JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium Sunday
1.The season is over.OK, we knew this before, but the loss Sunday ended the Jaguars' season at 5-11. That's a two-game improvement over 2014. Was that enough? That's debatable, but that's what it was.
2.An opportunity was squandered this season.Debate all you want about whether or not the Jaguars should have won eight or nine games this season. The reality is they could have won a few more games than they ended up winning – and had they won those games they would have contended for the playoffs. A chance was there. They didn't take advantage.
3.The Jaguars will select No. 5 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.The Jaguars will select behind Tennessee, Cleveland, San Diego and Dallas. If they select there, will be the ninth consecutive season they have selected in the Top 10. Some of those years they have traded into the Top 10; other years they have earned the spot. But that's the number.
4.The Jaguars have needs at several spots on defense.This was evident before, but it remained clear Sunday: the Jaguars need pass rush help, and they need help at safety. They need speed all over the defense.
5.The Jaguars missed Sen'Derrick Marks and Dante Fowler Jr. …We can only assume they missed Fowler, because he has yet to play an NFL snap, but they really, really missed Marks' disruption on the interior. That was true against the pass, but it was perhaps equally true against the run as the season wore on. The Jaguars sacked Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer twice Sunday, but it didn't feel as if the Jaguars affected him that much.
6. …. and they missed Telvin Smith, too.You know he's fast when you watch him play. You also see the difference in speed in the defense when he's not on the field.
Gameday images from the Jaguars Week 17 showdown with the Texans.
7.Blake Bortles is a record-setter (a good thing) …The second-year quarterback finished the season with 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. Those are both franchise records and show the undeniable growth Bortles made in his second NFL season. His future appears bright indeed.
8. … and he's also a league leader (not a good thing).Bortles threw an NFL-high 18 interceptions this season, including two in the regular-season finale Sunday. One was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by Kareem Jackson. For all of his improvement, the next step is for Bortles to become more efficient. That means better completion percentage and it means fewer interceptions. Taking that step is a must.
9.Allen Robinson is the Jaguars' best player.He certainly finished the season that way, finishing the season with 80 receptions, 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. His touchdowns total and his 17.5-yards-per-reception average are franchise records. Here's hoping Robinson makes the Pro Bowl as an alternate. He's absolutely deserving.
10.The Jaguars miss T.J. Yeldon.The running game hadn't been as consistent as the Jaguars wanted all season. With Yeldon out the last three games with a knee injury, it was close to non-existent.
11.The interior of the line must improve. The guess here is the center position will be addressed in free agency, and the return of guard Brandon Linder next season should help. It better; the interior of the line got too little push in the run game all season.
12.The running game overall must improve.Much was made of the Jaguars' eight sacks allowed Sunday, and there's no question that's too many. But the Jaguars rushed for 32 yards on 14 carries and didn't remotely establish the threat of the run. When you run that poorly against pass rushers as good as Watt and Whitney Mercilus, constant pressure and a disrupted quarterback is the result.
13.Luke Joeckel must keep improving.The third-year tackle was bad Sunday. Really bad. He allowed four sacks, and it seemed like more at times. But that game was not indicative of his entire season, and Joeckel will not be replaced this offseason. Still, he has to keep improving. While Sunday was an outlier, he seems to have a bad play every couple of games. Fair or unfair, left tackles get judged on their bad plays more than their good ones.
14.Jason Myers finished strong.The rookie kicker made both of his field goals Sunday, and made his last 13 field goals on the season. He finished the season converting 26 of 30 field goals. Yes, he must work out his extra-point issues, but Myers got better as the season continued.
15.Marqise Lee needs to be on the field.He stayed healthy the second half of the season. Now, the Jaguars' offensive brain trust needs to figure out a way to get him involved in the game plan more. He's too talented and has too much big-play ability to play a limited role next season.
16.The Jaguars still can't rush the passer with four. We just felt obligated to mention this for old time's sake.
17.The season is over.On to the offseason …