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What we learned: Chargers 38, Jaguars 14


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 38-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, Sunday

1. The Jaguars still have growing up to do …Let's start What We Learned by looking for some overarching reasons why Chargers 38, Jaguars 14 happened. This was an unexpected result not so much because the Chargers won, but because it looked from the Jaguars' perspective like a complete backslide into many troublesome performances of the recent past. The Jaguars aren't as young as they once were, but they're still kind of young at some key areas, so maybe inexperience played a bit into it. Maybe.

2. … and some coming together to do, too.This is another possibility for what happened Sunday: newness. The Jaguars are still coming together defensively with a ton of new faces in new places, so perhaps some of the breakdowns that led to far too many explosive plays by San Diego were a result of that.  Maybe, but this game didn't really feel like that.

3. Blake Bortles still has some growing up to do.This may or may not have been Bortles' worst NFL performance, but it ranked with the most disappointing because of three first-half turnovers. One of his first-half interceptions was a throw behind wide receiver Marqise Lee and another was a bad decision to throw deep down the middle of the field into coverage. This loss wasn't all on the quarterback, but he must play better than he did early Sunday.

4. Bortles' pocket awareness still needs work.It has been an issue at times throughout Bortles' three seasons, and it was an issue on a second-quarter sack-fumble. Bortles has talked a lot about needing to make decisions to help his offensive line. Sunday's fumble was such a play.

5. Giveaways matter.The Jaguars' defense played poorly on the first drive Sunday, particularly against the run. But then the unit got a key stop and gave the ball back to the offense. A third-down interception led to a point-blank Chargers touchdown and a 14-0 San Diego lead – and the Jaguars never recovered. This offense needs to be a team strength. Key turnovers when the momentum hangs in the balance isn't playing like a strength.

6. Paul Posluszny shouldn't be covering wide receivers. The Jaguars' middle linebacker took blame for a touchdown on which he was covering wide receiver Travis Benjamin across the middle of the field. Linebacker Dan Skuta stepped in and told media to not let Posluszny take the blame for a middle linebacker covering the Chargers' fastest offensive player. A scheme with a middle linebacker covering a speed receiver is a decidedly difficult scheme to execute.

7. The West Coast thing is still a thing.The Jaguars never have won at Qualcomm Stadium and they haven't won on the West Coast since 2004. Traveling west is difficult, but it shouldn't be as difficult as the Jaguars have made it in recent seasons.

8. Philip Rivers is still a "thing," too.The Jaguars talked all week about the difficulty of defending the Chargers' veteran quarterback. They talked about his ability to get into good plays and make good decisions. Rivers beat the Jaguars in Jacksonville doing that last season and he beat them badly Sunday doing the same thing. The Jaguars really, really respect Rivers. He earned that respect Sunday.

9. Telvin Smith is playing well.A lot of talk among observers at the end of the preseason centered on rookie Myles Jack playing weak-side linebacker and reducing Smith's snaps. A reason that hasn't happened is Smith is playing too well to take off the field.

10. Myles Jack needs to play. The rookie second-round selection took his first regular-season defensive snaps late in the fourth quarter Sunday. The guess here is Jack isn't in the starting lineup at middle or weak-side backer soon, but considering the explosive plays allowed Sunday you have to figure coaches want to find a way for him to contribute somehow.

11. Explosive plays remain a concern …The Jaguars did a good job eliminating big plays in a Week 1 loss to Green Bay.  They allowed 11 plays of 10 or more yards on Sunday, including touchdown passes of 45 and 43 yards. That's too many big plays to have a chance to win.

12. … and penalties do, too.What was once a preseason blip is now unquestionably a trend. The Jaguars were penalized too much in the preseason, but what matters are 22 regular-season penalties for 172 yards in two games. The Jaguars were penalized 13 times for 93 yards on Sunday. Penalties weren't why the Jaguars lost Sunday, but they didn't help. Head Coach Gus Bradley's teams haven't been overly penalized during his tenure. That has changed so far this season.

13. Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler have a chance to make an early impact.The Jaguars' young pass rushers combined for three sacks, with Ngakoue registering one and Fowler registering two. Ngakoue's sack was a strip fumble that led to the Jaguars' lone takeaway. Fowler's came with the outcome largely decided, but the No. 3 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft had been struggling to get pressure, so a two-sack game was a good sign.

14. The urgency is growing.Sunday's loss makes next Sunday at home against Baltimore ultra-important. It's early to talk must-win games, but an 0-3 start after the optimism around this team heading into the season? That would be trouble. Big trouble.

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