INDIANAPOLIS -- It's the third year of the Jacksonville Jaguars' rebuild, and most of the key players on offense are supposedly in place.
Now it's time for those players -- the quarterback, running back, two receivers, several offensive linemen and the tight end -- to start producing as if they really are the franchise's foundation pieces for the next several seasons.
They've done it sporadically but not consistently, which is why the Jaguars are 8-28 under general manager David Caldwell and Gus Bradley. It was also why they lost to the Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts 16-13 in overtime Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"It's just a lack of plays being made," said quarterback Blake Bortles, who threw for 298 yards and one touchdown. "The guys on the field have to be able to execute, whether it's up front or whether it's making a play or whether it's me throwing a ball.
"We've got to continue to strive to make big plays."
Bortles' day is a good example of the inconsistency that has resulted in only 62 points in four games. He completed 14 of 18 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the first half, which ended with the Jaguars ahead 13-10. He also completed 14 passes in the second half and overtime, but he needed 32 attempts to do it, and he threw for only 119 yards.
He wasn't the only one who was up and down. Receiver Allen Hurns had eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He had three for 34 yards in the second half.
Penalties hurt or stalled drives -- a false start on left tackle Luke Joeckel and right tackle Jermey Parnell, a holding call on Parnell, an illegal formation -- and there were two drops, a low snap that got away from Bortles and two passes deflected at the line of scrimmage.
The Jaguars were the worst team in the red zone in 2014 -- according to ESPN Stats & Information. They scored an NFL-low 13 touchdowns and completed an NFL-worst 39.1 percent of passes on 32 possessions -- and haven't been much better this season. They've scored touchdowns on only 3-of-8 red-zone possessions entering Sunday's game and went 0-for-1 against the Indianapolis Colts.
"We weren't consistent," Hurns said. "We'll make a play here and we'll come back and there'll be a penalty and things like that. We just never got in our groove."
That's the problem, though. The Jaguars don't really have a groove on offense. They're averaging 15.5 points through four games, which is essentially what the offense averaged last season (15.6 ppg) and the excuse for that poor output was the fact that five rookies, including Bortles, started on offense.
They've scored only six touchdowns in four games, all of which have come through the air, and they've scored only two in the second half. Both came in last week's 51-17 blowout loss to New England.
The coaches raved about Bortles' improved mechanics and delivery during training camp and the preseason and he has been better statistically: 54 percent completion rate, six touchdowns and only three interceptions. But he couldn't get the offense any closer than the Indy 35-yard line in the fourth quarter.
"We had our chances in the fourth quarter and the end and obviously we didn't do it," left guard Zane Beadles said. "That definitely comes with consistency and being able to execute in those critical situations."
They did against Miami, driving 66 yards in nine plays to set up Jason Myers' 28-yard field goal with 40 seconds to play. Not on Sunday, though.
Myers missed potential winning kicks at the end of regulation and in overtime but that wouldn't have mattered if the offense had managed points on its five drives before Myers' first missed field-goal attempt.
The offense was hurt a bit by the fact that right guard Brandon Linder, the team's best lineman, did not play Sunday. It also certainly could use tight end Julius Thomas and receiver Marqise Lee, but it's not as if they're Rob Gronkowski and Randy Moss. They're good players, but their return isn't going to make the Jaguars an offensive juggernaut.
"We have who we have right now and we've got to be able to play with the guys we have and we've got to be able to win with them," Bortles said.
That's not going to happen until everyone starts producing on a consistent basis. That has to happen now, or the Jaguars are going to be staring at a top-five draft pick for the fifth year in a row.