JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 33-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday …
1.It’s time to stop talking about the postseason. The Jaguars aren’t eliminated from the postseason, but it’s time to stop talking playoffs until they win a game or two. Even then, it may be best to wait another week or so. Or maybe just stop altogether.
2.The season is on the brink. What a difference two weeks make. Remember? Heading to London against Houston before the bye? The Jaguars had a chance to get back into the postseason conversation. Had they won the last two games – against Houston and at Indianapolis – they would be 6-4 and alone in first place in the AFC South. Instead, they’re in last place and heading to Tennessee Sunday needing a lot of victories and a lot of improvement. Fast.
3.The run defense is a liability. … We were calling the run defense inconsistent last week. The Jaguars now have allowed 480 yards rushing in two games. That’s not inconsistent. That’s a major weakness that’s defining the season.
4. … a real liability. This is a big enough issue to merit mentioning twice. The NFL is a passing league, but defenses that can’t stop the run give their teams no chance to win because teams will run until you stop them.
5.The Jaguars miss Marcell Dareus. The veteran nose tackle’s absence isn’t the only reason for the run defense’s difficulties, but it doesn’t help.
6.The Jaguars must tackle better. As Head Coach Doug Marrone said immediately after Sunday’s loss, when a team runs for more than 200 yards it’s never just one thing that went wrong. Much of the issue Sunday was defenders getting out of gaps and some of the issue was players getting handled by a good Colts offensive line. But players such as linebacker Myles Jack and safety Ronnie Harrison – players who this team is depending upon to be team strengths – must tackle better than they did Sunday.
7.Nick Foles wasn’t the cure-all. The thought was the veteran quarterback’s presence would make the offensive line look better, and that his presence would help running back Leonard Fournette. It looked that way for a quarter. Then Foles and the rest of the offense struggled with Foles throwing at times into coverage and missing some throws when under pressure.
8.The middle of the field remains an issue. The inability to get tight ends or wide receivers involved in the middle of the field in the passing offense proved just as much of a problem with Foles as it had been with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II. The Jaguars got a touchdown early when wide receiver DJ Chark beat man coverage and turned a pass from Foles into a 34-yard touchdown. The Colts then went with a similar scheme to what multiple teams have used against the Jaguars in recent weeks: doubling the wide receivers outside with safety help against the deep pass. Because of the lack of threat in the middle of the field, the scheme stifled the offense. Again.
9.Tight end remains a deficiency. Jaguars tight ends caught two passes for 14 yards Sunday. The group has caught 11 passes for 97 yards since James O’Shaughnessy sustained a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 5. That’s less than 20 yards per game. That’s debilitating.
10.The Jaguars aren’t going back to Minshew. Marrone said following the game the plan is to stay with Foles moving forward. There’s no reason at this point to believe that plan will change.
11.The Jaguars must get Fournette involved. Fournette, the AFC’s leading rusher through eight games, has rushed for 63 yards in the last two games. He rushed just eight times Sunday. That likely wasn’t the plan, and running became impossible after halftime when the Colts quickly pulled away in the second half. Whatever the plan, and whatever the situation, the nine rushing attempts Sunday were the fewest in franchise history and the Jaguars won’t win with that approach.
12.Chark is good. There were few bright spots for the Jaguars Sunday. The second-year wide receiver was one of them. He had two more touchdown receptions and now has eight for the season with 796 yards receiving. He remains a bright spot in a season that’s getting dim elsewhere quickly.
13.The pass rush is still good. Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett passed 24 times Sunday. The Jaguars sacked him three times and pressured him on several others. That’s not a bad pass-rushing day, and rookie edge defender Josh Allen still looks like a future star. But the Jaguars didn’t create nearly enough pass rushing opportunities. You must stop the run to do that. The Jaguars obviously didn’t.
14.Josh Lambo is human. The kicker’s 46-yard miss snapped his franchise-record streak of 24 consecutive successful field goals. When things go bad, everything goes bad …
15.The Jaguars are struggling in the division. The loss to Indianapolis Sunday left them 1-3 in division games this season. They’re 2-8 against the South since winning it in 2017. It’s very difficult in the NFL to reach goals when you can’t win in the division.