed to put it away at point blank range. The lack of a running game that could pound out positive yards and eat the clock is the culprit.
- Blake Bortles may need to return to San Diego on the bye week. I'm not Tom House, but I don't have to be a throwing expert to know that something isn't right. He missed Marqise Lee in the first quarter the moment the ball left his hand wobbling more like a punt than a pass. He put two in the dirt in the first half and continues to struggle with accuracy. Bortles has adopted a solid pre-game and pre-practice routine, but his mechanics look off and he isn't the strongest arm in the NFL. When his mechanics are good he is good. When his mechanics are not….he is not. There is too much football left to play to let this go, they need to figure it out in a hurry. House may need to make a House call to help Bortles regain his mechanical prowess.
- Luke Joeckel played well at left tackle. Terrell Suggs got two sacks, but one was when Bortles pulled the ball down and ran into his arms and another was late in the game when the quarterback was rolling out wide, buying time and no one got open to help. Joeckel talked all week about being ready to play, and today he was on a makeshift offensive line missing two of its' five starters. He's taken a lot of heat, but today he delivered. That's an important development with 13 games left to play.