JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 28-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York, Sunday …
*1. The season is getting weirder … *The Jaguars have lost six consecutive games, but the weird thing is how the last four have played out. The Jaguars outgained Kansas City, Houston and Detroit. They came within three yards of outgaining the Bills and dominated the first half. All of those teams were good, contending teams … and still, the Jaguars lost on Sunday. Again.
2. ... and staying frustrating.So very, very, very frustrating.
3. The offense struggles in big moments.The Jaguars a week ago in Detroit had possession twice in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. They had the ball twice in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie twice Sunday. They were scoreless in those scenarios against Detroit and scoreless against Buffalo. You win in the NFL by scoring in big moments.
4. Blake Bortles is effective when running.Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has been encouraging Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles to be more decisive – i.e., to make his reads, then run if the play is not there. That's starting to show more on the field, and Bortles decisively ran eight times for 81 yards Sunday.
5. The Jaguars need Chris Ivory.The Jaguars' running game showed signs of controlling the game early – mostly because Ivory was running with authority and power. When he left the game with a hamstring injury, the Jaguars' running game became more about Bortles than the backs.
6. The Jaguars' defense can be very, very good …The defense in the first half against Buffalo turned in a dominant performance. The Bills couldn't run. They couldn't throw. They managed 63 total yards, 25 rushing. The Jaguars looked fast, aggressive and hungry. It was impressive.
7. … but it still isn't dominant …The Jaguars allowed the Bills 167 yards on 50 plays. That was great, but they also allowed 137 yards on two others. The NFL is a big-play league. The Jaguars lost on Sunday because they allowed two of them.
8. … and still needs to learn to finish.The Jaguars' defense allowed the Lions an eight-minute, game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter a week ago. They allowed Buffalo to run out the clock with two first downs in the final 3:25 on Sunday. You must get the ball back in that situation.
9. Allen Robinson still isn't getting all the calls.This is as nice a way as possible to say the officials just mi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ight have missed a pass-interference call late in the game when Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore m-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ight have held Robinson's jersey. Robinson has been contacted a lot by defenders before the arrival of passes in the last couple of years. Sometimes it's acknowledged. Other times …
10. Telvin Smith is good …and that doesn't really do Smith justice. When the Jaguars' defense was dominating early, Smith was chasing down quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy. He has turned himself into a reliable core player and is a huge reason this defense is emerging as a clear team strength.
11. Smith and Paul Posluszny are having Pro Bowl seasons.The Jaguars' record will hurt this duo when it comes to preseason honors, but Smith and Posluszny have played at an extraordinarily high level all season. This was particularly true in the first half against Buffalo – and really, it was true throughout the game.
12. Marqise Lee is getting better and better.It has been suggested that the third-year wide receiver may be developing into the Jaguars' best offensive player. That suggestion seems less and less silly by the week.
13. Malik Jackson was a good signing.Jackson had two sacks Sunday. Those were a season-high, but the fifth-year veteran has played at a high level all season. Not all players who sign as unrestricted free agents fulfill expectations. Jackson has done so on a strikingly consistent basis.
14. The Jaguars will finish under .500.Sunday's loss dropped the Jaguars to 2-9. That means a sixth consecutive losing season, the fourth such season under Head Coach Gus Bradley. Sigh.