AN ISSUE OF CONVERSION
Blaine Gabbert took full responsibility.
Gabbert, the Jaguars' second-year quarterback, completed 7 of 19 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown in a 27-7 loss to the Texans at EverBank Field Sunday, but it was another number that concerned him more. The Jaguars went 0 for 9 on third downs.
That, Gabbert said, was unacceptable.
"That's awful and that falls back on my shoulders," Gabbert said. "I've got to do a better job on making plays when they need to be made."
The Jaguars finished the game with 117 total yards, and not converting on third downs was a huge factor in the offensive struggles, Gabbert said.
"Yeah you never want to shoot yourself in the foot," he said. "You've got to have some momentum, some continuity on those drives. We killed ourselves. Just a lack of execution, had a bunch of mental mistakes and we shot ourselves in the foot.
"You can't win football games in the NFL by doing that. Everybody has talent and when one side of the ball messes up the other team executes and capitalizes on it."
The Texans produced 411 yards offense, and while there were missed tackles at times by the Jaguars' defense, Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said much of the defense's problems could be traced to the offense.
"You can't keep them out there like that," Mularkey said. "At some point, they are going to get worn out and you are going to get sloppy tackling for the amount of time they were on the field. It is going to get sloppy."
PLAY OF THE GAME
For the Jaguars, big plays were rare on Sunday and even though the Texans scored 27 points, there weren't a slew of big plays on that side of the ball. Perhaps the biggest play of the game came during an early third-quarter surge during which the Jaguars showed energy and made a brief push to get back into the game. After the Jaguars forced a Texans punt, Mike Thomas returned it 18 yards to the Texans 37. Gabbert threw deep to wide receiver Laurent Robinson on the ensuing play, with Robinson making a reaching catch for a first down at the 5-yard line. As far as highlight plays for the Jaguars, that was the biggest, with Gabbert throwing five yards to Jones-Drew on the ensuing play.
The Texans pretty much controlled momentum from the start, moving easily on two first-quarter drives. The first ended with a 31-yard field goal by Shayne Graham and the second ended with a 1-yard run by running back Arian Foster. The Texans led 10-0 at the end of the quarter, and while Maurice Jones-Drew had 40 yards rushing, the Jaguars hadn't mounted a serious threat.
The Jaguars' troubles continued in the second quarter, with Gabbert continuing to struggle and the offense continuing to sputter. By halftime, the Texans had outgained the Jaguars, 242-43, and Houston had 14 first downs to four for the Jaguars. An 8-yard run by Ben Tate was Houston's lone touchdown in the quarter, but it gave the Texans a 17-0 lead.
The Jaguars' best stretch came early in the third quarter, with the defense making an early stop to set up the 5-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Jones-Drew. The Texans, though, regained momentum on the ensuing series with a 17-play, 80-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Tate. That made it 24-7, Texans.
The Texans controlled the quarter, forcing an early three-and-out then using 7:40 to drive 73 yards for a 37-yard field goal by Graham. That made it 27-7 with 7:20 remaining, and after J.J. Watt recovered a botched center exchange, the Jaguars did not regain possession.
"It was a great environment. I felt very good about these guys. I thought when we got done with meetings (Saturday) night and when we arrived this morning, I thought we were ready to play, play better. Some of those things were us making mistakes. There is no way you can overcome them when you are playing a good football team."
"It's the nature of the game in the NFL. You've got to bring your A-game every Sunday regardless of what happened the week before, and we didn't bring our A-game today."
"We just didn't give ourselves a chance. We didn't use our cadence to our advantage and to the best of our abilities. We didn't execute at all and that is myself and everybody down the line. We just didn't do a good job."
STAT OF THE GAME
The Texans outgained the Jaguars 242-43 in the first half, and no matter what happened after that, it was hard to overlook that statistic. The Jaguars were beat up on the offensive line and missing linebacker Daryl Smith, but the Texans completely overwhelmed Jacksonville early and could have led by more than the 17-0 halftime score.
OFFENSIVELY . . .
As Mularkey saw it, mental mistakes were a key early, with the Jaguars making too many mistakes and giving up too many opportunities. Aside from a short stretch in the third quarter, it never improved much, with Gabbert finishing 7-of-19 passing for 53 yards and one touchdown. Jones-Drew rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries, but with the offense setting a franchise record for fewest yards in a game, there wasn't much positive here.
DEFENSIVELY . . .
This one wasn't all on the offense. While the offense struggled, the defense allowed the Texans 28 first downs and 411 total yards. The Jaguars did not record a sack and Texans quarterback Matt Schaub completed 26 of 35 passes for 195 yards. The Texans controlled the game running, finishing with 216 yards and three touchdowns rushing on 48 carries. Foster rushed for 110 yards on 28 carries and Tate rushed for 74 yards on 12 carries.
It would be easy to say there was no turning point after the kickoff. The Texans were that good in the first half and the Jaguars never seriously threatened to take the lead or take control. But there was a point in the third quarter when the Jaguars threatened. Down 17-7 following their first touchdown, the Jaguars forced an incomplete pass on third down deep in Texans territory, but Jaguars rookie defensive end Andre Branch was called offsides on the play. A run by Foster converted a first down on the ensuing play, and the Texans turned the mistake into a 17-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 9:14. A 2-yard run by Ben Tate capped the drive and gave the Texans a 17-point lead.
There have been many steps forward in recent weeks and months, but for the first half, at least, this was a step back. Gabbert was 4 of 11 for 13 yards in the half, and although he was fine in the pocket and dealt well with pressure, there wasn't much life anywhere offensively. Credit Gabbert and the offense for taking advantage of an opportunity early in the third quarter with a quick touchdown drive to make it 17-7 Texans, but once the Texans turned in a nine-minute drive, the offense sputtered again with limited opportunities. All is not lost. Gabbert is still a young quarterback who will have stops and starts. This came against a very good defense in very difficult circumstances, but this was certainly a stop.
Gabbert left the game in the second half with a leg injury and did not return.
*A fan ran onto the field during the second half, and ran the length of the field and back before being apprehended by security guards. After the fan had run from one end zone to the other and back, Jaguars safety Dwight Lowery grabbed the man and guided him to a security official. "I thought security was supposed to be here to protect the fans and the people on the field playing," Lowery said. "He was running around and nobody was really doing anything. It's not really a good look for our city. We're trying to establish this place as somewhere that needs to be respected."
*Jaguars punter Bryan Anger punted nine times for a 51.3-yard average Sunday, finishing the game with a 42.8-yard net average. He also had three punts inside the 20 and his nine punts were one shy of the team's single-game record.
*Jones-Drew's 5-yard third-quarter touchdown reception gave him 75 career touchdowns. He joined Randy Moss, Tony Gonzales and Antonio Gates as the only active players with 75 or more touchdowns.
*Kicker Josh Scobee's extra point following Jones-Drew's touchdown gave him 765 points for his career. That moved him past Mike Hollis for the Jaguars franchise record for points scored.
The Jaguars will play the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday.
This wasn't pretty. There's no sugarcoating it, and there's obviously a lot that must get fixed. Teams often struggle under first-year coaches early, and this was a difficult matchup with the Jaguars injured in several areas that played into the Texans' strengths. The Jaguars continue to believe they are headed in the right direction, and one game doesn't define a season or a franchise, but this hurt and it will be critical to see how the Jaguars respond against the Colts Sunday.