While the weather was changing through out the game, the Jaguars fortunes were about the same in the first half against the Texans. Good plays were followed by critical mistakes and the Jaguars fell behind 10-7. As Gus Bradley pointed out in the last two weeks, it’s not one guy making five mistakes but rather five guys making one mistake at critical times.
A nice punt by Bryan Anger was downed at the one-yard line but the Texans went on a 99-yard 16 -play drive to take a 7-0 lead. On the drive Houston converted two 3rd and longs and one 4th down to keep things going. That continued the Jaguars problems on defense getting off the field. They’re last in the league in allowing third down conversions.
On offense the Jaguars followed with their own 14-play 75-yard drive to tie the game at seven. Allen Robinson with a nice catch in the end zone for the TD.
But the problems cropped up at the most inopportune times. A critical third down drop by Robinson stopped a promising drive near mid-field. And after giving up a FG, the Jaguars two-minute drill was driving for a score, only to have Blake Bortles lock in on Julius Thomas at the goal line and throw an interception. No points. As much progress as Bortles has made and the success he had last week against Tampa Bay, he still is having trouble scanning the field once he makes a pre-snap read. He had guys open several times but couldn’t find them and either scrambled or threw it incomplete.
Although he went through pregame warm-ups, T.J. Yeldon was inactive for this game because of a groin strain suffered last week. That left the running game to Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson. Neither got going in the first half so the offense sputtered, only scoring the one TD.
In the second half, there was a glimmer of hope in the third quarter. Despite giving up two third and long conversions to Houston, the defense stopped the Texans on 4th and short at midfield to give the offense the ball. Even with no running game to speak of, Bortles threw a 22 yard completion to Allen Robinson and then a 29 yard TD pass to Julius Thomas, his first as a Jaguar, as they took a 14-10 lead.
When Bradley talks about consistency and precision, he’s talking about the coaching staff and himself as well. On the first drive of the 4th quarter the Texans were moving it pretty easily down the field when a defensive holding call went against Davon House on a 29-yard completion down the sideline. The catch was close, but Bradley threw the challenge flag, despite it was only about a ten yard difference between the catch and the holding call. And it was a first down either way. Who’s advising Gus whether to challenge or not?
Houston followed up by scoring a TD on a pass from Brian Hoyer to DeAndre Hopkins to take a 17-14 lead. While House has been singled up on Hopkins for most of the game and has done a credible job, he looked lost on that play with Hopkins circling around him in the end zone and making the bobbling catch.
On the Jaguars ensuing possession, A.J. Cann was called for holding on third down as Bortles missed Robinson on a deep post to complete the three and out. That’s the lack of consistency and precision Bradley is talking about. Then Bortles equaled out his good play early with a bad throw to Thomas that was picked off for a TD and a 31-14 Texans lead midway through the fourth quarter. The stadium emptied quickly after that.
A touchdown pass from Bortles to Allen Hurns cut it to 31-20 and perhaps fittingly Jason Myers missed the extra point. On the ensuing on-side kick, the Jaguars recovered, but Hurns was ruled offside and the Texans got the ball. Precision on the touchdown play, inconsistency on the next.
So combine all of the things Gus Bradley has talked about this year in terms of precision, consistency, margin of error and correcting the things that are wrong, throw them into one game and have them all go the wrong way and you get a bad division loss at home to the Texans.
It’s off to London this week to face the Bills, also losers this week, then the bye week and road games at the Jets and Baltimore. They’ll next be home November 19th a Thursday night, to play the Titans. Looking at the rest of the schedule, maybe the Jaguars can eek out 5 wins this year if they all of the sudden get their act together and play within their “margin of error.” But with no proof of that, it looks to be a long road through 16 games and another year of waiting and wondering about something that might not even be there.