TAMPA, Fla. – This one hurt. A lot.
This was bad. It was painful and discouraging. Among many other things, it was really hard to explain. Really, really hard.
Gus Bradley tried afterward, but mostly what you heard from the Jaguars' third-year head coach following a 38-31 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon was the same thing you heard from the Jaguars' locker room:
You heard frustration. You heard anger.
You heard players who know what's going on isn't right, and you heard a head coach who knows that, too.
What you heard from Bradley was notable because of his tone and because of his words. And when you listened to Bradley following a loss to the Buccaneers that felt a lot like earlier losses to the Colts and Panthers this season you knew you were listening to a coach who has just, plain had enough.
Enough of losing. Enough being close.
Enough missed opportunities.
Enough, enough, enough …
"It does not feel like the bottom, but it feels like something's wrong in how we play," Bradley said.
The Jaguars' errors and miscues came in bunches Sunday.
Running back Bernard Pierce blocked a Buccaneers player rather than making a tackle on a long first-half Buccaneers punt return. An interception thrown by Blake Bortles led to a Buccaneers first-half touchdown. A fumble by rookie running back Corey Grant resulted in a Buccaneers second-half defensive touchdown.
Those things led directly to 21 Buccaneers points.
Those things turn must-wins – and yes, Sunday was that – into why'd that-happens. They're things that make even the most positive head coaches understandably irritated in post-game news conferences.
"We have some things to clean up," Bradley said. "I talk about, 'Hey, we're after victory; we're after being our best.' That wasn't our best. That was unacceptable. That's the challenge. We have to dig deep and find out what these issues are and clean them up as soon as possible."
Bradley added, "If you ask everybody in that locker room coming into this game, I think everybody felt ready, but maybe there's a difference between being ready and being prepared – and we weren't prepared as well as we needed to be."
Bradley liked some things. The offense that has looked better this season continued to do so. And there were fleeting moments Sunday when this game had an exhilarating feel, like maybe the start of something rather than the continuation of something.
The Jaguars turned a 20-7 deficit into a 24-20 lead with 17 consecutive second- and third-quarter points. It wasn't perfection what the Jaguars showed us in the first two-and-a-half quarters, but a big-come-from-behind victory felt like what this team needed, and it sure felt possible.
It didn't happen because the Jaguars made the mistakes they've made too often this season, and that left the locker room as disappointed and angry as Bradley.
"Who goes to work and messed up every single thing and goes home to their family and is happy?" Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller said. "I don't know too many men who do that. This is our job to go out here and be on the details and do our job and to execute.
"So, yeah, it's frustrating, Yeah, I expect that from every single person on the team. There comes a point in time where you get upset and tired and it's on us to change that feeling and change the details on the field."
Bradley afterward said he hoped the loss shocked the Jaguars into fixing some issues.
"Everybody on the field that played today should be shocked," Miller said. "We lost a game that we felt like we had a chance. We had chances. It came down to a few plays, so it's frustrating."
Miller echoed the thoughts of many players, and echoed, too, what has been evident in recent weeks – that this season's frustration this season stems from a feeling of being close. In the past two seasons, the first two seasons of this Bradley/David Caldwell rebuild, the Jaguars more often than not were out of games in the second half – too young, too untalented, too whatever.
This year, the losses are close. This year, it's about mistakes.
Bradley after the game Sunday said he didn't regret a statement he made before the season that the Jaguars were built. He said he believes that, and believes in the players.
"We have enough good players in that locker room to do better than what we're doing on the field, today," Bradley said. "That's a fact."
Also frustrating Bradley Sunday was that the loss came in front of a Raymond James Stadium crowd that felt early on sort of like a Jaguars crowd. More than 2,000 members of the Bold City Brigade journeyed to Tampa, and they were only part of a colorful, noticeable Jaguars following. Bradley openly and animatedly acknowledged that they – like all Jaguars fans – deserved better.
Of that there is no question, and there was no question Sunday about the frustration, anger and general fed-up-ness of Bradley and Jaguars players. That frustration wasn't without merit, and Bradley was right saying it felt like something was wrong.
What is that something, exactly? That's hard to know.
Whatever it is it needs to get right. Because right now, close doesn't feel like nearly enough.