JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the day after the Jaguars' victory over the Tennessee Titans Thursday
1)Prime-time, go-to guy.We begin next-day takeaways with wide receiver Allen Robinson, who had one of the best games of his short career Thursday. Robinson, a second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, entered the season wanting to make more big plays, to win more 50-50 balls and to be more aggressive. Check, check, check. He caught five passes for 113 yards Thursday, and was the Jaguars' best offensive player on a night the unit struggled otherwise. He has 50 receptions for 871 yards and seven touchdowns this season with three games over 100 yards receiving, and the faith quarterback Blake Bortles has in Robinson's ability to make plays on 50-50 balls grows more obvious by the week. "Wherever the ball is thrown, if it's not perfectly thrown, he has the ability to go up and make plays," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "That's what we recognize out of Allen Robinson is his catch radius, the ability to go up, use his God-given traits and abilities. We have a lot of faith in him." Robinson is averaging 17.4 yards per reception and three times this season he has averaged more than 20 yards per reception while catching at least four passes. Entering the season, it was unclear if the Jaguars had a No. 1 receiver. Robinson's case gets stronger by the week.
2)Going for it.The Jaguars' short-yardage issues this season have been well-documented – and frustrating. They occurred again Thursday, with running back Denard Robinson stopped three times after the Jaguars had first-and-goal on the Titans 7-yard line in the third quarter. That situation seemed similar to Toby Gerhart being stopped on four consecutive runs in London in Week 7, but Thursday had some wrinkles that Bradley discussed Friday. The first involved Robinson's first run, which came after a reception by Allen Robinson at the Titans 7. Because Robinson's reception appeared questionable, the offense went into what Bradley called "attack mode," meaning they wanted to run a play quickly before the Titans could challenge. That run by Denard Robinson was successful, going to the 2-yard line. At that point, Bradley figured the Jaguars were in four-down territory if either of the next two plays reached at least the 1. "There was a strong percentage we were going to go for it," Bradley said. "We felt like we could get it on three downs by running the ball. When we lost yardage on the third down it went back to where we kicked the field goal." Jason Myers' 20-yard field goal gave the Jaguars a 9-6 lead.
Take a look back at some of the best images from the Jaguars' 19-13 win over the Titans on Thursday Night Football.
3)Cyp.The maturation of Johnathan Cyprien may be taking place before our eyes – and it may be happening pretty rapidly. The second-year safety registered seven tackles Thursday, and has played perhaps the best stretch of his three-year career in recent weeks. "The challenge was to consistently show up, consistently make the plays that you're capable of making," Bradley said. "He has stacked up at least three games that he's played really well." Bradley on Friday said Cyprien has tackled well in the open field in recent weeks, and that he is playing with poise. "He knows when to be aggressive and when to be patient," Bradley said. "It's coming together for him. It's still a challenge, though. He has to keep showing up like this every week. It was never a lack of effort. It was never a lack of want-to. It was just allowing the plays to come to him. He's making plays that come to him, so we're very pleased with the way he's progressed, especially in the last three weeks."
4)Blitz, baby. Bradley still doesn't love the idea of all-blitz, all-the time. But overall he said the reward in recent weeks has been worth the risk. Though the Jaguars' defensive philosophy is to pressure with four down linemen, they have struggled all season in that area. Bradley said before a Week 7 game against Buffalo the team would try to scheme more and bring pressure with five or six defenders. With the exception of a loss to the New York Jets when Ryan Fitzpatrick's ability to throw quickly prevented the approach, the Jaguars indeed have blitzed more in recent weeks. The Jaguars finished with four sacks Thursday, one of which came on a blitz by cornerback Aaron Colvin. "We're bringing a little bit more pressure," Bradley said. "There are times when we do this they're going to have some explosive plays. They (the Titans) had some explosive runs, which we're not used to – and a couple of them were off of pressures. But we also put some pressure on the quarterback. We'll continue to look at the opponent and have a plan for it based on what they do offensively. But thus far, I think it's been a pretty good mix."
5)Beginning to mesh.From the credit-where-it's-due department, the Jaguars' special teams may have had its best game of the season Thursday. Not only were the season-long struggles of rookie kicker Jason Myers well documented, the unit had struggled in punt coverage and hadn't had a momentum-changing return. Myers on Thursday converted all four field goals and his only extra point. Punter Bryan Anger had a 44.3-yard net average on four punts with three inside the 20. The Jaguars allowed 5.0 yards per return on three punt returns and rookie Rashad Greene's 63-yard punt return to set up the go-ahead touchdown with 3:30 remaining. "Overall, very pleased with special teams," Bradley said. "It was a big challenge for them. I think part of it, too, was playing at home. You can feel the energy in the special teams unit. We challenged them to lay it on the line and I think they did that."