HOUSTON, Texas – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 21-20 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday
- It just became time. That's probably the best explanation for the timing of Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's dismissal following a 21-20 loss to the Houston Texans Sunday. It certainly wasn't one December game or one squandered second-half lead that led to a move Jaguars Owner Shad Khan clearly did not want to make. And it certainly wasn't Bradley's 14-48 record since taking over as head coach in 2013; if this had been about overall record, the move would have been made long before. No, this was simply about a move that had to eventually be made being made now rather than later. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell will discuss the move Monday, which means the hours between Khan's post-game announcement regarding Bradley's future and Caldwell's meeting with the media will be filled with speculation about specifics and timing. It had seemed likely for several weeks that the Jaguars would be looking for a new head coach following the season, and the move indeed had taken on an air of inevitability in the weeks since a one-sided loss at Tennessee. The seven consecutive losses since all had been close, but largely has been the same story: too many opportunities lost, too many losses. It's too bad. Bradley is a good man and a better coach than his record indicates. But a 2-12 record in a season in which so much more was expected eventually led to Sunday's post-game news.
- Jalen Ramsey is the real deal. If we didn't know it before, Sunday showed beyond question that the rookie cornerback is an emerging star – and perhaps the Jaguars' best defensive player. Ramsey in the first half Sunday not only registered a momentum-turning interception – the first interception by a Jaguars cornerback this season – he forced a fumble with a tackle on running back Akeem Hunt on the first play of the Texans' next series. Ramsey later in the quarter defensed a 4th-and-1 fade pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Jaguars 1, a play that capped a goal-line stand that preserved what at the time was a 13-0 lead. On the next series, Ramsey stopped Hopkins short of the first down on a five-yard gain on third-and-6 from the Jaguars 27, a play that forced a field goal that made it 13-5 at halftime. If a defensive back has a memorable play or two in a gam, that's a good game. Ramsey had four in a half – and he may have been better on a second-half series that included a pass breakup on Hopkins in the end zone and a devastating hit on Hopkins that broke up a third-down pass. That's a game of a budding superstar.
- The offense has become crippling. It's difficult to think of another way to say it, but the Jaguars' offense – sporadic at best this season and struggling more often than not – continues to be the primary reason for the nine-game losing streak. That was perhaps never more true than Sunday. Although defensive players blamed themselves Sunday for not holding an eight-point halftime lead, the Jaguars once again couldn't piece together a big offensive drive when needed. Quarterback Blake Bortles had one of his worst games of the season, completing 12 of 36 passes for 92 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The Jaguars produced just 150 yards offense, including 65 in the second half. After wide receiver Marqise Lee's 100-yard third-quarter kickoff return, the Jaguars held a 12-point lead. The Jaguars had just 45 yards, three first downs and no points after that. To paraphrase Bortles afterward, that won't win many games.
- In Houston, they're calling this a come from behind win. It wasn't. It was a complete meltdown by an offense that went missing after the Blake Bortles touchdown run put them up 13-0. From that moment on, they gained on 52 yards the rest of the game. From that moment on, in the second quarter, they made only four first downs and possessed the football only 9:57 of the remaining 36:28. They took a 20-11 lead into the fourth quarter but ran only six plays for a net loss of two yards and held the ball for just 3:19 before the Texans took the lead with 2:56 to play. It looked from my perspective as if they were just trying to run out the clock and were not willing to accept a mistake that could steal the win from them. You can't win in the NFL by playing safe for an entire quarter. If you don't trust your quarterback, you have big problems.
- The defense created turnovers and field position that led to a 13-0, and it led to the Texans benching their 17-million-dollar quarterback. Tom Savage replaced Brock Osweiler mid-way through the second quarter and proceeded to make Osweiler look like a very expensive mistake. He picked the Jaguars apart for the rest of the game because his offensive line didn't let the Jaguars get near him. It seemed as if the defensive staff was backing off. They rarely sent more than four pass rushers after the back-up. They bent and bent and bent, and finally after spending most of the second half on the field they broke. People will point to the back-up quarterback, the total yards and the inability to get off the field, but if the Jags offense could have given them ANY help, they were playing at their highest level of the season through three quarters.
- Jalen Ramsey is a stud. The Texans finally moved DeAndre Hopkins to the slot to get him in the game. The fourth down pass he knocked away in the end zone is a play that maybe one or two other corners in this game can make against the length of the all pro wide out. He gave up one play to a little known back-up, and other than that, lived up to his billing. He is talented beyond the normal definitions and his upside is darn near straight up vertical. He is a transformational corner who when he gets a consistent pass rush will be a guy who takes away half the field. Ramsey is cocky and can be difficult to deal with in the locker room, but he's young and in all honesty... when you play like that...who cares? I don't have enough adjectives to give the rookie from Florida State his just due tonight.