AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What happened last Sunday against the Washington Redskins has become all too familiar to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Struggle to move the ball because of poor offensive line play, a lack of playmakers, and a quarterback that doesn’t scare opposing defenses. Failure to stop the run, get off the field on third down, and make big plays on defense. Players talking about getting punched in the mouth by an opponent and failing to respond.

And a loss by double digits.

That last thing has happened a lot. In fact, it has happened a ridiculous amount of times -- really, an embarrassing amount of times.

Since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Jaguars are 6-28. That's humiliating enough. But it’s even worse than that because 20 of those losses have come by 10 or more points, including the first eight games of the 2013 season.

"Just hearing it, it’s definitely something you’re not proud about," said safety Chris Prosinski, one of nine current players that have played significant roles with the team over that span. "But I know for this team, looking back to 2012 there’s so much more difference between coaches, players, schemes, what-not. ...But the best thing to do is get back out there and practice and move forward."

The Jaguars have certainly been trying to do that but without much success. In fact, things kept getting worse. The Jaguars lost eight games by double digits en route to a 2-14 finish in the 2012 season. They lost 10 in 2013 and went 4-12. This season, they gave up 34 unanswered points in the second half against Philadelphia and lost by 17 points and lost by 31 at Washington last Sunday.

The Redskins loss marked the fourth time over the past two-plus seasons that the Jaguars have lost by more than 30 points.

Here’s further documentation to show how bad things have been since the 2012 season began:
  • The Jaguars have been out-scored by 423 points in the 20 losses and have lost those games by an average margin of 21.15 points.
  • In addition to the four losses by more than 30 points, they’ve lost nine games by 20 or more points.
  • They’ve only lost three games by 14 or less.

The Redskins loss is arguably the worst loss the team has suffered since 2012. It wasn’t the largest margin -- that was a 41-3 blowout by Chicago in Week 5 of 2012 -- but the circumstances make it more troubling. The Redskins were already without Jordan Reed, one of the NFL’s top tight ends, and then lost quarterback Robert Griffin III and receiver DeSean Jackson in the first quarter.

The Jaguars had made a significant upgrade to the defensive front in free agency by signing ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant and defensive tackle Ziggy Hood, and that was supposed to allow the defense to keep the games close into the second half and result in more chances to win games. That didn't happen against Washington.

Washington still rushed for 191 yards, piled up 32 first downs, and converted 6 of 14 third downs.

Maybe it’s time to start asking if the franchise is in better shape now than it was two years ago.

"We have some work to do but I definitely feel like this franchise is headed in the right direction," receiver Cecil Shorts said. "[GM] Dave [Caldwell], [coach] Gus [Bradley], they’re doing everything they can. It’s on us as players to take control of these reigns and get things going."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Reading the coverage of the Jacksonville Jaguars ...

The Florida Times-Union ranked the top-five most unacceptable losses in team history, and Sunday's 41-10 beatdown in Washington came in at No. 2. No. 1 is the 21-0 loss to Houston on Dec. 26, 2004.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco has a column called Monday Musings. Among his thoughts in the latest version: Time for quarterback Chad Henne to sit, and Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan destroyed right tackle Cameron Bradfield.

WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper talk about the Jaguars' latest loss in their podcast.

Here is my story on coach Gus Bradley naming Henne the starting quarterback, while also leaving a little wiggle room. Key players have thrown support behind Henne.

The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran posts his observations from the Sunday loss. Among the more interesting items is the fact that the Jaguars gained only 27 yards on their first 19 offensive plays.

The T-U's Vito Stellino did a Q&A with Mickey Shuler, who is the only healthy tight end on the roster and could be the starter on Sunday after the announcement that Marcedes Lewis will miss 6-8 weeks with a left high ankle sprain.

 

The Film Don't Lie: Jaguars

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:00
PM ET
A weekly look at what the Jacksonville Jaguars must fix:

When relying on rookie receivers, coaches know things aren't going to always go smoothly. That's certainly the case with the Jaguars, who have used three rookies (Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson) as their primary targets in the first two games and will continue to do so in Sunday's home opener against Indianapolis.

The biggest issue with that trio has been mental mistakes. Coach Gus Bradley said Monday they combined to make double-digit mental mistakes, such as running the wrong route, playing with inconsistent effort, lining up incorrectly, quitting on a route and using poor technique to get open. All of that was evident on film during the 41-10 loss to Washington and played a significant role in the Jaguars giving up 10 sacks and scoring just one touchdown.

