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Bryant out 2-4; Coughlin harsh on coverage, scheme

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The players don't like the scheme. Coach Tom Coughlin took exception to the players and the scheme that allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to throw for 373 yards Thursday night.

"Our coverage was soft. It was off. We didn't challenge many throws," Coughlin told the media today, following the Jaguars' 28-23, come-from-behind win over the Chiefs.

His disappointment in the performance of his pass-defense was coupled with the news that starting left cornerback Fernando Bryant will be out 2-4 weeks with a shoulder separation he suffered in last night's game. "I'm hoping two," Coughlin said, hoping Bryant would make it back into the lineup by Sept. 9, when the Jaguars open the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As for now, Coughlin focused on last night's deficiencies. He expressed dissatisfaction with the coverage scheme, and he was bluntly critical of the collective performance of his defensive backs.

"That was by design," he said of the cushion-coverage scheme that had the cornerbacks playing anywhere from 8-11 yards off the receiver at the line of scrimmage. "I want it to be contested, even when it's off. Our coverage has got to tighten up."

There are a couple of ways those remarks can be interpreted. Clearly, Coughlin was blaming his defensive backs for not closing the gap between themselves and the receiver when the ball was in the air, but it also sounded as though the head coach has instructed his new defensive coordinator, Gary Moeller, to be more aggressive and more creative in his coverage schemes.

"That's not the direction I want to go," he said of playing a passive style of coverage. "I don't want to sit there in a predictable coverage. We got caught in that coverage more than I want," he added of a three-deep zone scheme.

"You must mix the coverages up. You must confuse the quarterback. You can't allow people to realize you're in one coverage," Coughlin added.

The performance of the pass-defense and the Jaguars' inability to rush the football against the Chiefs were Coughlin's greatest laments, but he was understanding of the rushing woes because of the slow development of his offensive line and the fact that the Chiefs played a lot of eight-man defensive fronts.

"If it was the first preseason game, I'd feel a lot better than if it was the third. You're not going to win any football games like that," he said, referring to a 48-18 play-count deficit in the first half.

However, he would not excuse his pass-defense. He saw it crumble in several games a year ago, and he's in a major emphasis to correct a facet of the defense that plagued the Jaguars even in 1999, when the defense held a number one ranking for most of the season.

"The last couple of years, we've had some problems in that way. The big chunks can't happen," Coughlin said.

"I don't sit in there and scheme with them," he said of his defensive staff. "I watch the tape and ask, why?"

Apparently, that was the question he posed to Moeller this morning.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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