JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned in the Jaguars' 24-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday …
1.The Jaguars went oh-for-October. A Jaguars goal under Head Coach Doug Marrone is to win every quarter of the season; if you do that, you go at least 12-4 and are all-but assured of winning the division. They won the first quarter with a 3-1 record, but went without a victory in a disastrous, season-altering second quarter. Ouch.
2.The AFC South is getting away. The Jaguars haven't just lost four consecutive games; they have done so with the Houston Texans on a five-game winning streak. The result? What was once a two-game lead over Houston in the AFC South is now a two-game deficit with the Texans holding a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage because of a victory in Jacksonville in Week 7. Nothing good in that paragraph for the Jaguars.
3.The season is in trouble. It felt that way throughout October, but it really feels that way now. The Jaguars haven't scored a first-half touchdown since Week 4 against the Jets. They're making headlines with late-night off-field issues. They can't find their offensive identity. No one expected this to be the State of the Jaguars at their bye, but here they are.
4.The Jaguars' offensive issues are not all quarterback Blake Bortles … Bortles completed 24 of 41 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions – and he got little help Sunday. He was pressured throughout; the Eagles had four sacks and nine quarterback hurries. Jaguars receivers also continue to drop far too many passes. This game was an improvement over the last three games for Bortles, and improvement was needed.
5. … because drops by the wide receivers are happening too often … Marrone: "We're in a league where you're expected to throw and catch. If the ball gets in your hands, you're expected to catch it. Some players are good. You can see the ones on film, everyone knows. … Part of your job … that's what it is, catching the football…"
6. … but it certainly is some Blake Bortles. Bortles on Sunday had his usual struggles with accuracy at times, and he again failed to bring the Jaguars from behind given the opportunity in the fourth quarter. NFL quarterbacks sometimes must raise their team. Bortles has yet to show he can do that.
7.The offense is out of whack. What does "out of whack" mean? The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing last season, and their goal for the season was to be a more dominant running team. Injuries to not only running back Leonard Fournette, but a slew of players key to the run game have resulted in the Jaguars being ranked 25th in the in rushing midway through the season with 95.0 yards per game. That's down from 141.4 yards per game last season. That's out of whack.
8.The offense is out of whack, Part II. The Jaguars traded for running back Carlos Hyde in Week 7 and ran him just six times for 11 yards Sunday. Jaguars running backs rushed just eight times for 18 yards Sunday. That's out of whack.
9.The offensive line must improve. Marrone on the Jaguars running just twice in the second half Sunday: "A lot of it's the confidence; you have to have the confidence with the guys up front being able to do it." That's a telling quote from the head coach of a team that wants to run.
10.Kicker Josh Lambo is the midseason offensive Most Valuable Player. He has made 23 consecutive field goals, converting from 50, 57, 33 and 24 on Sunday. He is 12-of-12 this season. Who else would be offensive MVP?
11.Keelan Cole is struggling. The second-year receiver had a pair of drops in a loss to Houston last week. He lost a fumble on Sunday for a second time in three games, and Sunday's fumble cost the Jaguars a scoring opportunity in the final two minutes of the first half. It also led to the Eagles' first touchdown. You can't do that on a team trying to emphasize giveaway-takeaway ratio.
12.DJ Chark Jr. needs to be on the field. Yes, Chark had a key drop in the end zone in the fourth quarter, but he is showing flashes of what made him a second-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Cole and wide receiver Donte Moncrief are struggling, so perhaps a midseason bye is a time to work the rookie in more.
13.The defense is struggling against the run. Part of this is from not playing with leads. Teams run far more with a lead than coming from behind. Still, the Eagles averaged 4.8 yards a carry Sunday and the Jaguars allowed two runs of 15 or more yards in the second half. The defensive line could play better in this area, but linebackers are struggling with run fits at times. That's no way to keep the team in the game.
14.The cornerbacks are dwindling fast. As if the Jaguars needed another injury at corner, rookie undrafted free agent Quenton Meeks left Sunday's game with a second-half knee injury. Meeks had been playing well with two pass breakups and a near-interception. The Jaguars already had three corners out with injuries – All-Pro selection A.J. Bouye and nickel corners D.J. Hayden and Tyler Patmon.
15.The Jaguars needed this bye week. Boy, do they.