With the loss of tight end Marcedes Lewis (high ankle sprain) for six to eight weeks, the ongoing uncertainty of veteran receiver Cecil Shorts' hamstring and Hurns being day-to-day with an ankle injury, the pressure is on Lee and Robinson to play with consistent effort and eliminate as many mental mistakes as possible, or the passing offense will become even more inept.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley admitted he made a mistake in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles by not calling timeout when his defense clearly wasn't ready on a fourth-down play.

But he had no second thoughts about what happened at the end of Sunday's 41-10 loss at Washington, when rookie receiver Allen Hurns suffered an ankle injury on the team's final offensive snap. Quarterback Chad Henne threw a sideline pass to Hurns for 3 yards on fourth-and-16 and Hurns was hurt when he was tackled.

Bradley said he didn't consider just running the ball to kill the clock and end the game quickly when the Jaguars took over with 1:46 remaining.

"It didn't come up that way," Bradley said. "I think that the message to our team is we're going to compete every play. At the end of the game in that situation it was an unfortunate deal that took place, but that's our mindset."

Hurns is listed as day-to-day with an ankle sprain.

Updating the Jaguars' injuries

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
2:15
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The loss of tight end Marcedes Lewis for six to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain was the big injury news on Monday, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping to get several other key players back this week.

Here’s an update on where they stand:

S Johnathan Cyprien (concussion): He is still taking part in the NFL’s concussion protocol and will continue to be evaluated this week. The team is optimistic that he could be back on the practice field on Wednesday.

WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring): Shorts did some running on Monday and could return to the practice field on Wednesday.

RB Toby Gerhart (ankle): He is expected to practice on Wednesday.

WR Marqise Lee (hamstring): He is expected to practice on Wednesday.

WR Allen Hurns (ankle): He is listed as day to day and his status for Wednesday’s practice is uncertain.

TE Clay Harbor (calf): Harbor continues to progress and the Jaguars are optimistic he’ll be able to practice on Wednesday.

RT Austin Pasztor (hand): He will return to practice on Wednesday wearing a protective device on his right hand.
LANDOVER, Md. -- Everything set up for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense to have a pretty darn good Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Jordan Reed, one of the NFL’s top young tight ends, was out with a hamstring injury.

[+] EnlargeNiles Paul
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsNiles Paul was one of several Washington backups that burned Jacksonville's defense on Sunday.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III goes down with an ankle injury on the Redskins’ second possession and doesn’t return.

Receiver DeSean Jackson suffers a shoulder injury on the first play of their third possession and leaves the game.

The Jaguars couldn’t ask for any better circumstances. The Redskins were down three of their top offensive weapons, and had to rely on a backup quarterback, backup tight end, and a rookie receiver. Running back Alfred Morris and receiver Pierre Garcon were a concern, but stopping those two should have been considerably easier without the other three players.

Instead:

Washington rolls up 449 yards, including 191 rushing. Morris ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

Reserve tight end Niles Paul catches eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.

Rookie receiver Ryan Grant catches five passes for 57 yards.

Washington 41, Jacksonville 10.

"We should be able to take advantage of situations like that, especially with the major deep threat out of the game," linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "That should change things for us and we should be able to capitalize on the situation like that, and we didn’t."

Aside from the Jaguars’ offensive line giving anyone in red a free run at quarterback Chad Henne, the defense’s inability to stop anything was the most mystifying thing from Sunday’s game. It was fantastic in the first half of the season opener against Philadelphia, forcing three turnovers, sacking Eagles quarterback Nick Foles five times, and pitching a shutout.

The Eagles ripped off 34 points and 291 yards in the second half, but the general feeling inside the locker room was that the second half was an aberration. The defense was capable of playing as well as it did in the first half and there would be consistent effort and production against the Redskins.

They were right. It was consistently bad.

"To go out there last week and do what we did in the first half and then not really get into the flow this week, it’s really frustrating," defensive tackle Roy Miller said. "I don’t know what to say."

Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks did. He equated Sunday’s performance with getting bullied.

"They executed and we did nothing right," Marks said. "We’ve got to look at ourselves individually, each player, to see what can we do to turn this thing around.

