The Jaguars lost in London for the second straight year. The "home field advantage" argument should be put to bed. There's no question about the financial implications of the Jaguars' annual home game in London, but the trip across the pond does not help this team on the field.
But no matter where this game took place, the Jaguars would have lost to the Texans on Sunday. The Jaguars got dismantled by Deshaun Watson and company and fell by a final score of 26-3.
The Jaguars' young QB may still be the future of this franchise. But he's no longer the present. Nick Foles will be eligible to return the next time the Jaguars take the field. After a performance that saw Gardner Minshew turn the ball over four times in the fourth quarter, there's little doubt that Foles will regain his title as starting QB. The Jaguars couldn't do anything positive on offense against the Texans with any consistency. The Texans are not great defensively, especially in the secondary, which makes the Jaguars' inability to consistently move the ball even more frustrating. Minshew Mania will be put on pause, at least for now.
Dede Westbrook is key.
The absence of Dede Westbrook on the field for the Jaguars on Sunday hurt them in a big way. Westbrook, even when he's not catching the ball, is a player that defenses have to account for. He's the second most targeted receiver on the Jaguars' roster, and without him on the field, the offense doesn't have the same get up and go. The Jaguars need Westbrook to get healthy over the bye week and be ready to go against the Colts in week 11 if they hope to get back to .500.
And so is DJ Hayden.
The Jaguars sorely missed DJ Hayden on Sunday. The nickel corner extraordinaire is one of the most consistent performers on the Jaguars' defense. With Tre Herndon now starting on the outside, there's no one with any real experience to fill in for Hayden. Breon Borders was forced into action, and even if he's a nice developmental depth piece, he wasn't ready to play every single down for the Jaguars' defense. But with the Jaguars' injuries at linebacker and with DJ Hayden out of the game, that's precisely what happened.
Deshaun Watson is unreal.
The Jaguars' front did an excellent job harassing Deshaun Watson for much of the game, but Watson was too slippery and too quick on his feet for it to matter. The Jaguars' pass rush was good, but Deshaun Watson was better. Time and time again, Watson was able to get rid of the ball at the very last possible moment for big completions. Watson is playing at an MVP level, and there was simply nothing the Jaguars could do about it. Had they been at full strength in the secondary and at linebacker, it might have helped, but Watson was not going to be denied on Sunday.
The road ahead...
The Jaguars now sit at 4-5, in third place in the division. Ahead of them, the Colts are 5-3, and the Texans are now 6-3. Finding their way into playoff contention will be undeniably difficult. But the Jaguars still play the Colts twice and the Titans once more. Their first game against the Colts comes after the upcoming bye week in Indianapolis. The Jags then travel to Nashville to take on the Titans. If the Jaguars can get back on track and win the next two divisional games, they'll have a shot to make some noise. But they'll need to get DJ and Dede back on the field and sort out the QB situation before all that.
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