JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned in the Jaguars' 20-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
1.The Jaguars have lost six consecutive games. This was beyond imagination in September, but it's painfully true. The Jaguars were 3-1 after a Week 4 victory over the New York Jets. They haven't won since. They're also deep in last place in the AFC South – four games behind the division-leading Houston Texans (7-3) and two games behind both the Tennessee Titans (5-5) and Indianapolis Colts (5-5).
2.The playoffs are essentially out of the question. The Jaguars aren't mathematically eliminated from the postseason, but mathematics are all that's left.
3.Running back Leonard Fournette is fully healthy … He didn't look as if he ran with confidence at times last week in a loss to Indianapolis. He definitely looked 100 percent Sunday for much of the game.
4. … and a healthy Fournette matters. Fournette last week made a difference against the Colts – his first game back after missing four consecutive games with a hamstring injury. He made a big difference against the Steelers, rushing for a season-high 95 yards on 28 carries and catching two more passes for 46 yards. You may not like the Jaguars' offensive approach, but Fournette's presence is a real boost.
5.Carlos Hyde can be a factor. The reserve running back had his most productive game since joining the team in an October trade: 44 yards on eight carries. He could play his way into more carries.
6.The passing game is broken. There's so much wrong here it's difficult to discuss just one element, but the Jaguars passed for just 104 yards Sunday. More damaging: the passing game was completely ineffective in a fourth quarter in which the Jaguars failed to convert a first down on four possessions.
7.Blake Bortles is struggling … Bortles completed 10 of 18 passes Sunday without a touchdown pass. He didn't throw an interception for a fourth consecutive game, but he was inaccurate downfield early and rarely looked downfield in the second half. This was a problem late in the game: When you can't trust the quarterback, it's a problem.
8. … but he's not alone … A reason Bortles didn't look downfield much in the second half: He rarely had time to look downfield. He was sacked six times, a number that might have been higher had Bortles not averted multiple sacks. This was a problem late, too: When you can't trust the offensive line, it's a problem.
9. ... and the receivers are struggling, too. Jaguars receivers caught five passes for 45 yards Sunday. Bortles wasn't getting them the ball much of the game, but there were too many plays when receivers weren't open, too. This was a problem late, too: When you can't trust the wide receivers, it's a problem.
10.The Jaguars still miss Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The injures that have plagued the offense this season are well-documented, but the absence of a viable tight-end option in the passing game continues to stand out. Jaguars tight ends caught one pass for four yards Sunday. That's not how this offense was designed.
11.Jalen Ramsey is outrageously good. The Jaguars' All-Pro cornerback had two of the most remarkable, highlight-reel interceptions you will ever see Sunday. The shame of Sunday was that the Jaguars loss means a game that should have been remembered for Ramsey having one of the great defensive games in franchise history will be remembered for a miserable offensive performance that allowed a Steelers comeback that never should have happened.
12.Ramsey deserves credit. Not only did Ramsey have one of the best games of his career, he did it in difficult circumstances: An ESPN report late Sunday morning that he could be traded in the offseason, a difficult game against the Indianapolis Colts the week before. Is Ramsey a distraction at times? Yes. Is he worth the issues? Absolutely.
13.Injuries have caught up with the offensive line. This has been true to varying degrees for much of the last month. The line at game's end Sunday: right tackle Jermey Parnell, right guard Chris Reed, center Tyler Shatley, left guard Andrew Norwell, left tackle Ereck Flowers. Parnell and Norwell are the only Week 1 starters in that group, and Flowers wasn't on the team in September.
14.Abry Jones and Marcell Dareus are the starting defensive tackles. Dareus moved from nose tackle to three-technique Sunday, starting there ahead of Malik Jackson. Jones, previously the backup nose tackle, moved into the starting role.
15.Josh Lambo is still good. The Jaguars' kicker is 17 of 18 on field goals this season, with his lone miss from 52 yards. Remarkable.
16.The fight remains. This wasn't a team that had quit Sunday. It hasn't been a team that has quit this season. Head Coach Doug Marrone talked all week about the need to a be pro despite dwindling playoff hopes. The team responded with an effort that wasn't quite good enough. That will make no one around the Jaguars feel better about Sunday's outcome, but it remains true.