JACKSONVILLE – As Gus Bradley sees it, the good news is the run game improved.
The better news is that a run game that turned in its best game of the season Sunday can improve more, and the last part is what the Jaguars' head coach emphasized Monday.
"There is a lot that is out there, a lot more opportunities," Bradley said.
The Jaguars, after entering Sunday ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing, rushed for a season-high 205 yards on 32 carries in a 19-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bradley on Monday credited new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's emphasis on the run for the improvement, and said the team entered the game with the idea that it would not abandon the rushing game even if the area struggled.
"No matter even if we got behind some, we weren't going to leave it," Bradley said. "I give credit to Nathaniel and the offensive staff for putting together a plan. I thought they had some runs that they felt like would be good. I think there were some new runs or style of runs, maybe not the blocking, but the deception in the backfield.
"I think there was a strong conviction up front. The offensive line did a good job."
Running back Chris Ivory rushed for a season-high 107 yards on 18 carries, and running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 33 yards on seven carries. Bradley said while the front-side blocking was good for the most part Sunday improvement could come in back-end blocking.
"We can take this from where we're at and build on it," Bradley said. "I think they're going to watch the tape and feel like there's more out there for us."
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed 22 of 41 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. While he narrowly averted multiple other interceptions, Bradley said it appeared Bortles benefitted from the improved running game.
"When you get the run going – you saw it there were more play[-action] passes that came of it," Bradley said. "That's why it's so important, why it has to be each and every week. It's hard to get 100 yards every week but the commitment to the run has to be there because it goes hand-in-hand. It helps the quarterback and it helps the receivers."
Wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Allen Hurns will begin the week in the NFL's concussion protocol. Walters was examined during the game and cleared to return before being placed in the protocol after the game. Hurns was removed from the game and placed in the protocol after hitting his head on the turf in the second half.
Linebacker Myles Jack also sustained a hip flexor strain and was removed from the game. He was being evaluated Monday.
Bortles received stitches for a chin laceration after the game and will not appear on the injury report this week.
Bradley on Monday also addressed the officials' decision to uphold a lost fumble by Ivory midway through the fourth quarter. Ivory ran up the middle on second-and-goal from the Chiefs 1, fumbling when reaching the ball toward the end zone. The Chiefs recovered. At least one television replay appeared to show Ivory scoring, but NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino later released a video in which he said there was not enough conclusive evidence to overturn the call. "I have to be careful here with this," Bradley said Monday. "I think the one they saw – the video they saw – was accurate. Sometimes there are different views. We get different views than they do. All I can tell you is that the view that we saw – we have an end zone view – that gives you a different look at it. In our mind, when we looked at it, it looked like he crossed it before the ball came out. They don't have that view at that time."
Bradley said he shortened Monday's team meeting and his meeting with coordinators to allow Hackett added time to meet with the offense. Hackett took over as coordinator from Greg Olson nine days ago and Bradley said the offensive players are still learning the details of Hackett's system, philosophy and approach. "They've really had three or four days," Bradley said. "The more time he has with our players, that's very beneficial." Bradley said while the basic offensive system didn't change when Hackett replaced Olson, the approach and many beliefs are different. "I think there's a short window to get as much in as he can," Bradley said. "That's why today was important, that the offense gets a lot of time with him so he can talk about situations and how he thinks. The thing with Nate that's very powerful is he's a big 'why' guy. For our players, they kind of see the big picture. You need time with the players to understand the whys."
"We're trying to get him around the ball a little bit more because he does have those instincts. He's going to get some opportunities and he has to take advantage of it. I'm not too disappointed where he's at."
--Bradley on Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson