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View from the O-Zone: Same bad feeling


JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley tried to sum it up:

 "Obviously, the game didn't play out like we hoped," the Jaguars' head coach said.

The quarterback was more succinct.

Asked if a 31-20 loss to the Houston Texans at EverBank Field hurt worse than the Jaguars' other four losses this season, Blake Bortles answered simply.

"No, they all suck equally," he said.

There was much more to the Jaguars' post-game Sunday. And we'll get into a lot about what Bradley said turned a 14-10 fourth-quarter lead into another dark Sunday, but credit Bortles with summing up the frustration around this team right now.

What the young quarterback said is accurate.

This is hard. This is frustrating.

There has been a bad feeling too often after Jaguars games this season, and Sunday's homecoming after a three-game, three-loss road swing was more of the same. They're all hard. As Bortles said, they all suck. Pretty much equally so.

That has players and coaches emotional – not just Bortles. You could see that emotion everywhere late Sunday.

You could see it as Bradley tried to explain a fourth quarter in which the Texans scored 21 points in a lightning-fast three minutes, 25 seconds. That's how fast a competitive game in which the Jaguars had momentum turned into an all-too-familiar story.

Bradley started his press conference talking about the Jaguars pressing too much, particularly during that critical fourth-quarter stretch. He returned to that theme often, and was asked halfway through his post-game press conference if it was hard to not press after four consecutive losses.

"I guess obviously it's really hard because we did it," Bradley said. "We did press, so I think the team's got to recognize that. … I think that this game they pressed more. They tried to make plays, tried to make something happen …"

Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny saw the same thing, and you saw the same emotion – the same frustration – in the veteran as he spoke long after the game.

Was there pressing? Was there trying to hard? Was that leading to mistakes?

Yes, Posluszny said, that was very possible.

"You know how it is," Posluszny said. "We're in a tough fight, guys want to do their best, they want to make the play to help the team win … it's a fine line between doing your job and trying to do more to where it becomes detrimental. I know that's the thing we have to be very careful of.

"Everybody's got to do your job, trust each other and it will be OK as opposed to, 'Let me take a shot here and see if I can make a play.'''

Posluszny was asked if this game, this performance, this loss, surprised him.

"Yeah," he said. "Going into this game we felt like this was going to be an opportunity for us to get back on track. We felt like we were going to play fundamentally sound defensively, that the offense was going to score some points. We felt like we should be able to play at a high level. We did, then there were a couple of plays that don't go our way, that we don't bounce back from."

Posluszny paused.

"It kills you to say, 'we should have won this game, and we should have done this,''' Posluszny said. "It drives you nuts, because that doesn't help anybody. But we feel like we're so close to being a really solid team record-wise. We have to find a way to get over that hump and win these games we should be able to win."

We could quote a lot of other players here. We could talk more about Bortles' frustration, and we could tell you about defensive Roy Miller staring in frustration and wanting to put it into words. Those things were real Sunday, and the frustration and want-to is real. This team didn't quit Sunday.

It hasn't quit on the season. Not even close.

Bradley's point? That the players sensed a chance at victory in the fourth quarter – and perhaps on an individual basis tried too hard to make the big play to guarantee it?

Was this a team trying just a touch too hard at a time when pressing was the wrong thing?

Sure. Very possibly.

At the same time, Posluszny summed up the feeling of a lot of players when he said it drives you nuts at this point – at 1-5 – to talk about "a play here or a play there …" At 1-5, you can't talk about being close. One-and-five is reality, and one-and-five is hard and frustrating and disappointing.

Could the Jaguars be a lot better? Could they be 3-3 or 4-2?

Sure, if a whole lot went right, they could be that.

But right now, they're not. Maybe it's because they're pressing, or maybe it's because they're young. Whatever the reason, the losses continue – and so does the noise around the team, about the future, about the direction of the franchise. When you're 1-5, there's going to be noise.

That noise undoubtedly will get louder this week, and the only way to quiet is to win.

That's been the story far more often than not this season, and it remains the story. The team needs to grow up in a hurry.

Until it does, days such as Sunday will be all-too common. The noise and frustration will become all-too real.

Images from the Jaguars Week 6 matchup with the Houston Texans.

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