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Notes and observations: “We’re expecting excuses”

Posted Oct 11, 2017

CB A.J. Bouye on observers overlooking the Jaguars’ defense in 2017: “We’re expecting excuses. We’re not going to get the recognition we want. … We can’t focus on it”

JACKSONVILLE – A.J. Bouye is tired of hearing excuses.

The Jaguars’ cornerback isn’t talking about him making excuses, or his teammates making them.

No, Bouye on Wednesday afternoon said he’s tired of NFL observers having an “excuse” every time the Jaguars’ defense – and indeed, the team as a whole – turns in an impressive victory.

“They always make excuses for everybody,” Bouye said as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (3-2) prepared to play the Los Angeles Rams (3-2) at EverBank Field Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

“They play good until they play us, then the excuses come.”

The Jaguars this season have won their three victories in dominant fashion, registering a franchise-record 10 sacks in a 29-7 victory over Houston in Week 1, taking a 44-0 lead en route to a 44-7 victory over Baltimore in Week 3 and registering a franchise-record five interceptions in a 30-9 victory at Pittsburgh this past Sunday.

The Jaguars this season rank No. 3 in the NFL against the pass, and lead the league in sacks (20), takeaways (15) and points off turnovers. But Bouye said more focus is on other teams playing poorly than the Jaguars possibly playing well.

He expanded on that late in his Wednesday conversation with the media:

“We just use it as motivation. People say we won the Houston game because [quarterback] Deshaun Watson didn’t play in the first half; the last time I checked, they only scored seven points in the second half. Baltimore was the next big thing. They were 2-0 and had the best defense [entering the game]. We win, and all of a sudden [Ravens quarterback] Joe Flacco doesn’t have it anymore. … [Steelers quarterback] Ben [Roethlisberger] only threw two interceptions coming in [to the game against the Jaguars]. AB [Steelers wide receiver Antonio Bryant] was averaging over 100 yards. He plays us and all of a sudden, he [Roethlisberger] doesn’t have it anymore. We’re expecting excuses. We’re not going to get the recognition we want. So, I told them [teammates on the Jaguars’ defense] we can’t focus on it. All we can do is let our work speak for itself, and that’s one thing we’re going to continue to try to do.”

Also on Wednesday:

*How good is Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette? How much is he defining the offense? Good enough and enough so that tight end Marcedes Lewis on Wednesday called him “a mixture of Fred Taylor and Maurice [Jones-Drew].” That’s high praise considering Lewis began his career when both Taylor and Jones-Drew – Pro Bowl running backs who are the franchise’s two all-time leading rushers -- were playing for the Jaguars in 2006-2007. “He’s super physical, will run away from you and run you over,” Lewis said. “He might even wave you like, ‘Come on, you’re about to get this action.’ It’s good to have that type of running back in the backfield. It’s been a little bit since we’ve had somebody like that in the backfield. He makes it fun to block for.” …

*The Jaguars rank No. 1 in the NFL in rushing through five games, and are the league’s only team averaging more yards rushing per game (165.2) than passing (159.6). They ran on 37 of 52 plays against Pittsburgh Sunday and finished with 231 yards rushing. But while quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown fewer passes (135) than any other NFL quarterback with at least five starts this season, he said Wednesday, “Eventually you’re going to have to throw it. You’re going to have to beat people throwing the ball because you can only block so many guys. We know it. We understand that. … We’re going to get the opportunity to throw the ball down the field and work off play action.” The Jaguars’ lone game this season decided by seven points or less was a 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets in Week 4. “We’ve been together and have had to do that before,” Bortles said of needing to throw to win late in games. “Guys are comfortable throwing the football, moving the ball down the field, doing stuff like that, so I think when that situation comes up, we’ll be able to transition and go from a team that likes to run the ball and pound it, to a team that can move it and throw the ball down the field.” …

*Center Brandon Linder (illness) was the only Jaguars player missing practice Wednesday, with Fournette (ankle), cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle), running back Chris Ivory (hip), guard Patrick Omameh (hip) practicing on a limited basis. The following players were listed on the injury report working full: Bortles (right wrist), wide receiver Jaelen Strong (hamstring), wide receiver Marqise Lee (ribs), safety Jarrod Wilson (shoulder), linebacker Lerentee McCray (knee) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (groin). …

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