JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Wednesday that was around EverBank Field as the Jaguars prepared to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I DO SEE DIFFERENCES"
A few days in, Gus Bradley said he sees change.
That's about as specific as the Jaguars' fourth-year head coach would get Wednesday when discussing what he has seen thus far from new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
But while Bradley declined to provide much detail about how Hackett will impact the offense, he did say he liked what he had seen thus far as the team prepared for Sunday's game at Kansas City.
"He's a very, very good communicator," Bradley said of Hackett. "He's a very good listener and he'll explain why. Nowadays, they [players] want to know why. Not, 'Why are we doing this?' but, 'Why are these principles working together?' It allows them to play faster. He does a great job with that."
Hackett, the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach since the start of the 2015 season, on Saturday was promoted to offensive coordinator. Bradley dismissed offensive coordinator Greg Olson the same day.
Bradley on Wednesday was asked about specific areas Hackett could improve.
"That's a million-dollar question," Bradley said of Hackett, who spent 2013 and 2014 as the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator. "I do see some differences, and I think it's difference in philosophy. For the players, they're in the building and in the meeting room … it feels different for them. I don't know how much more in-depth I can go without saying too much, but I think for them it's relieved some anxiety for them and allowed them to play freer.
"Not saying it was Oley's fault. We all take responsibility. But I feel that part of it now."
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said he and Hackett spoke extensively this week and this past weekend by telephone.
"He's excited," Wash said. "He's going to do a great job."
Hackett and Bradley both spoke on Monday of a need for balance offensively with an emphasis on improving a running game that has produced just one 100-yard performance in seven games this season. Wash said Hackett's history and philosophy leaves little doubt about that emphasis.
"He is very confident," noting that the Jaguars' staff coached against Hackett when Hackett was the offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2013. The Bills rushed 44 times for 198 yards and a touchdown in a 27-20 Buffalo victory in Jacksonville, with Bills running backs carrying 34 times for 164 yards.
"It's a mindset with him that he's going to try to run the football and make it a big point of emphasis," Wash said. "I know our offense is excited about it and we're excited about it."
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles worked with his personal quarterbacks coach – Southern California-based Adam Dedeaux – Monday and Tuesday at EverBank Field, something he said Monday he planned to do. Bortles on Wednesday said the work was designed to "tighten the release and shorten things up," adding, "For me, it will be a never-ending process on trying to better and somewhat maintain my mechanics." Bortles has thrown 12 touchdown passes with nine interceptions this season, but struggled with accuracy while throwing for fewer than 75 yards in the first half of the last two games. "It's really a cool relationship they have, and there's a lot of trust between them," Bradley said of Bortles and Dedeaux.
FOLES BEHIND CENTER
The Jaguars' opponent will have a new starting quarterback Sunday, with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid saying Wednesday Nick Foles will start in place of Alex Smith. Smith remains in the NFL's concussion protocol after being removed from a victory over the Colts Sunday. Foles completed 16 of 22 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns playing in place of Smith Sunday. He completed 27 of 45 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns with an interception for Philadelphia in a 34-17 Eagles victory over the Jaguars in the 2014 regular-season opener. "He's very talented, makes good decisions," Bradley said of Foles."He just does a very good job. He's very efficient."
BACK AT IT
Jaguars defensive end Jared Odrick (foot/ankle), cornerback Aaron Colvin (calf), right tackle Jermey Parnell (calf) and left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) practiced limited on Wednesday, with Odrick the only player of that group who missed last Thursday's loss at Tennessee.
Tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) and Otto linebacker Myles Jack (illness) did not participate in practice Wednesday. Bradley said he expected Thomas to play Sunday.
"We did a lot [of soul-searching following a loss 36-22 loss to Tennessee last Thursday]. It wasn't us. We felt like we had a good week of practice and to go out there and play like that was very disappointing. That's why we can't say it was this fault, or it was the offense's fault. The defense didn't stop anybody to give us a chance. We definitely have to look at ourselves as a whole team. We know we have the pieces. We just have to go out there and start executing."
---Defensive tackle Malik Jackson