JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars lost for the first time this season in a 9-6 defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars knocked Titans' starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert from the game, and Marcus Mariota did enough to lead Tennessee to the win, the Titans' third straight over the Jaguars. Here are my four takeaways from the game:
1. Despite their record without him, the Jaguars are not better without Leonard Fournette
The Jaguars offense needed someone to make a play. Last week, with Fournette out of the lineup, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant all made plays. Against the Titans, the Jaguars didn't have an offensive play of more than 15 yards until the final minute. While the offense was playing without Fournette, and without two offensive linemen who were starters when the season began--Cam Robinson and A.J. Cann -- nobody stepped up. They missed Fournette.
2. In most games, the Jaguars biggest opponent is themselves
Dropped passes, penalties and missed tackles: Those are the things that the Jaguars will be hearing about when the game film is reviewed. The Jaguars dropped at least three passes in the first half. There were others that could have been caught but can't be counted as drops. Jacksonville finished with eight penalties for 75 yards and too many missed tackles, especially on Derek Henry and Mariota. The Jaguars had penalty issues in the preseason, and they have continued in the regular season.
3. There is such a thing as a letdown game
The Jaguars had plenty of reasons to be motivated for this game. It was the first division game of the year. They lost twice to the Titans last year. Gabbert, who started at quarterback for the Titans, beat the Jaguars last year when he was in Arizona. It's not that the Jaguars lacked motivation, but the energy, or edge, or intensity--call it what you will - wasn't there. When the Jaguars didn't score early, there wasn't a spark to get them going. It was, in the purest sense, a letdown.
4. Having a feel for how a game is going to play out is big
During the first quarter, the Jaguars and Titans were in the early stages of a grind-it-out game. Sometimes the pace and tempo of a game changes, but at that point, it was starting to feel like a field position game. That's when the Jaguars called a fake punt. It didn't work. The Titans took over in Jaguars territory and moved the ball far enough to set up a Ryan Succup field goal. Sometimes little plays or decisions like that, even early in a game, can have long-lasting effects on the outcome. It was a risky play call, and it cost the Jaguars three points in a game where points were at a premium.