JACKSONVILLE – Here's what we learned from the Jaguars' 24-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers at EverBank Field Sunday . . .
1. The Jaguars weren't good Sunday . . .That was obvious early, and except for a brief moment here and there, it stayed that way throughout. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley talked about it extensively late Sunday afternoon, saying that the team simply wasn't good in any of the areas of emphasis – enthusiasm, spirit, smart play, etc. This team has struggled a lot this season in a lot of areas. Sunday was a low point.
2. . . . and Bradley didn't hesitate to say it.Bradley has been criticized by some observers this season for being too positive after one-sided losses. Bradley's not going to change his approach completely. He has a young team to build, after all. But he sugarcoated nothing on Sunday. "We talk about getting better, and we completely missed an opportunity," Bradley said. "That's not what getting better looks like." He also said he saw a lack of effort. "I did not have them ready today," he said. "That's what's disappointing on my end. That one really hurts. That's not who we are."
3. Mike Brown can contribute.A lot of his yards came after the game was decided, but Brown – a first-year veteran wide receiver from Liberty – caught five passes for 120 yards for the first 100-yard game of his career. It came in a loss, but Brown's at the stage of his career in which he needs confidence and experience. He got a good dose of each Sunday.
4. Defenses know about Justin Blackmon.The second-year wide receiver came up big enough in his first two games this season – 19 receptions, 326 yards and a touchdown – that you figured defenses would start keying on him. The Chargers did just that, rolling coverages his way and double-teaming him in the red zone. He still had six receptions for 58 yards, but he wasn't the dominant force he had been in his first two weeks.
5. The quarterback situation isn't decided.Bradley hasn't committed to a starting quarterback, Chad Henne or Blaine Gabbert, either way in recent weeks. Sunday showed why. Not that Henne didn't have bright spots. He completed 23 of 36 passes for 318 yards, but was intercepted once and didn't throw a touchdown. The Jaguars' offense just hasn't performed well enough in any situation to commit to either player yet.
6. Cecil Shorts III was hurting.He didn't use the sprained SC joint as an excuse, and he blamed himself in large part for the loss because of two dropped passes that could have been touchdowns. That was a bit extreme, because those drops didn't cost the Jaguars the game, but it was clear watching Shorts in the postgame locker room that he was in pain. He played through it. Credit him for that.
7. Stopping the run is in issue . . .The Jaguars have struggled against the run much of the season, and a lot of the issue has been fits. They struggled again Sunday, allowing 158 yards rushing on 40 carries. Whatever the issue, it's hard to get teams off the field without getting them in third-and-long situations. It's hard to get them in third-and-long when they're running effectively.
8. . . . and so is the pass rush.The Jaguars have gotten decent pressure at times this season. And there were occasions on Sunday when Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was bothered. But it wasn't nearly enough. The Chargers converted 7 of 12 first downs, and were 6 of 6 in the first half. A lot of that came because of the lack of significant pressure on Rivers, who was sacked just once in 27 drop backs.
9. Philip Rivers is good.There was a ton of hype around the Jaguars going against Peyton Manning a week ago. There wasn't as much attention on Rivers, but he has been playing at a high level all season, and he did on Sunday, too. The Jaguars didn't make it as tough on him as they should have, but Rivers completed 22 of 26 passes and played with a calmness and poise that only the best possess.
10. The sack issue isn't fixed.The offensive line improved in Weeks Five and Six, surprising some because the improvement came in the wake of the trade of veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe and the subsequent injury to rookie left tackle Luke Joeckel. The line gave Henne time at times on Sunday, and there were long stretches of offensive efficiency. There were also six sacks, including two on consecutive plays that ended a first-half scoring threat.
11. The penalties are still hurting.Costly penalties and mental errors have been a recurring theme for the Jaguars lately, with defensive end Andre Branch's 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Denver a week ago leading to a touchdown. On Sunday, defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks' 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty turned third-and-30-something into a first down that led to the Chargers' second touchdown. The Jaguars have been talking about stopping such mistakes. They need to stop talking and start stopping.
12. The Jaguars need to play very well to win.This may seem obvious, but it's true. The Jaguars played poorly Sunday, and made too many mistakes. They're not a talented enough team do that and win. The Jaguars can win games this season. They just need to play a lot better than they did Sunday to do it.