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View from the O-Zone: No answers

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JACKSONVILLE – This wasn't a night for answers.

There were plenty of questions around TIAA Bank Field early Sunday evening, though – and all were legitimate and fair.

The Jaguars lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 45-10, Sunday. When you lose that way at home – when you're uncompetitive in the second half for a fifth consecutive game – all questions are legitimate and fair. What went wrong? How did this happen? Again?

"We got whipped; simple as that," Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said in a quiet home locker room.

You know what? It really was that simple.

The Jaguars led 3-0 before allowing points on seven of eight possessions. The Chargers led 24-3 at halftime and 38-10 after three quarters. One statistic told the story: 525-252. That was the Chargers' total-yardage advantage. This one never felt close, and it was obvious early that Minshew Mania wouldn't come close to solving all that ails this team. Not on this day, at least.

Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II, having replaced Nick Foles as the starter this week, led the Jaguars to that early field goal Sunday. But he was ineffective after that, completing 24 of 37 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown that came with the game long since decided.

Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, had been 4-4 as a starter replacing Foles early in the season. But Minshew Magic seemed a long time ago Sunday, and listening to Head Coach Doug Marrone at the postgame podium Sunday it was hard to remember the Jaguars this season were once 4-4 and contending for a playoff appearance.

"Like I told the players, I'm responsible for wins and losses – that's on me," Marrone said. "We made too many mistakes. There were mistakes all over the place.

"That's on coaches, players and everyone."

Marrone spoke more. As often is the case after losses, he cited himself and coaches. He cited players, too.

"Obviously, it was a poor performance all around," Marrone said. "It starts with me and the coaches, and obviously our on-field performance."

For fans wanting to know the No. 1 question – how did this team go from 4-4 to 4-9? – that's not a great answer. But in fairness to Marrone, there are no terrific answers in this situation.

He's right on one thing, though:

When you lose as the Jaguars did Sunday – and when you lose five consecutive games by a cumulative 174-57 – it is "on" everyone. Coaches. Players. Front office. You name it. All have a hand in these sorts of things.

How rough was this one?

Rough enough that even Campbell, defensive captain and a pillar of positivity, called the game "eye-opening" and admitted he was "at a loss for words." Always classy, Campbell searched anyway.

He talked of the Jaguars being a young, and gaining from the experience. He talked, too, about not giving up, about coming to work Monday and fighting. He also was honest when assessing the performance.

"This one here, this was bad," he said.

As happens in these situations, Campbell was asked if he believed the Jaguars showed effort throughout the game. As players do, Campbell said absolutely.

"The effort was there," he said. "It's never been an effort thing. Guys are frustrated. We got beat. We got beat. I don't question anybody's effort. Ever. These guys come out here, work hard and give everything they've got. It was just bad."

As Marrone had moments earlier, Campbell pointed the finger at himself.

"It hurts," he said. "As a captain, it's a reflection of me. I have to do a better job."

It was that kind of game, and it has been that kind of six weeks. It was this kind of game, too: running back Leonard Fournette speaking openly and honestly about the difficulty of losing as much and as badly as the Jaguars have lost in recent weeks.

"Don't get me wrong: there are days that I am upset, mad as hell, but just trying to finish the season on a positive note," Fournette said. "If that's coming in and try to spark some energy for the team during the week, just getting prepared for the game, whatever it takes …

"It's hard. You have to try to put your emotions to the side, also your pride too – because we are all men in here. I know as far as for me, I hate losing so it's difficult for me to come in here and fake it like everything is all good when it's not. I think it's a part of growing too."

Fournette spoke for a long time afterward, and he spoke emotionally. He talked longer than he usually does after a game, searching for the right explanation, the right way to put the difficulty in perspective. In the end, it seemed he – like most around the Jaguars – had no answers, only a lot of frustration.

It has been that kind of season. And Sunday was that kind of day.

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