JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 21-20 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday …
1. Gus Bradley isn't the Jaguars' head coach anymore …Jaguars Owner Shad Khan shortly after the loss announced Bradley's dismissal after three seasons and 14 games. He finished with an overall record of 14-48.
2. … and right now, that's about all we know on that front.Who will be the interim coach for the last two games of the season? What will be the direction of the coaching search? Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell will speak to the media Monday at 2 p.m. The interim coach will be announced then. As far as the direction of the coaching search? That will play out in the coming weeks.
3. It wasn't all coaching.Changing coaches won't fix all that is wrong with the Jaguars right now. There remain some areas that must dramatically improve, particularly on offense. And at pass rush. Speaking of which …
4. Pass rush is an issue.The Jaguars' inability to pressure with four down linemen has been an issue throughout the season. It remained one on Sunday. Pursuing a free-agent veteran pass rusher is a high-risk, low-reward proposition, but the lack of an experienced veteran who can provide consistent, reliable pressure of some sort has been glaring.
5. Quarterback is the big issue …Quarterback Blake Bortles completed 12 of 28 passes for 92 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. He did some good things early in the game – and probably should have had an early touchdown to wide receiver Marqise Lee on a non-interference call – but this feels like an offense that's limited in what it will try right now. It's not enough just to avoid mistakes as a quarterback. Plays must be made.
6. The offense struggles in the fourth quarter.It's probably fair to say the offense struggles in most quarters, particularly after Sunday's 150-yard performance. But the fourth-quarter performances have been glaring lately. The Jaguars on Sunday took possession five times after a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Lee gave them a 20-8 lead. They produced 45 yards and no points on the five possessions.
7. Turnover margin isn't everything.The Jaguars – after entering the game last in the NFL in turnover margin – won the turnover battle, 2-1, and lost the game. When you produce 150 yards of total offense anything is possible.
8. Special teams giveth …Lee's kickoff return for a touchdown was one of the Jaguars' most electric plays of the season, and it absolutely should have been the play that snapped the Jaguars' losing streak. It was not.
9. … but they still taketh away.A holding penalty on punt protection by Neal Sterling cost the Jaguars two first-half points. A penalty on wide receiver Arrelious Benn for running out of bounds on punt coverage cost the Jaguars a first down when it negated a running-into-the-punter penalty against the Texas. The Jaguars have given away way too many yards and points on special teams this season. It frankly has been unbelievable.
10. Marqise Lee is the Jaguars' best playmaker.He has been emerging as the best offensive player for much of the past month. After the 100-yard return Sunday … well, any play with Lee getting the ball is a good play for the Jaguars at this point.
11. Jalen Ramsey is good.How many ways are there to say it? Had the Jaguars won Sunday this would have been a game to remember for the Jaguars rookie. There were long stretches Sunday when he played cornerback at an elite level.
12. No, we mean Ramsey is really good.He not only had an interception, he defended five passes. He also forced a fumble and had the Jaguars' hit of the season when he separated wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from a third-down pass in the first half. The game wasn't without rookie mistakes for Ramsey, but that's the point: he's a rookie. His ceiling is very, very high – like, perennial All-Pro superstar high.
13. The fourth quarter is a problem for the defense, too.We've said it often this season, but it remained true Sunday: the Jaguars' defense is very much improved, but it has struggled to get off the field in crucial situations. That happened again Sunday when the defense allowed 10 fourth-quarter points. It's difficult to criticize the defense too much considering the Texans' last three drives covered 45, 58 and 52 yards, but the Jaguars would have won Sunday had the defense held the Texans out of the end zone on their final drive. They didn't. As a result …
14. The Jaguars now have lost nine consecutive games.That's a franchise single-season record. Sigh.