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What We Learned: Titans 42, Jaguars 39


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 42-39 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday

1.The Jaguars are exciting and …This isn't just something we learned Sunday. It has become increasingly evident by the week. Still, the loss to the Titans drove the point home: this is an exciting team. It moves consistently offensively. It makes big plays. It never quits. It's in every game. When the Jaguars win, that makes them fun and exciting. Of course, when they lose it makes them …

2. … really, really frustrating.How close is this team to being 6-6 and in real playoff contention? Real close. How close is it to being better than that? It's pretty close to that too. Sunday's loss was just one more in a strikingly lengthy line of coulda, woulda, shoulda and didn'ts this season. It ain't boring or dispiriting anymore, but the frustration is real.

3.The kicker …There really isn't much more that needs to be said, but Sunday was painful to watch on this front. Rookie kicker Jason Myers had a really good November, and his field goals have been better lately. But Myers' two missed extra points Sunday mean he has missed three in the last two games – and six this season. You just can't do that – not if you want to win close games.

4.The playoffs …If it wasn't over before it is now. Too bad, too, because the Texans and Colts both lost on Sunday and that would have … No, never mind. Just stop.

5.Allen Robinson is getting really, really good …This is something we keep learning, learning and learning. Robinson now has 11 touchdown receptions this season, and he is the Jaguars' first 1,000-yard receiver in 10 seasons. He was nonchalant this past week discussing the possibility of going over 1,000 yards. Maybe there's a reason. Maybe to him it's not a big deal.

6. … no … we mean like "elite good."Will Robinson make the Pro Bowl this season? That still could be tough because it's such a reputation game. But is he deserving? He's awfully, awfully close.

7.The pass rush is not good.At this point what more is there to say?

8.The team misses Sen'Derrick Marks – and probably Dante Fowler Jr.Well, we couldn't just say nine words – "at this point what more is there to say?" – about the pass rush. Not when it's such an obvious deficiency. The pass rush probably wasn't going to be great this season no matter what. A couple of more Leo pass rushers are needed. But the absence of Fowler and Marks are big reasons why getting pressure with four just never happens.

9.The blitz can taketh away, too.The Jaguars have been a bit reluctant this season to call all-out blitzes on a regular basis – and rightly so. If blitzing on every down worked, then you would blitz on every down. On Sunday, the Jaguars brought seven rushers on a key play – third-and-7 from the Titans 13. When the rush didn't get to Mariota he broke into a secondary with only four defenders defending. Eighty-seven yards later he was in the end zone with a game-changing touchdown.

10.Julius Thomas is getting comfortable.He has three touchdowns in his last three games, and the trust between him and Blake Bortles continues to grow. He's supposed to be a key, core player and he's beginning to play like one.

11.Blake Bortles gets better and better …He had 11 touchdowns passing and 17 interceptions last season. He has 27 touchdowns passing and 13 interceptions this season. That's improvement, and there's no more important thing for the Jaguars than that.

12 … and better and better.This is not say Bortles' development is complete, but he went interception-less on Sunday while throwing five touchdowns. He made some errors, and there were some near-misses, but the improvement … well, like we said: it's important. Just real important.

13.The Jaguars can score in the red zone after all.Remember last week? When the red-zone failures were pretty much the only topic worth discussing around the Jaguars? Looks like we need to find another topic. The Jaguars went six for six scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Wow.

14.Third-down defense remains an issue.This is an offshoot of the struggling pass rush. When you can't pressure the quarterback it's tough to get off the field on third downs. Two of the Titans' touchdowns Sunday came on third-and-7 situations, including Mariota's 87-yard touchdown.  The Titans converted eight of 13 third downs and converted third-and-6 or more on all five of their touchdown drives.

15.The red-zone defense remains an issue, too.The Jaguars' struggles here continue. The Jaguars have to play a little bend-but-don't break because of the pass rush. But when opponents score consistently in the red zone that's bending AND breaking. That's not OK.

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