NFL Team Report - Jacksonville Jaguars - INSIDE SLANT


And suddenly there is hope for the future after all. Maybe even this year.

That was the feeling Jacksonville Jaguars fans had coming out of Sunday's 33-14 loss in San Diego. Normally a 19-point loss doesn't give a team much hope for the future. But the Jaguars are no normal team. Truth of the matter is they are much less than normal. They are one of two (Oakland) winless teams left in the NFL after four weeks, they rank dead last in points allowed and are next to last (Oakland of course) in points scored per game.

But enough of the negatives. Is there really hope for the future? There is when you consider:

--The Jaguars were down by just three points (17-14) at the half to the Chargers. After its first possession of the second resulted in a touchdown, San Diego only managed three field goals the rest of the game.

--The 19-point loss was the lowest differential by the Jaguars in the first four games.

--They have faced, arguably, the NFL's top two passers currently in Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and San Diego's Philip Rivers the last two weeks.

--Of the Jaguars' first four opponents, only one (Washington) has a losing record after four weeks. None of Jacksonville's next four opponents currently have a winning record.

The reality is however, a loss is a loss is a loss is another loss. For the second year in a row, the Jaguars are winless after four games. And while this year's team has scored 27 more points than what the 2013 team did after four games, it's also given up 23 more points than it had at this point a year ago.

But perhaps the most optimistic cause for such future optimism is the play of quarterback Blake Bortles. The rookie quarterback completed 29-of-37 passes (exact same numbers as Rivers). The differences come after that with Rivers holding an edge in yards (377-253), touchdowns (3 to 1) and interceptions (none to 2). Attribute the discrepancy in the last three categories to receivers. While Rivers consistently threw medium range to long routes to wide-open receivers, Bortles had to be pinpoint accurate just to complete short tosses to his receivers who were usually well-covered by Charger defenders.

San Diego's top three wide receivers and tight end have a combined 26 years of NFL experience. The Jaguars' same foursome have a combined seven years experience prior to the 2014 season.

Add in a rookie quarterback and an offensive line that starts two rookies and a second-year player who missed all but five games last year, it's easy to see why there are going to be plenty of growing pains for Jacksonville this year. But such frustrations one season can turn into winning moments in future years. That's what the Jaguars' top brass and coaching staff are counting on. It will take a good amount of patience. That, however, is something local fans don't always possess. They may be optimistic about the future; it's just that they want the future to be the present.

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NFL Team Report - Jacksonville Jaguars - NOTES, QUOTES


--That long-term, lucrative contract that wide receiver Cecil Shorts had envisioned following the 2014 season is losing its appeal. Shorts went to the sideline in Sunday's game against San Diego with another left hamstring injury. It marked the fourth time since June that the team's leading receiver from a year ago had been slowed with an injury. He missed the last couple weeks of offseason workouts with a calf injury. He was then out nearly three weeks during training camp with a right hamstring injury. He came back but missed the first two regular-season games with an injury to his left hamstring.

Sunday's injury came one play earlier than when Shorts waited on a pass from Blake Bortles, only to have Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers step in front of him and make an interception.

"I felt a pull," said Shorts, whose contract expires at the end of this season. "It actually happened on the play before (the interception). I was running when (a Chargers defender) grabbed me and I felt something pull."

After undergoing diagnostic testing on Monday, Shorts' injury was diagnosed as a muscle strain near the hamstring area.

--Winston Guy became the second Jaguars starter this season to go from a starting spot one week to being waived within a week later. Guy started the first three games at free safety this year before he was demoted to a backup spot for Sunday's game at San Diego. Things didn't go well for Guy in that game, however, as he was badly beaten by Eddie Royal on a wheel-route move in the final minute of the first half that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown. It was a momentum-builder for the Chargers who went on to outscore the Jaguars 16-0 in the second half. Guy was released on Monday and replaced on the roster by rookie safety Craig Loston, who was signed off the club's practice squad.