What we learned: Texans 20, Jaguars 7

Texans Jaguars Football
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller is run out of bounds by Jacksonville Jaguars strong safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned in the Jaguars' 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday

  1. The Jaguars no longer share first place … That's stunningly discouraging for a team that was 2-0 and 3-1 earlier this season, but that's reality. Remember? Week 3? The Jaguars had a chance to take a two-game lead in the AFC South. After Sunday, they no longer hold at least a share of the division lead for the first time since the end of the 2016 season.
  2. and they're actually in third place. The Jaguars entered Sunday with a chance to retake sole possession of first place. Instead, they're 0-2 at home in the division – and they're in third place because Tennessee (also 3-4) has the tiebreaker edge with a Week 3 head-to-head victory.
  3. The Jaguars have lost three consecutive games. That's the longest losing streak of Head Coach Doug Marrone's tenure and the longest since a nine-game losing streak in 2016.
  4. The Jaguars have major problems offensively. Yes, we mention this before the "quarterback thing" because the offensive problems aren't just a "quarterback thing."
  5. The Jaguars have a "quarterback thing." Marrone benched starting quarterback Blake Bortles for backup Cody Kessler 4:10 into the third quarter Sunday. This came after Bortles' second lost fumble of the game. Marrone said afterward the quarterback competition is open. He also said every position offensively is open. Stay tuned.
  6. Bortles is pressing. There are many issues with Bortles. The reality long has been he needs the offense playing well around him to be effective – and the lack of a running game is hurting him this season. But his two fumbles came when he was trying to scramble for first downs on third down. He said afterward he was trying to do too much. It was hard to blame the effort, but they were mistakes you can't make.
  7. The Jaguars will have serious decisions to make at quarterback soon. This will be a topic for the offseason, but it's worth mentioning in the short term. When a quarterback is benched in the regular season, it means uncertainty. And uncertainty is a major problem at quarterback. Bortles recovered from a similar situation last preseason to solidify his status. Coming back from this situation will be a far tougher task.
  8. The Jaguars aren't a running team anymore. It's time to put that description aside. The Jaguars late last season struggled to run despite finishing the season No. 1 in the NFL in rushing. The offseason storyline was that adding guard Andrew Norwell would enhance that. But injuries to running back Leonard Fournette, offensive tackle Cam Robinson, wide receiver Marqise Lee and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins – as well as the absence of a second "blocking" tight end and second power running back – have made it incorrect to call this team run-oriented. Perhaps the addition of Carlos Hyde via trade last week will help, but it may take more than the addition of one player to regain this offense's identity.
  9. The Jaguars are fighting again.Reports following Sunday's game were of players being separated in the postgame locker room. Frustration is to be expected following such a difficult loss. But it must be channeled.
  10. Sacksonville is no longer a thing. The Jaguars were a swarming, chaos-creating defense last season, registering 55 sacks. They have 15 this season, which is 20thin the NFL. A big reason for that is it's difficult to create pressure and sacks without a lead, which brings us to …
  11. The Jaguars have a first-half issue. The Jaguars have been outscored 57-0 in the last three first halves and have trailed 20-0, 24-0 and 13-0 in those halves. Wow.
  12. The defense isn't great right now. It's a good unit – and it played OK for the most part on Sunday. But this version of the Jaguars was built needing the defense to be great. And the offensive ineffectiveness further illustrates that need. The Texans ran far too easily on their touchdown drive late in the first half, and the result was a backbreaking 13-0 halftime lead. The Jaguars' defense isn't playing poorly, but this team needs greatness from the unit. That's not happening.
  13. Turnovers remain an issue. This was the focus for Marrone following Sunday's game – and with reason. The Jaguars entered the game with a minus-nine takeaway-giveaway ratio. They committed three turnovers and forced none Sunday, so they exited the game minus-12. They have 17 turnovers and have forced five this season. The Jaguars' winning formula last season was the top-ranked running game and a plus-10 takeaway-giveaway ratio. They're 23rdin the NFL in rushing this season and 31stin takeaway-giveaway ratio. Considering that, 3-4 isn't surprising.
  14. The Jaguars are in trouble. There's no other way to say it. This is a critical week – the toughest test Marrone has faced. That doesn't mean the team can't dig its way out of this hole. But there's lot of tough digging to be done.

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