"It’s never good to get punched in the face, and really do nothing about it. Nothing on the field said we did anything about it. So, we’ve got to criticize ourselves -- and I mean hard. We really have to. We’ll do that. We’ll do that when we get back in the film room tomorrow."

It’s not going to be easy to watch, and it shouldn’t be. The defense has given up 740 yards and 68 points in the past six quarters.

A lot of that came against an offense hamstrung by injuries, which makes it even worse.
LANDOVER, Md. -- Observed and heard in the locker room following the Jacksonville Jaguars' 41-10 loss to the Washington Redskins:

Lewis
Baffled: There was a feeling of bewilderment in the Jaguars' locker room. The team could have handled a loss, but to get completely dominated and embarrassed was a shock because players said they felt the first half of last week's loss to Philadelphia showed they had made strides. "We felt like we had taken steps in the right direction in that first game," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "Not leaning on that but at the same time we knew we were better than what the score showed the last game. So we were excited about coming in here and doing some good things."

Fundamentals, part I: The Jaguars missed 14 tackles in the opener against Philadelphia and things were just as bad against the Redskins. Linebacker Paul Posluszny said that if the Jaguars followed simple fundamentals then the Redskins wouldn't have run for 191 yards, including 85 by Alfred Morris. "Probably comes down to poor fundamentals," Posluszny said. "Guys leaving their feet. I know that happened to me. I left my feet to try to wrap up, you can't do that with strong NFL running backs. You have to get to his feet, wrap, tackle and keep your feet moving. If you don't do it right, you're not going to bring him down."

Fundamentals, part II: It may not have made much of a difference in the final outcome, but the Jaguars certainly could have grabbed early momentum had receiver Allen Hurns not dropped Chad Henne's deep pass. Instead, the wide-open Hurns had the pass bounce off his chest. Had he caught it, he likely would have scored. "Just trying to run without having the ball," he said. "I just moved without having it."
LANDOVER, Md. -- Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts will miss his second consecutive game with tightness in his left hamstring after he was declared inactive for Sunday’s game at Washington.

This will be the 13th game the fourth-year receiver has missed with various injuries since being drafted in 2011. He’s had hamstring problems, two concussions, a shoulder sprain (which he played through) and a sports hernia during the regular season, and he missed parts of OTAs and minicamp this past spring with a calf injury.

He finished the last two seasons on injured reserve.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The first draft pick of Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell's tenure to get cut is rookie defensive end Chris Smith.

The Jaguars waived the fifth-round pick on Saturday and signed rookie safety Craig Loston to the 53-man roster.

The Jaguars are without starting safety Johnathan Cyprien (concussion) for Sunday’s game at Washington and that left the Jaguars with just three healthy safeties on the active roster: Winston Guy, Josh Evans and Chris Prosinski. Evans will start in place of Cyprien.

Loston was among the Jaguars’ final cuts on Aug. 29 and was signed to the practice squad two days later.

Evans and Prosinski played after Cyprien left last Sunday’s game against Philadelphia with a concussion, and neither performed well. Evans missed three tackles and Prosinski bit on a play-action fake and crossing route, and that allowed Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin to run free for a 68-yard touchdown.

Smith was inactive for the season opener.

Smith is the first of Caldwell’s 17 draft picks to get cut, but it’s likely the team will try to re-sign him next week if he clears waivers.

Cyprien bigger loss than Shorts

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
2:55
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- While the Jacksonville Jaguars are encouraged that receiver Cecil Shorts could give them limited reps in Sunday’s game at Washington, the truth is that he likely won’t impact the team’s chances of winning much, if at all.

The Jaguars would much rather have safety Johnathan Cyprien, who is out with a concussion, on the field. The second-year player is a much more critical part of the team’s success than Shorts at this point.

Shorts is the team’s most experienced receiver -- 123 career catches, with Mike Brown the closest with 35 -- but the team is loaded with rookie talent at the spot and can weather the loss of Shorts. Undrafted Allen Hurns caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut and Marqise Lee, one of the Jaguars’ two second-round picks, had six receptions for 62 yards.

Granted, both players had critical drops in the second half, Lee quit on a route, and both had issues with where to line up at times and forced the Jaguars to burn timeouts. But Brown, Hurns, Lee and second-round pick Allen Robinson, who missed most of camp and all of the preseason with a hamstring injury and is starting to progress more quickly, at least give the Jaguars legitimate quality depth behind Shorts.

