JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 37-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field Sunday
1. The Jaguars need to lead.All teams like to lead. All teams want to lead. Considering how the 2017 Jaguars are built – to run, play defense and rush the passer – they really need to lead. This team is going to have a tough time coming from behind. It couldn't Sunday.
2. Leonard Fournette is the real deal.Forget the rookie running back's stat line Sunday: 14 carries, 40 yards, one touchdown. As was the case in Week 1, Fournette early Sunday showed the power, strength and instincts that made him the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Those same traits will make him one of the NFL's best at his position sooner rather than later.
3. Blake Bortles struggled Sunday … No other way to say it: the Jaguars' quarterback finished Sunday completing 20 of 34 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, but he was 9 of 9 in the fourth quarter for 134 yards and a touchdown. Entering the fourth quarter, he was 11 of 25 for 89 yards and two interceptions. The interceptions came on tipped passes and weren't completely his fault, but the inability to make plays downfield in the passing game hurts this offense.
4. … and the Jaguars do miss Allen Robinson.He's the team's No. 1 receiver and he's out for the season. He also was usually good for at least two or three first-down converting third-down receptions a game. Those were missed in the second and third quarters Sunday as the game slipped away.
5. The Jaguars have to stay close.OK, this is kind of a combination of Nos. 1 and 2, but if the Jaguars can't lead, they need to at least stay close. Staying close will allow them to utilize Fournette. When he was a factor Sunday, the Jaguars were in it. When he wasn't, the game felt out of control.
6. The Titans' offensive line is good …We knew this already, but it was evident how Sunday how much better the Titans' offensive line was than that of the Texans in Week 1. The result was the Jaguars' defensive line didn't dominate. The Jaguars can't expect the 10 sacks and three sack/fumbles they registered the Texans every week. But for this team to compete, it needs to pressure the passer better than it did Sunday. That's another reason this team must stay close; it's hard to pressure the passer when the opponent doesn't need to throw.
7. The Jaguars are still in first place.Yes, Sunday was difficult. And yes, giving up 30 consecutive points was disturbing. But just as winning by 22 points in Week 1 didn't make the Jaguars a Super Bowl contender, losing by 21 in Week 2 doesn't end the season. The Jaguars are 1-1. Same as the Texans. Same as the Titans. And they're tied for first with those two teams.
8. Jaguars safety Barry Church hits hard.Man …
9. Even injured, teams don't want to test Jalen Ramsey.The Jaguars' second-year cornerback missed all three days of practice with an ankle issue. He started Sunday. The Titans threw in his direction once. Probably smart.
10. This team can't commit turnovers and win …The Jaguars were plus-four takeaway/giveaway in Week 1 against Houston and won by 22 points; they were minus-two in Week 2 against Tennessee and lost by 21 points. Not a coincidence.
11. … and it can't commit crucial penalties and win, either.This was more telling than the turnover statistic. The Jaguars committed 10 penalties for 99 yards Sunday, but it was when they committed them that mattered. The Jaguars offensively committed a major penalty on five of six possessions from the middle of the second quarter through the end of the third quarter. They did not score on any of the possessions and the Titans turned a 3-3 tie into a 23-3 lead. Head Coach Doug Marrone and several Jaguars players hammered the postgame theme: this not a team that can "play behind the chains" and expect to win.
12.Special teams lapses still kill.Big plays against the Jaguars' special teams were a recurring theme last season during a season-defining, late-season losing streak. The area hurt in a big way Sunday, with Adoree' Jackson catching a 59-yard punt by Brad Nortman in the middle of the field and returning it 46 yards. The play seemed to take the fight out of the Jaguars' defense. Titans running back Derrick Henry's 17-yard touchdown run came two plays later, and the Titans scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions after that.
13. The Jaguars must follow their formula.We maybe knew this already, but Sunday drove the point home: the Jaguars must limit mistakes, play swarming defense, run well and win the turnover margin to be successful this season. They started Sunday running well and playing good defense, but mistakes led to too many negative situations they couldn't overcome.
14. London's calling. The Jaguars play host to the Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday. They've won their last two games in the UK. Moving on …