JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the day after the Jaguars' loss to the Tennessee Titans Sunday
1)More needed at the Leo.We begin this Monday takeaways on the Jaguars' pass rush, and as might be expected, the focus after Sunday's loss remained on the Leo position. The Leo is critical to the Jaguars' pass rush, and as previously has been the case, Head Coach Gus Bradley on Monday said the edge-rusher position – particularly Chris Clemons and Andre Branch – hasn't produced enough this season. Clemons, a 12-year veteran who signed as a free agent from Seattle in the 2014 offseason, has two sacks this season and has been credited with 10 hurries by Pro Football Focus. Branch, a second-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2012 NFL Draft, has two sacks and 12 pressures. "What we're getting out of the Leo the last couple of weeks, we need to try to find a way to get more," Bradley said, adding that while the pair has struggled rushing the passer they have played well against the run. "What we're hoping to get out of that position, we're not getting exactly what we want." Bradley discussed playing second-year veteran Chris Smith more at the position. Smith has been inactive eight of the last nine games but recorded a pressure against the San Diego Chargers on November 29. "We have to get more production out of it," Bradley said.
2)No change in coordinator duties.Defense was a major topic for Bradley Monday, with the Jaguars allowing 467 yards and five touchdowns offensively Sunday. The unit also continued to struggle on third downs, with the season-long pass-rush issues contributing to the Titans converting eight of 13 third-down opportunities. Bradley on Monday discussed the dilemma of whether to blitz thereby risking allowing big plays or to rush with four linemen thereby allowing quarterbacks time in the pocket. What he did not discuss long was a possible change in defensive play-calling duties, which have been handled by defensive coordinator Bob Babich since 2013. "When we go in there and meet as a defensive coaching staff, it's to try to find ways to put our guys in better position to make plays – whether through pressures or whether it's through different alignments," Bradley said. "We're all going through the same battles, so it's not necessarily the call. We go up there, it's on the board, we decide how we're going to go about it and you have to play it. I don't think fundamentally we are good as we've been other games."
3)Something missing.More concerning to Bradley on Monday than defensive playcalling were 16 missed tackles against the Titans. He said part of the issue could be the schemes and blitz packages added in recent weeks could be leading to players being slightly out of position. That can lead to bad leverage, which Bradley said in turn can lead to poor tackling. "We're competing to try to figure out what works best for our guys," Bradley said. "We have some good players. Right now, we're not playing fast. That's what we need to take a look at more. What we're getting out of the Leo the last couple of weeks, we need to try to find a way to get more… With adding more things, we've added more pressures, we've added more coverage concepts. I don't know if that's slowing us down. … By us not playing fast, you're seeing more missed tackles and missed assignments. It's coming back to haunt us. I think that's more the issue."
4)A matter of trust. How much does Bradley trust Jason Myers? That's a legitimate question considering the rookie kicker has missed six extra points this season, including two on Sunday and three in the last two games. Myers has converted 22 of 26 field goals this season, and except for a miss from 26 yards against Baltimore he has made all of his field-goal attempts since missing two game-winners at Indianapolis on October 4. "I trust him in field goals," Bradley said. "I think he's done a good job there. It (Myers' 84.6 field-goal percentage) is pretty good. I think compared to other people that have been here in their career if he continues that that would be a good number, but it's the extra points. … That's the part that we need to get right." Bradley said Myers planted his plant foot wrong on the first miss Sunday, while the snap was off on his fourth-quarter miss.
5)Better and better. Bradley began his press conference Monday by calling Sunday's game perhaps the Jaguars' most complete game of the season offensively. Part of that was quarterback Blake Bortles' five-touchdown, no-interception performance and part was wide receiver Allen Robinson catching 10 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns. But the offensive line also pass-blocked well, and Bradley said rookie running back T.J. Yeldon continued to progress and impress as an every-down back. Yeldon not only rushed for 57 yards on 15 carries and caught four passes for 79 yards, Bradley said he blocked well in pass protection. "He had a really good day yesterday," Bradley said. "We mentioned before that we thought we were getting a guy that would be a first and second-down back. We would hope that he would come along as a third-down back and he's exceeded that expectation."