Cyprien
That’s not the case behind Cyprien, with second-year player Josh Evans and fourth-year player Chris Prosinski. Both played after Cyprien left last Sunday’s game against Philadelphia with a concussion, but neither performed well. Evans missed three tackles and Prosinski bit on a play-action fake and crossing route and that allowed Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin to run free for a 68-yard touchdown.

Evans is getting the start Sunday.

"He played a lot last year. He played a lot of free safety," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "We trained Josh to be able to play free and strong to have this flexibility so that if something happened to one of them he would be the first to go in. I know he’s got more confidence than he did last year, feels better with a week of practice being in there every rep, so we’ve got great confidence in him."

Evans got pulled from the Eagles game because of the missed tackles, which is why Prosinski was on the field. Bradley showed Evans tape of the missed tackles on the plane ride home from Philadelphia and Evans worked on tackling this week.

"I know Josh was very upset but we addressed it and it’s something we’ve got to get corrected," defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "It’s something that technique-wise we can address."

Even so, it’s a steep drop-off from Cyprien and the Jaguars are hoping he’ll clear the NFL’s concussion protocols and be back on the field in time for next week’s home opener against Indianapolis.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t run the ball well against Philadelphia last week. Coach Gus Bradley said for the team to do so going forward means the backs and offensive line need to be more connected.

It’s another way of saying they need to have chemistry, make the correct block, make the correct read and eliminate mistakes.

"We have to do a better job of tying the offensive line and the backs together because at times you see the offensive line doing everything right but maybe our tracking is off," Bradley said. "At times maybe we worked up to the second level to the wrong person and the running back is making the right track. I think it is that ability to put it all together and tie in together. It may just come back to trust -- trust that everybody is going to do their job and then you do your job."

Gerhart
The Jaguars ran for just 64 yards and averaged 2.6 yards per carry in the 34-17 loss to the Eagles, including just 1.9 yards per carry on 16 carries in the first half. Toby Gerhart had 42 yards on 18 carries but suffered an ankle sprain on his seventh carry.

"There were definitely some missed chances where one block away, maybe I put my foot in the ground too soon and could have stretched it another step or two to help them out, or whatever it may have been," Gerhart said. "We’re a young offensive line, young offensive team, and we’re going to have growing pains and we’re going to be on the upward trajectory."

Last Sunday was the first time the offensive line combination of left tackle Luke Joeckel, left guard Zane Beadles, center Jacques McClendon, right guard Brandon Linder and right tackle Cameron Bradfield have played together, but Bradfield said that had no bearing on why the Jaguars didn’t run the ball well.

"Were not making any excuses," he said. "It hasn’t been the same five guys but theoretically we’ve been playing together since OTAs. We just have to make that more of a focal point to go out there and get better."

The only way to do that is to keep running the ball. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has said numerous times that running the ball in the NFL involves a lot of short gains, sometimes negative plays and then some bigger gains sprinkled in here and there.

"You just have to break one or two," Fisch said. "We had an 11-yard run, 10-yard run, two 9-yard runs, a couple of 8-yard runs and a few 6, 5, 4 and three negative runs in the game, maybe four. Three of them came on mental errors. We had a third-and-one where we probably could have taken the edge on one and could have gone for 20 and all of a sudden it’s a hundred-yard game. We’ve got to just keep pounding it."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For one half on Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars were a good team.

They had a dominant pass rush, forced three turnovers, made big plays on offense, and controlled the pace of the game to take a 17-0 halftime lead over the Philadelphia Eagles.

It fell apart in the second half, though. Nothing worked on offense, the pass rush couldn't get home, and there were some miscommunication issues on defense that directly led to two big plays. The Eagles scored 34 unanswered points and won easily.

Coach Gus Bradley's message to his players after the game was simple: What happened in the first half is what is expected and what happened in the second is unacceptable.

"This summer I took a golf lesson and was hitting to the right and slicing and the pro said, 'You're not too far off now, just tweak the head of the club a little bit and you'll see that it will go straight,'" Bradley said. "It feels like, 'What happened? We're a ways away?' But we're really close. We have to take care of these things. We can no longer find these things acceptable, but I like our demeanor in the room. They take responsibility and they understand as well.

