JACKSONVILLE – New day, same questions.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone gave a lot of answers Friday, a day after a one-sided prime-time loss to the Miami Dolphins – and the primary topic was defense.
The theme on that front: disruption.
"We've got to find a way to disrupt the quarterback," Marrone said a day after the Jaguars' 31-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed his first 12 passes Thursday, finishing 18 of 20 for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars sacked Fitzpatrick once – by defensive end Josh Allen – and the Jaguars have three sacks in three games this season.
"There's some technique stuff [in pass rush] popping up a little bit where we could have had a couple sacks and we didn't," Marrone said. "We've got to be able to disrupt in the back end and get the quarterback not to feel comfortable with non-contested routes and throws, which I know we can do a better job of that."
Marrone said the Jaguars blitzed "quite a bit" Thursday on all three downs.
"We'll continue to mix it up," Marrone said. "There are a lot of things you look at – who's rushing, from what positions. Are we putting enough pressure on the protections where they don't know who's coming? We'll look at certain things like that.
"Right now, really everything's on the table because we're not doing what we like to do. It starts with, 'Hey, listen, we have to do a lot better on first and second down and get them into third-and-seven-plus.' Then we'll get a good evaluation for what we have to do.
"It's really both ends. We've got to do a better job up front and in the back end. We all have to improve for us to get the results we want.
Opposing quarterbacks have completed 72 of 90 passes for 744 yards and seven touchdowns against the Jaguars this season, with Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill throwing a career-high four touchdown passes in Week 2.
The Jaguars did not have a pass defensed Thursday after having two against Tennessee and five against Indianapolis. The Jaguars did not force a takeaway Thursday and have lost the turnover total 2-0 the last two weeks after winning that statistic against the Colts.
"We're in position, but we haven't defended many balls," Marrone said. "We've got to get our hands on more balls. In the first game, we did. In the last two, we haven't at all. Those are the things we're trying to improve upon."
The Jaguars' defense has allowed 84 points in three games, allowing game-opening touchdown drives in all three. They allowed touchdowns on the first two drives of a Week 2 loss at Tennessee and allowed touchdowns on the first three drives Thursday.
Sixty-two of the Jaguars' points allowed have come in the first half, and they have trailed at halftime in all three games this season – 17-14 to the Colts, 21-10 to the Titans and 21-7 Thursday.
"There's a point where you can watch during the game that we start to settle down," Marrone said. "There are technique things, some eyes and some focus – going out there and being technically sound, fundamentally sound and not be so locked in with some of these guys that you can't react to things.
"We just have to be able to get them out there and put them in a position where they can do those things. They do it during the week, but it seems to be on all of us that we have to do a better job early. As the game goes on, you can see where now all of a sudden they're starting to play the way we wanted them to play from the beginning.
"We just have to be able to get them off to that start."
Marrone on Friday reiterated what he said immediately following Thursday's game – that he will consider receiving the opening kickoff when given a choice. Marrone, like many NFL coaches, typically defers to the second half when the Jaguars win the pregame coin toss. "I am looking at potentially taking the ball first," Marrone said. "I'm going to try to get a peek at what's going on and seeing how we can settle these guys down more. We're going to have these discussions. It's definitely something that's on the table. I want to learn more about it. Where before I've always been 'defer,' now whatever will help our football team we'll do."
Marrone said the Jaguars plan to work out kickers Monday. Rookie free-agent Brandon Wright, who made his NFL debut Thursday by converting one of two extra-point attempts, sustained a groin injury during the game. Wright was replacing veteran Josh Lambo, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a hip injury.
Marrone said he felt the early deficit affected the Jaguars' approach offensively Thursday, though he said he didn't think the same was true the past two weeks. The Jaguars ran 17 times and called 46 passes Thursday. "It just felt like chasing," Marrone said. "You plan all week to be in a game that could potentially come down to the final drive. You want to be able to use all the tools you have and be able to run it, play-action, boot – and keep that going. When you're having to throw to push the ball downfield and score, now your third downs could be longer than if you're running and getting manageable situations. … I just felt we didn't really have the opportunity to really help our guys because of the way the game was being played – how we got down early."
Starting strong-side linebacker Leon Jacobs will be placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a knee injury in the first quarter Friday, Marrone said. Marrone said safety Andrew Wingard and starting center Brandon Linder are expected to work on the field Monday to gauge progress on their injuries. Wingard, who started at strong safety the past two games, left Thursday's game with a core muscle injury; Linder missed Thursday's game with a knee injury sustained in a Week 2 loss at Tennessee. Marrone also said the team is awaiting test results regarding the chest/back injury that kept Pro Bowl wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. out Thursday. "Once those tests clear, what he has to do, then he's fine," Marrone said.