JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' special teams weren't special Sunday.
The unit therefore was a major topic when Head Coach Gus Bradley met with the media Monday in the wake of Sunday's 25-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Jaguars' special teams, which have struggled for the last two months, not only allowed a 53-yard return to Cordarrelle Patterson Sunday, they committed a slew of penalties and had two kicks partially or fully blocked.
"It wasn't up to our par," Bradley said.
Kicker Jason Myers converted three of three first-half field goals, and running back Corey Grant converted a fake punt with a nine-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 34 in the first quarter. But the special teams hurt Sunday in a slew of ways:
*A holding penalty on long snapper Carson Tinker in the first quarter.
*A 41-yard missed field goal by Myers in the third quarter.
*A partially blocked punt in the fourth quarter.
*A blocked 61-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
*A five-yard penalty on wide receiver Arrelious Benn for illegally touching a punt in the fourth quarter.
*A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on tight end Alex Ellis for roughing the punter in the fourth quarter.
*A five-yard, delay-of-game penalty called against Myers on a kickoff in the third quarter.
Bradley said the delay penalty came because the Jaguars were changing from kicking deep to squibbing because of a look the Vikings showed.
"That one you can put on us as coaches," Bradley said. "We changed personnel as far as how they were aligned on the kickoff team. We switched it and the call got in, but the players didn't recognize it. There was communication taking place."
Bradley said the second-half special teams performance overall "uncharacteristic" and called it a "shared responsibility" between coaches and players.
"You put in a game plan and you ask the players to execute and that's their job," Bradley said. "It's also our job as coaches to put players in a position to make plays. I think you saw both take place [Sunday]."
Sunday's game was the latest in a long stretch in which special teams have hurt the Jaguars. The punt coverage team allowed a long return to set up a score in five games leading to Sunday, and punt returners lost a fumble in three consecutive games at the start of the current eight-game losing streak.
"To say, 'No, no, no, we're good' – that's not the case," Bradley said. "I've had quite a few meetings with [special teams coordinator Mike Mallory] on this. A couple of years ago we were very good on our coverage units. … As a coach, you always take responsibility first. I know Mal feels the same way. You see what you coach, then you go from there. The players also have to look at it the same way."
PLEASED WITH JACK'S PROGRESS
Bradley on Monday discussed rookie linebacker Myles Jack, who played 12 plays on Sunday. Jack has started the past eight games at Otto linebacker, sharing snaps with veteran Dan Skuta when the latter has been healthy. Because the Otto typically comes off the field in nickel situations, snaps for both players have been reduced. "It's not that he's not doing anything," Bradley said of Jack. "Some of it is based on the personnel groupings that we saw. We chose that if they [the Vikings] went to a heavier personnel grouping it would be a chance to get Dan on the field a little more." Bradley said he overall likes how Jack is playing. "We're very pleased with his progress."
"FRUSTRATING ON BOTH SIDES"
Bradley on Monday also discussed defensive end Jared Odrick and tight end Julius Thomas, both of whom were placed on injured reserve Saturday. Thomas, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Denver in the 2015 offseason, caught 30 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns in nine games this season. Thomas caught 12 touchdown passes in 2013 and 2014 for Denver and has nine in two seasons with the Jaguars. "It's hard when you are injured like him – and he had legitimate injuries," Bradley said of Thomas' back injury. "The one he's going through right now is a painful deal for him. … It's frustrating for both sides that we didn't get him going as much as we'd like, and he feels the same way." Odrick, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Miami in the 2015 offseason, played six games this season and missed the last two weeks with a shoulder injury.
The Jaguars were comparatively injury-free Sunday.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee sustained a lower-leg injury and returned to the game while Kelvin Beachum re-aggravated his left knee and was cleared to return. Beachum has been playing all season after rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament last offseason with his only missed game because of a concussion.
Skuta played through an elbow injury and running back Chris Ivory (hamstring), center Brandon Linder (ankle), safety Peyton Thompson (ankle), wide receiver Allen Hurns (hamstring) and running back Denard Robinson (ankle) missed Sunday's game. Their statuses will be updated throughout the week.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence, and when you're playing with that much confidence – that's what you're seeing out there on the field by him. He's in a really good place right now."
--Bradley on Lee