JACKSONVILLE – Four takeaways from HC Doug Marrone's press conference a day after the Jaguars' 26-24 victory over the Denver Broncos Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado.
1.Opportunities mattered in the running game. A reason Marrone said the Jaguars improved dramatically in the running game Sunday compared to Weeks 1-3 was the improvement of the offensive line. But Marrone said another reason was the offense had more opportunities to run. The Jaguars were 0-for-7 with seven first-half first downs Sunday, finishing the first half with 40 rushing yards. The Jaguars had run 31 offensive plays to that point, with 10 being runs. The Jaguars had 18 second-half first downs, which enabled them to run 45 second-half plays. Twenty-eight of those plays were runs, and the Jaguars rushed for 229 second-half yards. "We needed to get those plays," Marrone said, "and in order to get extra plays or more plays, you have to do well on third down. Our average has been OK, but we didn't have enough attempts." The Jaguars were four of seven on third downs in the second half. "It's going to go back to the ability to stay on the field and run plays," Marrone said.
2.The right guard rotation could continue. A.J. Cann and Will Richardson Jr., have rotated at right guard the last two weeks – this after Richardson started at left tackle in the first two games with starter Cam Robinson returning from a knee injury. Marrone said he doesn't feel much urgency to decide between Cann and Richardson at right guard. "I'm not going to lock myself into saying, 'Hey, a permanent solution is going to be one or the other if they're being productive for us,'" Marrone said. "We're getting production right now with both of those players playing, and that's going to help us as the season goes along. I'm happy with both of those players. A.J.'s playing better since Will's been coming in and playing guard and Will's a young player that's really starting to come on and do a nice job. We're in a pretty good situation."
3.D.J. Hayden is an overlooked asset defensively. Hayden, the Jaguars' veteran nickel back, sometimes goes unnoticed because of the attention paid to cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. But Hayden since signing as an unrestricted free agent in the 2018 offseason has been a reliable nickel corner. He registered a quarterback hurry and a pass defense Sunday, and also took out a blocker to allow linebacker Quincy Williams and Bouye to make a tackle short of a first down on a third-and-short early in the first quarter Sunday. "He does things that don't show up in the box score," Marrone said. "He's been rock solid. He really has. It's difficult, playing the nickel position. D.J. has been rock solid and I appreciate the way he plays. He's always there. He's not an injury guy. He's been great. He's doing a lot for us."
4.Ryquell Armstead mattered Sunday. Armstead, a rookie running back, got his most extensive work of the season to date Sunday and took advantage with 42 yards on eight carries to complement running back Leonard Fournette's career-high 225 yards rushing. Armstead also caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II to cap the Jaguars' touchdown drive to start the second half. "We've always felt good about Rock and the way he's practiced, his explosiveness and what he can do," Marrone said of the fifth-round selection. "We just really didn't have the ability to get him into the game." Marrone said a major reason Armstead had played sparingly in the first three games was the team needed to keep Fournette in the game for pass protection. "With Roc, we feel good," Marrone said. "When we can get those snaps and get those carries like we did the other day, then we'll be able to implement him and we'll get really good production out of him."