JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 24-21 loss to the Houston Texans at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …
1. The frustration is real …The Jaguars have lost four consecutive games – and unlike the first two games of that streak, the last two losses have been frustratingly close. The Jaguars' loss Sunday was their second in as many weeks in which they outgained a contending opponent – and the second in as many weeks in which they squandered opportunities to take a lead in the second half. The Jaguars continue to look for answers. So far, they haven't found many good ones.
2. … and the playoff talk is very much over.The talk honestly hadn't been very loud since a one-sided loss to Tennessee two weeks ago. For a while, it faded to a whisper. At 2-7? Well, at 2-7 there needn't be anymore postseason talk of any volume unless a miracle of all miracles happens – and miracles of that magnitude don't usually happen.
3. Jason Myers' leg is strong.OK, we've known this about the Jaguars' second-year kicker for a while, but Myers connected easily from 54 yards in the second quarter Sunday. How easily? That field goal would have been good from 65 or 70 yards – maybe longer.
4. The special teams are struggling.We've known this for a while, too. Three different Jaguars punt returners – Bryan Walters, Rashad Greene and Marqise Lee – lost fumbles in the three-week span that was Oakland/Tennessee/Kansas City. Now, the Jaguars have allowed a long punt return to set up points in each of the last two games. When the special teams allow points, it's bad. When the unit allows points on a regular basis, that's worse.
5. Malik Jackson was a good signing.This has been another season-long trend, but the veteran defensive tackle – an unrestricted free agent signee from Denver in the offseason – continues to be a disruptive force in pretty much every game.
6. Blake Bortles' struggles are continuing …Bortles completed 32 of 49 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns, but he also was intercepted once – and had a really bad pass that was ruled a lateral and a first-half lost fumble. He also missed Allen Hurns and Lee on deep passes that could have been touchdowns. Those sorts of plays are the difference in winning and losing in the NFL.
7. … and so are Dante Fowler Jr.'s.Fowler has ranked among the most-penalized players in the NFL all season, and Sunday's late hit out of bounds on Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler could have been very, very costly. Fowler's hit Osweiler wasn't egregious, but it was clearly a penalty – and Fowler's penalty tendency is clearly something that must be broken.
8. Johnathan Cyprien has improved.The fourth-year strong safety has taken a lot of criticism in his Jaguars career – some of it deserved. But he clearly has benefitted from focusing on being an in-the-box safety this season; his play, particularly against the run, has improved markedly.
9. Allen Robinson is still Allen Robinson … and for the Jaguars, that's a good thing. The third-year veteran had his first 100-yard game of the season and made diving reception after diving reception.
10. Marqise Lee is no longer a fluke.Not that Lee ever was a fluke, exactly, but it's time to stop wondering if he can stay healthy and fulfill his potential. He has been healthy for nine games and is showing he is what the Jaguars thought he was when they drafted him in the second round – a playmaking, big-play wide receiver with special speed and skills.
11. Turnovers are a real issue.The Jaguars haven't forced one in the last five games, and they now have a minus-14 turnover ratio for the season. Seen in that light, 2-7 isn't hard to explain.
12. The Jaguars still can't get a lead – and that makes winning really hard.The Jaguars haven't led since they beat Chicago, 17-16, in Week 6. That's a span that now covers four games. That has hurt the defense and has strained the offense. The Jaguars haven't scored an opening-series touchdown since Week 2 of 2015 and the situation was worsened Sunday when Bortles threw a first-drive interception that was returned for a touchdown. It's hard to win giving away points and putting yourself at a disadvantage so early in games.