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View from the O-Zone: A disappointing wrap


JACKSONVILLE – Well, that's it. That's a wrap.

It wasn't a pretty wrap, and a 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans in front of 71,899 at NRG Stadium Sunday afternoon wasn't close to the wrap the Jaguars wanted for the 2015 season …

But it was a wrap nonetheless.

And while Sunday was perhaps some sort of beginning for the Texans, who officially clinched the 2015 AFC South Championship the Jaguars could have won – or at the very least, contended for – the day was something far different for the Jaguars.

Listless? Indicative? Fitting? Frustrating?

Yes, it was all of those things, but it sure wasn't pretty – and there sure will be no lingering good taste from the end of this season. Not after the last three regular-season games.

And darned sure not after Sunday.

"Obviously not the way we wanted to finish this season," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said.

That summed up the Jaguars' locker room after a third consecutive loss to end the season, a day that made the giddy playoff talk of November and early December seem long ago.

"It's unacceptable, and everybody who's going to be here needs to remember this feeling," wide receiver Allen Hurns.

Quarterback Blake Bortles, who set a franchise record for passing yards in a season, wasn't much into talking records, and celebration was far from his mind.

"Right now, it's pretty pointless," Bortles said of the record.

The end of a season always hurts if your team isn't planning a parade. It's the end of a season and goals weren't attained. That hurts.

Of course, for the Jaguars, it hurts because there's a touch of what might have been.

Yes, competitiveness was the goal this season and it was reached in a sense with 12 of 16 games decided in the fourth quarter. That's how the Jaguars played for the most part this season – competitively – but it's not how they finished. No, they finished the season uncompetitive in their final two games, and yeah … that part hurts.

The Jaguars were 4-6 at one point – and at that point, they had a very real chance at the AFC South title the Texans clinched Sunday. Instead, they lost five of their final six games in a flurry of missed opportunities, inconsistency and ineffective pass rushing. That hurts, too.

Sunday's performance hurt from the start. The offensive line – left tackle Luke Joeckel in particular – struggled, and the offense as a whole managed 215 total yards. There were scant few of the big plays that defined the offense all season, and you never had a feel that better was coming.

The defense? Again, a struggle. The Texans had 225 yards by halftime and finished with 402. The Jaguars' pass rush struggled again, and for a second consecutive week the run defense – so strong much of the season – allowed the opponent to control tempo.

All in all, the finale was one to forget. Quickly.

The good news for the Jaguars is this game will be forgotten in a few days and we'll be on to the offseason. And make no mistake:

Gameday images from the Jaguars Week 17 showdown with the Texans.

This is a critical offseason. We can't say it's The Most Important Offseason in Franchise History, because the Jaguars won't be acquiring a quarterback and anything that doesn't involve a quarterback is hard-pressed to be The Most Important Anything in the world of the NFL.

No, the Jaguars have their quarterback. Bortles must improve, and must reduce interceptions, but he's the guy. That much we know.

But this offseason is key for reasons beyond Bortles. The offensive line must improve, and this team must run better. The Texans drilled the Jaguars for eight sacks Sunday at least in part because the Jaguars had no threat of the run.

Defensively, General Manager David Caldwell must add pieces as effectively as he did on offense the past two seasons. Sen'Derrick Marks and Dante Fowler Jr. must be healthy and more pass rush outside those two players is needed. Rapidly.

The thought here is this team is more the team we saw in Weeks 1-15 than Weeks 17. It needs to be, because the last two weeks were rough. Real rough.

The guess here, too, is the Jaguars will be better next season. A better pass rush and a playmaking safety won't cure all that ails the Jaguars, but it sure can't hurt.

Those, of course, are topics for the coming weeks and months, and unfortunately, talk of the coming weeks and months mean the offseason is at hand. It shouldn't have been that way. Jaguars players know it, and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny put that knowledge into words in an almost-empty locker room late Sunday afternoon.

"This year was kind of about missed opportunities," Poluszny said. "The division was up and down, up for grabs, and we just didn't take full advantage of it."

Indeed it was. That's it. That's the summary. That's the bottom line.

And unfortunately, that's a wrap.

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