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View from the O-Zone: Familiar task now lies ahead


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FOXBORO, Mass. – So, it turns out the Jaguars weren't quite ready for this.

That's not news, exactly, nor is it a huge surprise. We are, after all, talking about playing a dynastic, dastardly defending Super Bowl champion and doing it on the road.

That was the Jaguars' task on Sunday. This was the result:

New England Patriots 51, Jaguars 17.


"No one said it was going to be easy and fun," Head Coach Gus Bradley said after the Jaguars allowed scores on all nine Tom Brady-led possessions – not to mention 35 excruciatinglyprecise first downs.

"They said it was going to be hard and fun. We saw it today: That was hard."

Hard? Yes, if you're a Jaguars coach, supporter, player … Sunday was hard. Really hard.

It was frustrating and difficult enough that Bradley used the word "discouraging," though it was more in reference to his own decision-making than a blanket description of his feelings about this team.

The game in front of 66,829 at Gillette Stadium on a sun-splashed New England afternoon showed a lot about why the Patriots are really good – and why they could reach a second consecutive Super Bowl.

They're efficient. To use a word Bradley emphasized afterward, they're precise. They're well-coached. When opportunities arise, they act fast and make you hurt.

But this View from the O-Zone isn't about Brady or Gronk. That duo that can be summed up with "They're really good." It's not about the Jaguars' many injuries, either. It's about making some sense of Sunday, and providing perspective.

The obvious place to start is the Jaguars weren't remotely pleased.

"There's no doubt in anyone's mind we didn't show our best stuff today," Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said. "We didn't play good at any position, specifically offensively. I didn't play good. What makes this such a good locker room is the guys' ability to learn and to move on."

There were other quotes like that. Bortles spoke for many.

The moving on part comes next, of course. And one thing we do know is next Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts can't arrive soon enough, because all that makes a loss like this fade mercifully into the rear view is playing well the next week.

And there is the matter of the 1-2 Jaguars still being in first place in the AFC South entering that game …

Images of the Jaguars Week 3 matchup with the New England Patriots.


But those are future storylines. First, we must discuss Sunday.

What transpired at Gillette can't be called completely expected, because this team looked like it had taken a step forward with a victory over Miami last week. Few predicted a Jaguars victory Sunday, but the thoroughness of the Patriots' victory was disturbing. The inability to stop the run. More than 100 yards in penalties. The communication that allowed early big plays by the Patriots.

All hurt, as did a late first-half interception thrown by Bortles well beyond tight end Marcedes Lewis. The game didn't feel like a potential Jaguars victory at that point, but the touchdown drive that Brady immediately produced made it 20-3 at halftime instead of 13-6 or maybe 13-10.

It turned maybe, just maybe, into no way.

Defensive end Jared Odrick was insistent afterward that it not be viewed as a digression. He was then asked how to sell that in the wake of a 34-point loss.

"It's not anything we have to sell," Odrick said. "It's something we believe because of who we are as people, what this team is made of, the type of players and personalities we have, the type of leadership we have and the type of athletes we have. It's definitely a step forward. We can't look at is anything else. It's a long season. It's a process. We have to take this and learn from it."

If there was an underlying theme in the Jaguars' locker room, that was it.

"I don't think this game is going to define us," Bortles said. "I think it's how we respond to it and what we do next. We've got a group of guys who respond well to adversity."

Bradley agreed.

"This game does not validate us," Bradley said. "This outcome does not validate us. The journey validates us. This is one part of it and we need to learn from it and continue."

And you know what? After a day such as Sunday, there's no other approach. This territory is familiar for the Jaguars. They were here after a disappointing Week 1 loss to Carolina, and responded with a gritty victory over Miami. While it's territory the Jaguars soon must leave behind in this building process, perhaps familiarity will reap benefits this week.

The reality is you can't draw final, overarching conclusions about a team from how it plays against New England. The Patriots can make teams look worse than they really are, and they Jaguars absolutely believe that was the case Sunday.

Time will tell if they're right. Time will tell if Sunday's game is indicative, or another blip.

Either way, Sunday in Indianapolis can't arrive soon enough.

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