"It's pretty clear we went out in the first half and played really, really good football. To us, that's the standard."

The players are obviously disappointed in the outcome but defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said they are focusing on that first half because it's proof the franchise is moving forward in the second season of the Bradley/GM David Caldwell regime.

"Now we know what we're capable of," Marks said. “We showed something in the preseason. We showed all practice what we've been working on and to go out and do it and we see it -- I know on the sideline as the D-line we had the feeling of how it felt to be doing great. And to come out in the second half to see how it all unfolded, that's what was hurting.

"The feeling was we went from doing so great and we didn't perform well in the second half. How do we go about finishing? That's what stung the most about it. We have to see and figure out how to finish."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive and defensive snaps from Sunday’s 34-17 loss to Philadelphia:

Offense (73 total snaps)

QB Chad Henne: 73
LG Zane Beadles: 73
LT Luke Joeckel: 73
RG Brandon Linder: 73
C Jacques McClendon: 73
TE Marcedes Lewis: 69
WR Allen Hurns: 65
WR Marqise Lee: 64
RB Toby Gerhart: 48
TE Mickey Shuler: 31
WR Mike Brown: 29
RB Jordan Todman: 20
WR Allen Robinson: 20
FB Will Ta'ufo'ou: 13
RB Denard Robinson: 5
LT Sam Young: 1

Analysis: The biggest surprise was Denard Robinson playing just five snaps despite being No. 2 on the depth chart behind Gerhart. He touched the ball on three of those snaps (all rushes) and wasn’t used in the passing game. ... Lewis playing 69 snaps and Shuler playing 31 snaps is indicative of how vital it is for tight end Clay Harbor to get healthy. Lewis shouldn’t have to be on the field that much, and Shuler was targeted only once. Harbor is a better option in the passing game than Shuler, who has only been with the team since Aug. 31. ... Allen Robinson, who missed most of training camp and the entire preseason, saw action mainly on third down, and his playing time should increase this week.

Defense (87 total snaps)

CB Alan Ball: 87
S Winston Guy: 87
CB Dwayne Gratz: 85
LB Paul Posluszny: 81
DE Chris Clemons: 61
LB Geno Hayes: 59
CB Will Blackmon: 57
DT Sen'Derrick Marks: 56
DE Andre Branch: 53
S Josh Evans: 45
DT Roy Miller: 39
S Johnathan Cyprien: 34
DE Red Bryant: 33
DT Ziggy Hood: 31
LB LaRoy Reynolds: 30
DE Tyson Alualu: 30
LB Telvin Smith: 28
DE Ryan Davis: 22
DT Abry Jones: 22
S Chris Prosinski: 9
LB J.T. Thomas: 6
CB Demetrius McCray: 2

Analysis: The addition of Hood allowed the Jaguars to cut down on the number of snaps Marks played. He was on the field way too much last season, and though he put up a career year, the Jaguars wanted to reduce his load in 2014. Marks was still effective: five tackles (two for loss) and a sack. ... Cyprien missed the second half with a concussion and Evans got extended playing time in his place. ... Prosinski (in place of Evans) and Thomas (in place of Posluszny) were on the field for two of the Eagles’ biggest plays. Thomas was in for Darren Sproles' 49-yard TD run and Prosinski was in for Jeremy Maclin's 68-yard TD catch.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars rookie receiver Allen Hurns seems to be handling the adjustment from college to the NFL with little problem.

Catching four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns -- which came on the first two receptions of his career -- in the season opener against Philadelphia is pretty good proof of that. Whether his early success will continue throughout the entire season remains to be seen, but there’s a very good chance it will because Hurns appears to have a handle on the toughest part of the transition.

"Football IQ," receivers coach Jerry Sullivan said.

Rookie receivers generally have much less trouble with the physical aspects of the game than they do the mental part. Specifically, the ability to understand a new offense, adjust to the speed of the game, read and understand coverages, and know which alterations to make to routes based on the coverages they see. Plus, they have to develop a rapport with a new quarterback.

It’s a process that takes time, sometimes even more than a year. It’s obviously not an easy process, either, evidenced by the fact most receivers generally don’t make much of an impact as rookies. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only 42 rookie receivers have caught 50 or more passes over the past 20 seasons.

