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What We Learned: Titans 33, Jaguars 30

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) moves with the ball during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) moves with the ball during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 33-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday…

1.Minshew is getting closer and closer to being the man … Is Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II elite? Not yet. Does he have flaws? Yes. But it's becoming more apparent by the week he can direct and execute a productive NFL offense. And it's more difficult by the week to see him not being the Jaguars' starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

2…. and he still has learning to do. Minshew's awareness and decision-making are still concerning. Seeing the field is, too; teams give him trouble at times by containing him in the pocket. Mostly, he still has a play or two a game where decision-making hurts. Taking the 20-yard sack early Sunday was a "huh" moment that killed what at the time was a key drive. Those must stop.

3.The offense is good I. The Jaguars through two games are tied for eighth in the NFL and fourth in the AFC in points per game. The wide receivers are good. Tight end Tyler Eifert had a big-time touchdown Sunday. There are other reasons we'll touch on later, but nothing about the offense looks fluky.

3.The offense is good II. The Jaguars' have scored 57 points in two games, the first time they have scored at least 27 points in each of the first two games of the season since 2000. They haven't scored at least 27 points in back-to-back games since late in the 2017 season. It has been too long since the Jaguars were good enough offensively to be "fun." They're fun right now.

4.The "tanking" thing was ridiculous. Remember? When observers said the Jaguars were tanking for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence? Remember? When General Manager David Caldwell said to let this team play before latching on to the tanking theory? Remember?

5.The resiliency is real. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone didn't want to talk resiliency Sunday. He was focused on a disappointing loss. But the Jaguars for a second consecutive week overcame multiple deficits to give themselves chances to win. They again overcame a disturbingly slow start. This team feels different than recent Jaguars teams. Resiliency is why.

6.James Robinson is good. This rang true after Week 1 and it rings truer after Week 2. The rookie free agent running back followed his 62-yard regular-season-opening performance against Indianapolis with his first 100-yard rushing game – a 102-yard, one-touchdown performance against a very good Titans defense. The rushing offense is better with Robinson than it was with two-time 1,000-yard rusher Leonard Fournette. Period.

7.The wide receivers are good. DJ Chark Jr. Laviska Shenault Jr. Chris Conley. Keelan Cole. All continue to make plays, and all continue to make difficult catches routine.

8.Shenault is as advertised. Did you see the rookie wide receiver run over Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro? As a running back out of the backfield? This kid is different. He has the makings of a star. A tough-to-tackle, physical star.

9.The pass rush is an issue… Two sacks in two games. It's a concern.

10. … and so are the slow starts defensively. Credit the unit for making big plays late in each of the first two games, and credit Sunday for some critical defensive stops. They were off the field on a late drive until a "pass interference" against linebacker Myles Jack sustained the Titans' game-winning drive. But the defense also has allowed easy, long drives on the first two possessions of each of the first two games. This is a young unit that hasn't played together much. It must grow up quickly and play better early.

11.And the Jaguars miss Yannick Ngakoue. This never was going to not be true. Of all the well-publicized offseason departures, Ngakoue was the one the Jaguars didn't want to leave. It's easy to see why through two games. The struggling Jaguars pass rush absolutely could use Ngakoue off the edge. This offseason loss that could be felt for a while.

12.Myles Jack didn't interfere. He wasn't down in January of '18 and he didn't interfere late Sunday. Not every call is perfect. Tough break.

13.It's OK to be offsides. Right?

14.Josh Lambo is still good. The weekly reminder is still valid, because the Jaguars' kicker absolutely is still good. But he hurt the team Sunday by squibbing a kickoff off a Titans blocker – giving the Titans a free three points at the end of the first half – and missing a second-half extra point. The errors didn't lose the game, but they changed it.

15.The offensive line is good. Did we forget to mention this already? The Jaguars' decision-makers were roundly criticized throughout the offseason for not addressing the offensive line. Credit where it's due?

16.The Jaguars can compete. Jaguars observers spent the offseason thinking about draft position and bemoaning the loss of familiar names. They're 1-1 and came within a play or two Sunday of beating the 2019 AFC runners-up on the road in a venue where the Jaguars haven't won since 2013. It's time to rethink the storylines for this team. The Jaguars believe they can contend this season. They've yet to show that's not true.

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