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Sexton-Oehser quick thoughts: Texans 30, Jaguars 14

2020-10-11 - Quick Thoughts Thumbnail

Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday …

Oehser …

1.This loss was about an offense that didn't produce at key times. The Jaguars for a second consecutive week spent the post-game availabilities discussing missed opportunities and lack of execution. On Sunday, those elements rang true for an offense that again compiled decent statistics without enough points. And quarterback Gardner Minshew II had a second consecutive game that looked better statistically than it looked on the field. Minshew finished with 301 yards and two touchdowns, but the Jaguars failed to score on red-zone opportunities following Texans turnovers late in the second and third quarters. He also lost a fumble when sacked while trying to move in the pocket by Texans edge rusher Whitney Mercilus, a play that led to a Texans touchdown that ended the Jaguars' chances. There will be legitimate questions this week about the Jaguars getting away from running back James Robinson too early, but this game turned on those two scoreless possessions from point-blank range. As Head Coach Doug Marrone said afterward, this team must take advantage of such situations to win. The Jaguars didn't on Sunday. And therefore, they didn't.

2.It's fair to give this defense credit. Yes, the Texans team entered Sunday struggling offensively. But consider: The Jaguars entered the game having allowed 30-plus points in three consecutive games and were without defensive end Josh Allen, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback CJ Henderson – and the defense played strikingly well for three quarters and kept the Jaguars close during that span. Credit cornerback Sidney Jones for an interception and three other pass breakups – including one that created an interception by safety Jarrod Wilson that should have at least led to a field goal. Credit defensive end Dawuane Smoot with a sack and a pressure that forced Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to throw incomplete in the red zone to force a field goal. It's a commentary on how much this defense has struggled this season that 486 yards felt like an improved from previous weeks. But it felt that way Sunday, and the offense didn't take advantage.

3.The starting receivers are fun – and good. Remember? Before the 2019 season when the Jaguars' receivers were considered a weakness? No more. No. 1 receiver DJ Chark Jr. is rapidly developing into one of the NFL's better younger receivers and rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. on Sunday had a second consecutive impressive receiving game with seven receptions for 79 yards. They look like a very good – and entertaining – duo for the foreseeable future. And don't forget wide receiver Keelan Cole, who early this season has developed into a very good third receiver; his toe-drag reception gave the Jaguars a 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter and was his third touchdown this season. This team has multiple concerns moving forward. Finding big-time receivers doesn't appear to be among them.

Sexton …

1.Two take-aways, zero points. Two deep red-zone possessions, zero points. The offense wasted a chance at the end of the first half after Jones' interception and missed another late in the third quarter after Wilson's 47-yard interception return put them in point-blank range. Minshew didn't really threaten the Texans' defense, which is why the Jaguars removed James Robinson on third-and-goal at the end of the first half and put Shenault in his place. Then, on fourth down in the third quarter, they took the ball out of Minshew's hands and Robinson bobbled it. In both instances the Jaguars would have taken the lead with scores. If Minshew is going to be your guy, he must be able to convert in the red zone and in those clutch moments instead of trying to trick their way into the end zone.

2.Two turnovers, 14 points allowed. That's the difference between the two teams, one with an elite quarterback and the other without one. Watson took advantage of both Jacksonville fumbles and blew the game wide open.

3.The defense gave it their best effort. I wasn't sure the Jaguars would be anywhere close by the end of the first half when I learned that Allen, Jack and Henderson were all out. They did a nice job in the first half and held on into the third quarter, but eventually couldn't hold off Watson and wide receiver Brandin Cooks. The defense certainly did its part with those two interceptions and short-field opportunities and had the offense converted they might not have looked so helpless … but the offensive didn't convert, and the defense has now given up 30 or more points in four consecutive losses. This defense played better Sunday and they did it missing a top-shelf player on every level. They can play even better than they did Sunday when Allen, Jack and Henderson are cleared to return – but this team isn't going to win unless the offense delivers.

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