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View from the O-Zone: Not close to good


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Whatever the color, this didn't look good – quite the opposite, in fact.

Gold, mustard … whatever the Jaguars' uniform color, the on-field events in Music City Thursday night didn't even look close to good.

Titans 36, Jaguars 22. It was a fifth loss in seven games, and it wasn't that close.

It wasn't close to that close.

"I'm not making excuses – it was bad," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said after the Titans took a 27-0 first-half lead to quickly end the prime-time, nationally-televised Color Rush game in front of 61,619 at Nissan Stadium.

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson was asked if he was shocked by the outcome.

"Shocked, bewildered, behooved – whatever word you want to use," he said. "We didn't see it going like this. We thought we had a great week of preparation. This was a chance to kind of stay in the AFC South race and be right there.

"They have a good team over there. You can only give them credit. But we have to figure this out fast."

The Jaguars' season at 2-5 is not over because a struggling AFC South says it's not over. That's what the standings say, but standings seemed meaningless when watching Thursday unfold.

The Jaguars trailed 3-0 after a quarter. They trailed 27-0 after a second quarter that the Titans dominated to a staggering degree.

The Jaguars entered the game with a chance to right their season.

They left it with more questions than answers. That means the off-field noise about a variety of issues only gets louder – and it means that noise gained legitimacy. Bradley was asked by a reporter afterward if he expected to be the head coach when the team played its next game. He said he did.

The Jaguars could have silenced a lot of that noise Thursday. At the very least they could have minimized it for the 10 days between Thursday and next Sunday at Kansas City.

They did neither.

Instead, too many of the issues that have become season-long issues remained that way Thursday, and the result was a team three games under .500 after entering the season with vastly different hopes/expectations.

The Jaguars once again struggled at the start of the game. Their halftime deficit marked the sixth time in seven games they have trailed at the half. They haven't scored a first-possession touchdown since Week 2 of the 2015 season. They haven't scored a first-half touchdown since Week 4 in London.

They once again got struggling quarterback play, with quarterback Blake Bortles passing for 64 first-half yards and no touchdowns.

They once again struggled to run, finishing the first half with five rushing yards.

On Thursday, the Jaguars' struggling offense was joined by a defense that couldn't stop Tennessee. The result was a 354-60 total-yardage edge at halftime for the Titans at halftime. That's an edge of staggering proportion.

"I wish I could tell you what happened," Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said.

Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Mark was asked if it felt like a low point.

"I think it did," Marks said. "Our whole objective is to own the AFC South. We came out and played an AFC South team and they ran the ball down our damned throat."

Frustrating? Embarrassing?

"All of the above," Posluszny said.

Bortles sounded equally out of things to say.

"I don't know," Bortles said. "We have to do something different. It's tough for me to sit up here and answer for you guys. You guys know everything I'm going to say. I don't want to tell you the same stuff every week. It's difficult. It's frustrating to play a team on Thursday night on live television and they're bringing in the backup quarterback at the end of the third quarter. It's embarrassing."

Where does this leave the Jaguars? That's the question, and only time will tell the answers. Four seasons into this regime there hasn't been enough winning – particularly not this season – and only a serious, serious turnaround will produce a .500 record.

There will be more outside talk of change in the coming days. The talk will be about coaches and quarterbacks because that's what people talk about when teams struggle, and such changes often get made when results don't meet expectations. That talk is understandable, and at this point, it's legitimate.

Time will tell what happens on those fronts. That's where we are. That's what 2-5 brings.

The Jaguars could have avoided this situation. They could have avoided it by winning winnable games many times this season. They could have avoided it by playing better Thursday.

They didn't – not early this season and certainly not Thursday. And right now, whatever the color …

Well, whatever the color, things just don't look good.

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