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View from the O-Zone: Seeking answers again


They looked for answers, again.

And once again, those answers came hard. If this felt like a theme around the Jaguars a week ago, it sure remained so late Sunday afternoon.

Houston Texans 30, Jaguars 14.

That was the final at NRG Stadium in Houston Sunday. It was a game that for three encouraging quarters felt different, but one that ended very much the same – a fourth consecutive loss after a season-opening victory that now feels like a long time ago.

Was there a theme, quarterback Gardner Minshew II was asked – a thread through the four losses?

Can what's going wrong get fixed?

"I don't know," Minshew said moments after the Jaguars' third consecutive loss by eight or more points – a three-game stretch that followed a 27-20 Week 1 victory over Indianapolis and a 33-30 last-second loss at preseason AFC South favorite Tennessee.

"That's a good question. We were actually just talking about that in the locker room, trying to figure out what it is, what's missing – because we have moments where we feel really good about it, moments that it just all goes to (expletive) … kind of.

"We just got to figure out how to be more consistent and keep moving forward."

The word "consistency" has been said often around the Jaguars in recent weeks. You hear talk of execution and missed opportunities, too – and Head Coach Doug Marrone talked about both often late Sunday afternoon.

"There's opportunities out there that we didn't take advantage of and that's why we came out with the loss," Marrone said.

Sunday was a game when the Jaguars had more than their share of chances, and an outmanned defense absolutely was scrappy enough for Sunday to have been a feel-good victory.

A lack of offensive execution absolutely made this one the Jaguars will regret.

"We want to be one of the best in the league in the red zone and we got to earn that week-in, week-out," Minshew said. "We didn't do that today."

Indeed, if there was a theme Sunday, that was it. The Jaguars didn't play near perfectly. This is a young team that realistically won't play close to perfectly this season. It must scrap and get breaks to win. It was going to have a small margin for error. Injuries in recent weeks have narrowed the margin.

But the Jaguars for three quarters Sunday played remarkably well on defense considering the circumstances. This defense had allowed 30 points in three consecutive games. It had struggled mightily the last two, and entered Sunday without defensive end Josh Allen, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback CJ Henderson.

Yet, the Jaguars' defense did what it had to do Sunday – and did what many fairly doubted it could to. It didn't stifle a struggling Texans offense, but it made key plays to keep the Jaguars in the game.

And it made plays that could have defined the game.

Cornerback Sidney Jones, who would have been the game's star had the Jaguars won, intercepted Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson late in the first half. This set up a scoring opportunity that was wasted when kicker Stephen Hauschka was short from 49 yards on the final play of the half. Making that moment more frustrating was Hauschka missing from 24 yards on the series before.

"He said he just didn't have any pop in his leg," Marrone of Hauschka.

Jones created a second opportunity in the third quarter, deflecting a pass that safety Jarrod Wilson returned 47 yards to the Texans 27. That drive ended when running back James Robinson fumbled on 4th-and-1 from the Texans 8, a play on which Robinson had taken a direct snap from center and was attempting to pass.

The Texans drove 90 yards on the ensuing possession, taking a lead 20-7 lead when Watson passed 19 yards to wide receiver Will Fuller.

Two point-blank opportunities. No points. The game's key moments had come and gone. The Jaguars pulled to within 20-14 on the next possession, but the Texans immediately converted a field goal that pushed the lead to nine and it never felt close again.

"When you have a time where you have the situations like we have had, especially after the turnovers or having the ball down there on the two- or three-yard line, you got to turn those into points," Marrone said. "We weren't able to do that, so that's on all of us."

So, was there a theme? Can this thing get turned around?

"I don't know," Minshew said. "That's a great question. It's something we ask ourselves every week. We're going to have to go in and look at the film. I know it's a broken record, and trust me, we feel the same. But we just got to look in the mirror, re-evaluate and just find a way to win."

Yes, Sunday was familiar. So was the post-game theme. And unfortunately for the Jaguars, good answers continue to be hard to find.

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