FOXBORO, Mass. – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the day after the Jaguars' loss to the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts
1. No do-overs.We begin Day After Takeaways with the Jaguars' defensive approach Sunday, an approach Head Coach Gus Bradley on Monday said he might have altered given the opportunity. While some questioned the Jaguars trying to pressure Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with four down linemen rather than blitzing, Bradley said his main regret focused on coverage. The Jaguars' plan was to keep New England's receivers in front of the defense to prevent big plays, but the Patriots' efficient, short passing game helped produce 35 first downs and scores on their first nine possessions. The Patriots also converted 11 of 14 third downs. "We played a bit of split-safety looks to keep things in front of us," Bradley said. "What they (the Patriots) were doing, it created some openings in some zones and we just couldn't fit it up as tight as we needed to. We were going into it looking at matchups, how we would match up with them. We figured we'd take our shots and then with some injuries we ended up playing more split-safety because of the personnel. I think earlier we could have been more aggressive."
2. Toll taken.Bradley was reluctant on Monday to discuss injuries as a huge factor in the outcome. But his answer about the coverage does reflect how injuries can influence in-game approach. The Jaguars were without cornerback Dwayne Gratz and safety Jonathan Cyprien entering the game, then lost strong safety Josh Evans, free safety Sergio Brown and cornerback Davon House to injuries during the game. The loss of Evans and Brown meant the Jaguars were playing much of Sunday's game with rookie James Sample at one safety and cornerback Peyton Thompson at the other. Sample missed the first three preseason games with a broken arm and Thompson signed off the practice squad to the active roster a day before the Jaguars' Week 2 victory over Miami. That's a lot of inexperience against a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a factor that made it tough to be overly aggressive.
2a. Gratz improving. Speaking of Gratz, the third-year cornerback walked without a boot during the team's open locker-room period Monday, and said he ran on Monday afternoon. He hopes to work on some level in practice Wednesday.
3.Doing as he says.Marqise Lee's difficulties continued Sunday, and he said Monday he plans to keep trying whatever possible to stay on the field. The second-year wide receiver was downgraded from probable to questionable Saturday because of a knee situation. After running Sunday morning, he was active, but left when he experienced soreness in the hamstring that kept him out of much of training camp and the regular-season opener. "I don't think it's as bad as the other times, to tell you the truth," Lee said. "I didn't pop it. I didn't pull it. It got sore and a little stiff, so the trainers did what the trainers do. That's their job." Lee said he continued to run on the sidelines. "I felt like I could have went in, but in those cases we don't have that choice," he said. "In those cases, it's up the trainers." Lee said he expects to play Sunday against Indianapolis.
4. Keep it simple.Not surprisingly, quarterback Blake Bortles was a topic when Bradley spoke Monday. It's difficult to call anything a turning point in a 34-point loss, but the score was 13-3 when safety Devin McCourty intercepted a pass that Bortles threw out of reach of tight end Marcedes Lewis. The Patriots scored on the ensuing possession and quickly ran the lead to 30-10. "On offense, sometimes we take the simple things and make them more difficult than what they need to be," Bradley said. "That's where we're at now offensively." Bradley later specified he indeed was speaking mostly about Bortles, using as an example Bortles going away from his reads in an effort to get tight ends such as Marcedes Lewis more involved in the offense. "The lessons I think he's learning right now are to say, 'Although we make an emphasis (to) try to get the tight ends involved and take pressure off the offense you've still got to follow through with the progression,'" Bradley said, adding, "He needs not to make it as complicated as he wants to make it. Some of the reads, he's just got to trust his progression."
Images of the Jaguars Week 3 matchup with the New England Patriots.
5. Seize advantage.Bradley spent equal time Monday discussing the offense and defense. When discussing the offense, Bradley said his biggest concern is consistency and taking advantage of opportunities. "We have opportunities for big plays," Bradley said. "The margin for error right now for us is tight. With that, when plays are there to make we have to make them. That's not what we're doing right now on a consistent basis." While Bradley focused on Bortles needing to keep things simpler, he said he likes that the quarterback is taking more chances downfield. This was an area of focus following a loss to Carolina in the opener, and Bradley said it has improved over the last two games. "That's a good sign," Bradley said.