JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 51-17 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, Sunday
1.The Jaguars must play well next week.The Jaguars are 1-2, so as bad as the loss to the Patriots looked and felt, it's too early to call Sunday at Indianapolis a must-win game. Still, it's darned sure a must play-well game. A lot of the good feeling of a Week 2 victory over Miami faded Sunday – pretty much all of it, actually. Remember how the Miami game made the season-opening loss to Carolina seem very far away? The Jaguars had that feeling again in a big way Sunday. A really big way.
2.The Jaguars are tied for first in the AFC South …We'll move onto this in what likely will be a brief What We Learned. There's only so much to learn from a game so one-sided, but the Jaguars are in first place in the division. That doesn't make Sunday better. Not even close. It does illustrate that all is not lost.
3. … and they still have a long way to go.There's no way around this one. The Jaguars' defense couldn't get the Patriots off the field and they couldn't really come close. The offense was a bit more effective, but not by much. There are a lot of reasons for what happened Sunday; injuries throughout the secondary certainly didn't help, but 51-17 isn't good any way or anyhow.
4.The Patriots are good …Really good.
5. … and you must cover Rob Gronkowski. Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny after the game said several things went wrong for the Jaguars' defense. Particularly bothersome was that miscommunication left the Patriots' Pro Bowl tight end essentially uncovered on at least one early play. Gronkowski is good enough to beat you if you cover him; uncovered he's pretty impossible to stop.
6.You gotta pressure Brady.The Jaguars opted to keep defenders back in coverage Sunday, respecting Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's ability against the blitz. The result was that the Jaguars sacked Brady twice. The result also was that he completed 33 of 42 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns. The result also was that all nine Patriots drives ended with scores. The Patriots also produced 35 first downs. Thirty-five.
Images of the Jaguars Week 3 matchup with the New England Patriots.
7.Allen Robinson is for real.Sunday's game won't be remembered as one of Robinson's best days because it won't be remembered as one of any Jaguars offensive players' best days. But Robinson for a second consecutive week showed impressive athleticism and winning ability on 50-50 balls. On a day without much to remember for the Jaguars, that was worth noting.
8.Marqise Lee is still fighting injuries …The Jaguars' second-year receiver had injury issues in the offseason. He had them in the preseason. Now, they're extending deeper into the regular season. After being downgraded from probable to questionable Saturday, Lee left the game with a hamstring injury Sunday. Stay tuned.
9. … and the secondary is, too.Safety Josh Evans left the game with a knee issue and safety Sergio Brown left with a calf issue. The extent of the injuries isn't yet known, but the Jaguars finished the game with Peyton Thompson and James Sample at safety. Sample is a rookie and Thompson was on the practice squad two weeks ago. That's a tough ask.
10.Injuries are hurting overall.This is obvious, and let's be clear: injuries didn't cost the Jaguars the game Sunday. But being without defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, running back Denard Robinson, defensive end Andre Branch, safety Johnathan Cyprien, Evans, Brown, tight end Julius Thomas, Lee, offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, cornerback Dwayne Gratz doesn't help.
11.The offensive line is improving. Mentioning this feels sort of wrong. Mentioning any positive after a 34-point loss feels wrong. But while the run-blocking still need to improve, the Jaguars' pass protection is clearly better. That's a good sign. Run blocking will come in time, but for now, the quarterback is usually staying upright.
12.Blake Bortles is still up and down.Bortles struggled at times in the regular-season opener, and improved dramatically in Week 2. He was OK in spots Sunday, but not nearly OK enough. His late first-half interception really hurt and led to a Patriots touchdown that turned the game's momentum permanently in the Patriots' favor. This is far from a write-Bortles-off entry, but after 16 NFL starts, it's clear he's still searching for consistency.