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Notes and observations: Looking for an answer

Posted Oct 4, 2017

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles on replacing the impact of WR Allen Robinson: “We have to find different ways to get the same result”

 

JACKSONVILLE – Four weeks later, this question remains tough:

How do the Jaguars replace Allen Robinson’s presence?

With the Pro Bowl wide receiver having missed all but three plays this season – and with his season over because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained Week 1 – the Jaguars continue to look for an answer.

“There’s definitely an impact of A-Rob being out on what we do,” quarterback Blake Bortles said Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-2) prepared to play the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Robinson, a 2015 Pro Bowl selection, led the Jaguars in receiving each of the past two seasons. He caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns during his 2015 Pro Bowl season, then caught 73 passes for 883 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Marqise Lee has 13 receptions for 159 yards and no touchdowns in four starts this season, and Allen Hurns – who moved into the starting lineup when Robinson was injured – has 16 receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Jaguars receivers had 70 total yards receiving in a loss to the New York Jets Sunday.

But beyond statistics, Robinson for two seasons had been the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver – a player whose size (6-feet-3, 209 pounds) and ability to make receptions at the highest point made him a reliable red-zone and third down target.

“There are things we’re asking guys to do to try to compensate for that – things we’re asking them to do differently,” Bortles said. “We know what A-Rob could have done and we know what he can do – how he can go down the field attack and go, how he can high-point balls … we know all that.

“That adds a different element to your team and your offense. So, not having him be able to do that, we have to find different ways to get the same result.”

Bortles said “high-point, 50-50” pass plays remain in the Jaguars’ offense.

“They’re still there,” he said. “You have to find who the guy who goes and does it. Is it [rookie] Keelan [Cole]? Is it ‘Qise [Lee]? Is it ‘Cedes [tight end Marcedes Lewis]? We’re figuring out who can do that stuff, because any time it was Allen one-on-one there were going to be chances he could make a play.

“We’re still in the process of figuring that out. We have to give guys chances in games.”

Notes and observations from around EverBank Field Wednesday:

*That Jaguars defensive players talked Wednesday about the need for gap-integrity was understandable; players out of gaps in the team’s gap-control defense led to the Jaguars allowing the Jets 256 yards rushing Sunday. Safety Tashaun Gipson said the presence of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell makes gap integrity critical Sunday. “You have to be real sound,” said Gipson, who played Bell four times in 2013-2014 while playing for the Cleveland Browns. “The moment you slide out of a gap thinking he’s in the opposite gap, that’s when you lose him. He’s that patient of a runner where you truly have to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to make him commit to wherever gap he’s going to run and he’s going to hit it before I truly commit.’ If not, he’s going to find that hole and beat you. I’ve seen that guy find holes three gaps to his blind side. It’s a unique thing for a running back his size to have such good feet, patience and vision. I’ve never seen anything like it. You have to respect it.” …

*The Jaguars are 3-2 all-time at Heinz Field, with two of the victories coming in 2007 – one in the regular season and the other in the Jaguars’ last postseason victory. Only two players remain on the roster from the Jaguars’ last trip to Heinz Field in 2011: middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and tight end Marcedes Lewis, the latter of whom was in his second NFL season in 2007. “That’s one thing I was preaching to the guys before we even went out to practice today: the mindset has to be in the right place,” Lewis said Wednesday. “Those guys have a mystique of how they play and we have to bring it to them.” …

*Three Jaguars players missed practice Wednesday: wide receiver Marqise Lee (ribs), safety Jarrod Wilson (shoulder) and center Brandon Linder (illness). Wide receiver Jaelen Strong (hamstring), cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle), running back Leonard Fournette (ankle), fullback Tommy Bohanon (knee), defensive end Lerentee McCray (knee), guard A.J. Cann (hand) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (groin) practiced limited. Bortles (right wrist) and linebacker Donald Payne (hamstring) were on the injury report and listed as working full. …

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