The Jacksonville Jaguars were leading the Houston Texans 13-10 at halftime today. We promise.
The defense was doing a good job of handling the Texans offense. They allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw, and when he did he didn't do that well, and forced them to run. Arian Foster broke off two good runs (the first led to a field goal and the second would have to except for a bogus personal foul call on rookie linebacker Telvin Smith) but aside from that had just 37 yards in the first half. Blake Bortles, however, was playing well, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch was calling a game that minimized our deficiencies in the running game...
And then halftime happened.
We didn't score another point all game, totaled four yards in the third quarter alone, and Foster was absolutely gashing the interior of our defensive line. It all amounted to a bad loss in worse weather, but what are some things we learned about the Jaguars in today's loss to the Texans?
Four things we learned
1. Jedd Fisch is (finally) capitalizing on Blake Bortles' strengths: At various points throughout the season, we've seen offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch call plays that allowed rookie quarterback Blake Bortles to showcase his strengths: mobility, athleticism, and improvisation. And aside from a bad throw that led to an interception and the decision not to heave it up on 4th-and-20, I thought this was the best complete game Bortles has put together this year.
Speaking of, there was a lot of groaning when Bortles threw that interception at the end of the third quarter, saying that Fisch "went sideways" with the play call, but it wasn't as bad of a call as it was a bad throw. Bortles will get better at throwing from the pocket and across his body.
Oh, and that second half on offense? Not Fisch's fault. The offensive line broke down and allowed the Texans pass rushers to have their way with Bortles, as well as the interior guys to get to Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart before they even had a chance to get anything going.
2. Marqise Lee is getting it: Speaking of Marqise Lee, in the past two weeks he's shown himself to be worth the high second-round pick the Jaguars invested in him. He was the Jaguars leading receiver against the New York Giants (75 yards) and was second against the Houston Texans (67 yards).
He's also running a variety of routes, and showing he can be more than the niche "throw him a bubble screen and watch what he does with space" receiver. (That 31-yard completion in the second quarter when he Moss'd cornerback Jonathan Joseph was SEXUAL.)
3. But the rest of the offense let Bortles down: Cecil Shorts, Clay Harbor, and Denard Robinson all had drops throughout the game and weren't helping out a quarterback in their first year and an offensive coordinator trying to hide the fact that his offensive line is patchwork, his receiving corps is depleted, and that rookie quarterback makes mistakes.
And the offensive line was just... whew. J.J. Watt had three sacks today, lining up mainly over backup right tackle Sam Young who was making the sixth start of his career. Left tackle Luke Joeckel didn't play much better.
4. The run defense was offensive: The defensive line, which has been the Jaguars strength this season, started out fine. Sen'Derrick Marks racked up 1.5 sacks in the first two Texans possessions, they were putting pressure on Fitzpatrick, and Arian Foster found a couple of big runs but was corralled on pivotal second-downs that led to unmanageable third-down attempts.
But then the second half happened and the offense's ineptitude combined with a Texans offensive line that looked better in every way humbled the Jaguars defensive line.