JACKSONVILLE – This was a miss. A big miss.
That's how the Jaguars' 33-16 loss to the Oakland Raiders felt Sunday. That's how it felt, because that's what it was: a wonderful gift of a chance … a chance to right early-season wrongs, a chance to smile, a chance to shine.
That's what this game could have been. It wasn't.
Instead, the Jaguars' first game at EverBank Field in a month turned bad fast. It turned bad for quarterback Blake Bortles – again – and it turned bad again for the running game. It turned bad for the pass rush. Worse still: it turned unpoised and undisciplined.
When it was over, there was no smiling or shining in the Jaguars' locker room – just a lot of frustration and searching for answers.
"Obviously, very disappointed in what took place out there," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said after the Jaguars fell behind 20-6 at halftime and never again got to within 10 points.
Bradley wasn't alone.
"Pretty shocked and frustrated – all of the above," wide receiver Allen Hurns said.
Across the locker room, cornerback Prince Amukamara said, "I would hope this team is shocked by the performance."
And in one sense, it was shocking. Think of it:
When Sunday dawned there were no signs of a pending 17-point loss. The Jaguars had won back-to-back games. They were playing the NFL's 32nd-ranked defense, so this seemed to be a matchup in which the Jaguars' struggling offense could flourish.
The Jaguars, too, had motivation. This was a chance to put new perspective on the season, a chance to move to 3-3 after an 0-3 start, a chance to move to .500 in October for the first time since 2010.
All signs were good – and preparation this week was good, too.
"We said on Saturday, 'This was our best week of practice,''' Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "Everybody was locked in, completely squared away, on the job … and then that mess happens?"
What went so wrong so fast? The answers are many. The running game struggled as it has all season. Receivers dropped passes. Amukamara struggled to cover wide receiver Michael Crabtree and the pass rush got little pressure on quarterback Derek Carr. There also were some serious discipline/poise issues in the second half. And make no mistake: the discipline and composure issues were ugly and embarrassing.
"We lost our poise," Bradley said.
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson was penalized three times on one series; he was ejected after his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Wide receiver Marqise Lee was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, and rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey was ejected for fighting.
"As a professional in the NFL, that's not what it's supposed to look like by any means," Posluszny said. "That's what makes you mad. We're in the NFL. We need to have high standards for how we conduct ourselves at all times. …
"I've never seen anything like that before. That's unacceptable on a lot of different levels. Fans don't want to see that. You guys don't want to see it. We don't want to be a part of it."
Posluszny was asked if it was a sign that Bradley had "lost control" of the team.
"I don't think that's the case," Posluszny said. "I have a C [captain] on my chest. It's not going to be the case. As players, we're not going to allow it."
Yet, while all of that – the drops, the lack of poise, the lack of pass rush – will leave a nasty aftereffect, all those things feel like comparatively minor, fixable things.
That's the worrisome thing about the quarterback position. What's going on there doesn't feel minor, and so far it hasn't gotten fixed.
No, Bortles struggled again on Sunday – just as he has struggled in every game this season with the possible exception of the team's Week 4 victory over Indianapolis. He completed 23 of 43 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown, but this was not a good game for Bortles. He was intercepted twice. His first-quarter interception to Marqise Lee, as Bortles put it, was a combination of a bad throw and a bad decision, and he was inaccurate throughout the first half.
"I'm obviously not playing good," Bortles said. "I couldn't tell you. I wish I knew...I would fix it. It's just a continual thing and we will hopefully find a way to turn it around and solve some problems."
Bortles isn't all that's ailing the Jaguars. There was plenty that went wrong on a Sunday that felt much darker late in the afternoon than when it dawned, but it's the nature of the quarterbacking position that those struggles dwarf all others.
Until Bortles' issues get solved, this team's going to miss more chances to smile and more chances to shine.
And there are going to be a lot more post-game locker rooms with a lot of searching for answers.