Both Hurns and Marqise Lee, who caught six passes for 62 yards against the Eagles, should have a chance to add to that list. Hurns especially, because he’s further along mentally than Lee thanks to the fact he’s already familiar with the Jaguars’ offense. Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch spent two years as the coordinator at the University of Miami during Hurns’ tenure there.

"I haven’t had much trouble at all," said Hurns, whom the Jaguars signed as an undrafted free agent. "It’s everything I expected. I know the playbook so it eliminates all the thinking so I haven’t faced very much trouble at all."

Lee, one of the Jaguars’ second-round draft picks, had a stellar career in a pro-style offense USC, but he has come along more slowly than Hurns. In the Jaguars’ first preseason game he had trouble remembering the routes he was supposed to run and the proper adjustments to make so he didn’t see a ball thrown his way. He said he has improved but things still aren’t second nature.

"I’ve got to get a great understanding of really listening in the huddle before coming out so I can actually get it before I actually step out of the huddle," Lee said. "I find myself most times when I get the play jogging out as I’m thinking rather than sitting there waiting until [quarterback] Chad [Henne] is done to actually really think about what I’ve got to get going before I actually get lined up."

Sullivan has also been talking to the team’s three rookie receivers -- Allen Robinson, another second-round pick, is behind Hurns and Lee because he missed most of camp and all of the preseason with a hamstring injury -- about how much quicker the game will be during the regular season. It’s one thing to go up against second- and third-teamers trying to make a roster in the preseason than it is to face a first-string defense on every snap.

Even players with a good mental grasp of the game can get stung by the pace of a regular-season game, Sullivan said.

"Exhibition games you had the veterans play the first quarter and they don’t play [after that] so it’s a little different," Sullivan said. "You get in the regular season the speed of the game is fast. The ability of people to make plays and to close the distance is kind of sometimes almost awe-inspiring to a guy who in college ran away from people. All of a sudden he gets the ball and they’re all right there."

Receiver might be the toughest position in which to make the transition from college to the NFL, and Hurns guessed that the players who struggle do so because they’re thinking too much.

"They’re trying to do too much at one time and not just slowing things down and sticking to what they do in practice," Hurns said. "So I just feel like they get too eager once game time comes. It’s not that they don’t have the athletic ability. It’s just that they’re out there overthinking and trying to do too much."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An examination of what the Jacksonville Jaguars must do after their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:

The Jaguars’ offense finished the 2013 season last in the NFL in third-down efficiency, and it’s one of the reasons why Jacksonville averaged fewer than 16 points per game and had the 31st-ranked offense in the NFL.

Henne
Things didn’t get off to a better start this season. The Jaguars converted just 2 of 14 third downs against the Eagles, and that was one of the big reasons the offense bogged down after a good start in the first quarter. The problem is, however, that the Jaguars’ lack of success on third down can’t be traced back to one cause.

The poor conversion rate is the result of several offensive issues:

The interior of the offensive line struggled in the run game and pass protection.

Several receivers dropped passes.

Quarterback Chad Henne had a couple of passes batted down and misfired on several others.

It’s not a coincidence that the Jaguars were also one of the NFL’s worst teams on first down last season (30th in average yards gained at 4.79), because a lack of success on first down generally results in teams facing longer third downs. Against the Eagles, the Jaguars had 28 first-down plays and gained 1 or fewer yards on 12 of them. The Jaguars’ average gain on first down was 4.1 yards -- a total skewed by Henne’s 46-yard completion to Allen Hurns. Take that play out and the Jaguars averaged just 2.6 yards on first down.

That obviously set the Jaguars up with a tougher task on third down, and they couldn’t covert. They went 0-for-9 before finally converting a third down in the third quarter, and they faced third-and-7 or longer 10 times.

"It’s tougher, but you’ve still got to be able to execute in those downs and distances," coach Gus Bradley said.

The Jaguars converted only a third-and-9 in the third quarter and a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

"We have to make plays when the opportunity presents itself," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. "We have to make the right read, catch the ball, hold up in protection and get that tough yard. The other thing we have to do is put them in a position to succeed schematically. [We have to] continue to find ways to let our players perform at the highest level.

"... Percentage-wise, you have to find a way to get one or two more third downs per game. That’s really been our message from the very first day of OTAs -- one, maybe two more third-down conversions per game."

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