JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 28-23 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Sunday
1.Close isn't close enough.OK, so we have been learning this all season. Once again, for a seventh time in eight games, the Jaguars were close in the fourth quarter with a real chance to win. Once again, a few plays were the difference. Once again …
2.Close isn't close enough, part II.Let's reiterate that: the Jaguars have had a chance to win seven games, but they only have won twice this season. The mood in the Jaguars locker room Sunday wasn't frustration/anger/despair; it was a real resolve. This team is getting close, close, closer and there's a strong feeling of being about to break through, but … gotta do it.
3.Blake Bortles is better …Bortles threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. This was far from his best game of the season, but against a fierce, relentless pass rush he stood in the pocket and helped the Jaguars get back in the game after a shaky start.
Images of the Jaguars Week 9 matchup with the New York Jets.
4. … and he is resilient …There was a time last season and early this season where one bad play was difficult for Bortles and this offense to overcome. Not so anymore. The Jaguars committed four turnovers on Sunday. That's a bad number; what wasn't bad was how Bortles and the offense continued to produce and get back in the game.
5. … and he still must mature.Bortles played with resiliency and guts throughout, and he had the Jaguars on the cusp of taking the lead in the fourth quarter. With the Jaguars facing first-and-20 at the Jets 20, he held the ball a touch too long when he could have run or thrown – and the result was a momentum-killing, game-changing sack/fumble. Credit Bortles for keeping his eyes downfield and extending the play; those things are what gives him a chance to be special. Still, the quicker he develops more awareness there the better.
6.This offense is better. Much better.The Jaguars produced 436 yards of offense against a very good Jets defense. It nearly won despite four turnovers. No, it wasn't enough, but if you can't see the future on offense you're not looking.
7.Allen Robinson is good and …The second-year receiver shook off an early drop and caught six passes for 121 yards. He also won a 50-50 ball in the fourth quarter that kept the Jaguars hopes alive. That's an impressive day for a young player who was covered by Darrelle Revis much of the game.
8. … so is Allen Hurns.How good has the second-year tandem been this season? Robinson is on pace for 80 receptions, 1,404 yards and 12 touchdowns; Hurns is on pace for 72 receptions, 1,270 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. For a team that hasn't had a 1,000-yard receiver in – gasp – 10 seasons, those are heady numbers.
9.The line still has shaky moments.The offensive line for the most part has been vastly improved from last season. The Jets' front was as tough a task as the line has faced this season – and the results against a blitz-oriented game plan were shaky at best, with Bortles being sacked six times and under pressure throughout.
10.Blake Bortles and Julius Thomas …well, the tandem just isn't working in tandem yet. Thomas missed the first four games of the season, and has 13 receptions for 116 yards in four games since. The 2015 free-agent tight end had three receptions for 14 yards – a 4.6-yards-per-reception average – on Sunday.
We set the scene at MetLife Stadium as the Jaguars prepare for their Week 9 matchup with the New York Jets.
11.The kid has guts.Kicker Jason Myers went 3-for-3 field goals and 2-for-2 extra points Sunday. His longest field goal was 45 yards, but considering his struggles in recent games – and considering the Jaguars worked out kickers just before the bye – credit Myers for playing big under some pressure.
12.Sen'Derrick Marks is getting back.The veteran defensive tackle showed flashes of quickness and penetrating ability in his third game back after offseason reconstructive knee surgery. He's not fully healthy, but he's quicker and the Jaguars absolutely missed his ability to make plays in the backfield.
13.The Jaguars' defense can stop the run …This stopped being a surprise a while back, but the run defense was big-time Sunday. Jets running back Chris Ivory is as physical as any running back the Jaguars have faced this season; in a dominant performance by the front seven, the Jaguars held him to 26 yards on 23 carries.
14. … but the pass rush remains an issue.The front got some pressure at a few key moments Sunday. Still, the Jaguars sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick just twice; the troubles getting pressure with four linemen weren't as pronounced, but they remained an issue.
15.The Jaguars are improved.Whatever else Sunday showed it showed that. The Jaguars fell behind a contending team 14-3 on the road and that opposing team had the ball at the 37-yard line with a chance to extend the lead. The Jaguars played toe-to-toe with the Jets pretty much the rest of the way – and outplayed them at times. Not enough to win, but enough for tangible – if frustrating – progress.