It’s the one play by the one player at almost the exact one wrong time that is getting the Jaguars beat on a regular basis. Their loss to Buffalo is another one score defeat in a game where they had their chances. The officiating was suspect for sure, but you can look at three or four situations in the game where the Jaguars didn’t execute didn’t the play with the precision necessary and it’s what led to their ultimate demise.
For all the things that you can count that have gone wrong on their way to a 2-9 record, at least Quarterback Blake Bortles is honest with himself and everybody else about what the real reasons are for their ninth consecutive non-winning season.
“It’s easy to use that as a crutch or an excuse that we’re not getting the breaks or any luck,” Bortles said in his post-game remarks. “It’s up to us to go make a play. Rather than leave it up to luck or a break or a bounce or a call it’s up to us to go make a play. We’ve got to do more of that.”
As Head Coach Gus Bradley has steadfastly stood by Bortles, Blake looks like he’s playing his way out of a season-long fog. He’s no world-beater but he played well enough to keep his team in the game. He didn’t get them beat. He admitted he should have called time out on 4th and 4 when the Jaguars were called for a delay of game, saying he was trying to check into another play but didn’t get it done in time. He was the leading rusher for the Jaguars, this week partly situation and partly by design.
“It’s just a chance to take off if they’re going to play “2 man,” Bortles explained. You drop back and wait a second and take off because nobody’s looking at you. In our 4th week with Nathaniel (Hackett) he’s adamant that if your progression isn’t there, take off and run.”
With a 7-6 halftime lead, the Jaguars gave up a 75-yard TD run to LeSean McCoy on the first play from scrimmage in the 3rd quarter. It’s one of three “explosive” plays the Jaguars allowed; just enough to get them beat.
“When we give up those explosives, that’s what gets us beat,” said Telvin Smith in front of his locker. “Never let this record define this team. We just gotta learn how to win situations and win those big plays.”
Sen’Derrick Marks said, “It just keeps catching us. Plays we haven’t given up and ones we won’t give up again. We have to find a way to finish.”
Marks also echoed what other players in the losing locker room said: They’re not giving up. “We feel so positive about what we have as a team. Honestly, our record doesn’t reflect how we play. We gotta figure out how to get over that hump. It’ll take some soul searching to do it.”
And Bradley was very matter-of-fact in his post-game remarks. He outlined how the Jaguars could have won the game, what their game plan was, and what they emphasized this week in practice. He thought they accomplished most of their goals, except winning the game.
“They made more plays than we did. We gave up a few explosive plays. Good team, we knew that.”
It’s not often Bradley bristles when asked a question, at least the fair ones, despite nine losses. But he didn’t like it one bit when he was asked how he’ll keep his team motivated now that they’re ensured of a losing record.
”I think our team is pretty focused,” he said. “I don’t question their focus or how they played. I don’t think you have to worry about their effort.”