JACKSONVILLE – What We Learned from the Jaguars' 20-12 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday
1.The defense is good …We've been learning this all season, but we learned it again Sunday. Forget the league rankings. Forget the statistics. The Jaguars' defense is good. That was a good Ravens offense Sunday. It was also a Ravens offense that entered the game hot. It wasn't hot Sunday and the Jaguars' defense was the reason. The Jaguars took the run away, and gave up one touchdown drive. That's a winning effort.
2. … and the offense isn't.As Head Coach Gus Bradley said afterward, if the Jaguars had scored one touchdown – just one – that game Sunday is different. A lot different. The offense has two touchdowns in the last four games. You can't win that way, and young or not it's not good enough.
3.Sacks kill. Okay, we've been learning this all year in a big way, too – but eight sacks? Even to the Ravens dominant defensive front? Again you just can't win that way.
4.Blake Bortles is improving ... What?!!! But the Jaguars didn't win!! But he threw an interception!! Be frustrated with the result, but don't ignore progress. In the first half, he had several big-time throws and had an extended period where he played significantly better. That's the good Bortles news.
5. … but Bortles is still struggling.But you said he was improving!!! Can you improve and still struggle? As a rookie quarterback in the NFL you absolutely can. Yes, Bortles is indeed improving and he looked more comfortable early Sunday than he has since early in the season. But he still is struggling to learn when to throw balls away and he's still struggling in a lot of areas. His decision-making in the pocket hurt significantly Sunday. It would be surprising if he wasn't struggling but there's no question he is.
6.Looks can be deceiving.A glance at the stat sheet tells you the offensive line struggled. That's what eight sacks usually tell you, and the offensive line wasn't great Sunday. But it wasn't nearly as bad as that eight sacks number, either. Bortles has to get rid of the ball better. He just does.
7.Toby Gerhart can run.The veteran running back had his best game since signing with the Jaguars as a free agent in the offseason. He ran hard, broke tackles and was a big reason for some early offensive efficiency. Maybe foot/ankle injuries really do bother running backs after all.
8.Roy Miller is good.Sen'Derrick Marks gets the attention, but Miller is a huge reason the Jaguars have played some very good defense for some significant stretches this season. He was active all game Sunday. As usual.
9. The interior of the defense is good. We could list these guys off one by one and give them all their own What We Learned entry, but just say Miller, Marks, Ziggy Hood, Tyson Alualu, J.T. Thomas ... The guys responsible for playing big inside played really big Sunday.
10.Aaron Colvin is fast.Sunday may or may not have been Colvin's best game, but one play in the first half showed why the Jaguars love the rookie cornerback's potential. On the play, Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith caught a short pass. It was the kind of play Smith often turns into a big run-after-catch play. Instead, Colvin closed on Smith and tackled the veteran short of a first down. Colvin is instinctive and he can run. Good combination for a corner.
11.Drops kill. Just like sacks. Way too many by players such as Marcedes Lewis and Cecil Shorts III. Those are veterans and guys who need to make plays. And drops like that? They're way too hard to overcome.
12.The special teams struggles are real. Just when you thought the Jaguars had this punt-block stuff figured out they give up touchdown off a blocked punt. Fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou missed a block on Darian Stewart up the middle. It was a tricky play but you can't let that guy come free.
13.Allen Hurns can play. No Jaguars offensive player has been as consistent creating big plays this season. Shoot, no Jaguars offensive player has been close.
14.The Jaguars need turnovers to win. They got one Sunday and sort of got some others when they pulled off a successful onside kick and executed a fake punt for a first down. Those are sort of the same as turnovers and you have to take advantage of them. But right now the Jaguars actually need more than turnovers to win. They need to score off those turnovers. That's a lot to ask. Really, it's too much to ask.
15.The Jaguars are frustrated.If you heard the word once in Sunday's post-game locker room you heard it 10 or 20 times. The Jaguars playing well in spurts. They're closer. They played a good team tough again. All those things are real, but so is 2-12. When you do play better and do some good things and don't get results … yeah, darned right you are frustrated.