JACKSONVILLE – It's cleaner, which means it's better.
That's a good sign for the Jaguars' offense, with offensive coordinator Press Taylor on Thursday saying the reason for the team's red-zone improvement is simple.
"We've capitalized when we've had the opportunities," Taylor said as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (8-5) prepared to play the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (10-3) at EverBank Stadium Sunday.
The Jaguars, after struggling at times in the red zone early in the season, have improved dramatically there in recent weeks. One reason is the continued effectiveness of tight end Evan Engram there, with Taylor on Thursday also discussing a more fundamental reason.
"Early in the year, it didn't feel like we were struggling as much as turning the ball over in critical situations," Taylor said. "That obviously is a big hindrance for you."
The Jaguars through nine games scored 10 touchdowns on 23 drives in the red zone, with four of the red-zone drives ending in turnovers. They have scored 12 touchdowns on 15 red-zone possessions in the last four games, and are now 11th in the NFL in red-zone efficiency. They do not have a turnover in that span.
"We were just turning the ball over," Taylor said. "That was certainly a big issue for us. It has gotten better. I don't know that there has been any philosophical change, scheme change, anything like that. We've just done a good job executing things and taking advantage of our opportunities."
The Jaguars this past Sunday scored a season-high four touchdowns in the red zone, with Engram catching touchdown passes of 10 and two yards.
"He has done a great job making the most of his opportunities," Taylor said. "Part of it's the coverage, the matchup, the way things dictate. He's certainly somebody that has produced with the opportunities given to him.
"He's somebody that we can all trust and count on. The quarterbacks have a lot of familiarity with where he's going to be and when he's going to be there. We trust he'll do what we've asked him to do."
- As Mike Caldwell saw it, assessing the Jaguars' defensive performance in a 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday was simple. "Not good enough," the Jaguars' defensive coordinator said. "That's the main thing I take from it." The Jaguars' defense created three turnovers against the Browns that led to 14 points on two short-field drives, but Caldwell when speaking to the media Thursday focused more on three long passing touchdowns allowed. The Jaguars allowed Browns quarterback Joe Flacco to throw touchdowns of 34, 35 and 41 yards with coverage breakdowns an issue on all three plays. "You can play 70 plays and you don't play three good and it's a bad day," Flacco said. "We had a bad day regardless of turnovers and how many times we forced them to punt. It was the plays that we didn't execute that hurt us. And as a defensive coach and a defensive player, that's what happens all the time. You have to be right all the time and we have to get better. I don't think it's focus. I hate to use this word, but go back to communication. There are plays where we can talk and help each other by letting each other know what page we're on. At the end of the day we have to go out and execute. We have a technique to play and have to go out there and get a play."
NOTABLE - INJURY UPDATE
- Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell (quadricep) and safety Andre Cisco (groin) practiced limited Thursday after missing practice Wednesday, with Campbell having missed Sunday's game against the Browns and Cisco sustaining his injury in that game. No Jaguars missed practice Thursday. Jaguars players practicing limited for a second consecutive day Thursday: Wide receiver Jamal Agnew (shoulder), cornerback Christian Braswell (hamstring), guard Ezra Cleveland (knee), running back Travis Etienne Jr. (ribs), cornerback Tre Herndon (concussion), running back D'Ernest Johnson (knee), wide receiver Zay Jones (knee), left tackle Walker Little (hamstring) and tight end Brenton Strange (foot). Agnew's window to return from injured reserve was opened this week. Little and Strange both missed the Cleveland game. Starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence (ankle) and backup quarterback C.J. Beathard (left shoulder) both practiced full Thursday.