JACKSONVILLE – What We Learned from the Jaguars' 27-13 loss to the Houston Texans at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
1.New things to learn are scarce.We'll lead this week's What We Learned with this thought – that there really wasn't too much new in the Jaguars' 27-13 loss to Houston Sunday. And really, that's not all that surprising for a 2-11 team. The same themes ring true. The offensive line must improve. The team overall must be more consistent. A young team has to grow up. All of those things contributed Sunday – as they have all season.
2.Momentum is fleeting.It sure was for the Jaguars. They had it after a 25-24 victory over the New York Giants last week. They had as much as is possible for a 2-10 team, anyway. Just like that, it was gone.
3.The game has two halves.We sure didn't learn this Sunday, but the point was driven home. If anything has frustrated fans about this team this season, it has been consistency within games. Good first halves and struggling second halves have been enough of a pattern to define the season. They certainly defined Sunday.
4.The offensive line must improve.We're running out of ways to say it. Pass blocking isn't all on the line. Communication matters, too, and so does blitz pickup. But Blake Bortles simply throws under too much duress too often and it's hard for a rookie quarterback to improve when that's the case.
5.The lack of downfield passing game still hurts the running game.Don't overlook that as a reason for the lack of a running game in recent weeks. Denard Robinson averaged significantly more than 100 yards rushing in three games in late October and early November. Teams stacked the line and assumed the Jaguars' passing game couldn't beat them. Those teams have been right, and as a result, teams have been in no rush to unstack the box. Robinson didn't forget how to run, but the going has been much more difficult for the last month.
6.Bortles is improving.Whoa! What about the interception? What about the near-interception?!!! What about the loss?? All of those happened, but Bortles early in the game Sunday played looser and freer than he had in a long while and the first half was one of his better halves. Not coincidentally, it was a good first half for the Jaguars' offense. There's a long way to go, but he looked better Sunday.
7.Dropped passes kill. They kill drives and they kill momentum. For a young offense, they kill chances at winning. All of that was true Sunday.
8.Bortles still has to work on fundamentals.That's probably not going to change before the end of this season. But it can improve in the offseason. So can he. And there's no reason to think he won't.
9.Marqise Lee is starting to get it.You saw signs two weeks ago in Indianapolis. You saw more signs last week against the Giants. On Sunday, you saw even more signs – and because that's three consecutive weeks of seeing it, that's more than a blip. It's a bona fide trend of improvement and that's really good news for a team that appears to now have a very good core of young receivers for the future.
10.Cecil Shorts III is struggling.Shorts is one of the team's true good guys, but he had one of his toughest games Sunday: 10 targets, two receptions, three yards and a really critical drop in the fourth quarter.
11.Jordan Todman is having a good year on special teams. The Jaguars' special teams unit has had its share of troubles this season, but Todman has been a consistent bright spot. He was productive again Sunday, returning four kicks for a 27.8-yard average.
12.The defense can't carry this team every week.It wasn't realistic to think this defense could carry the team week after week after week. It's an improving defense, but it's not elite yet. The defense was pretty good for a half Sunday. It struggled mightily in the third quarter. The result of that quarter was a double-digit deficit and that's a big margin for this team right now.