JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's Wednesday Jaguars notes and observations: LB Telvin Smith not concerned about two-game losing streak, HC Doug Marrone says keeping it simple the key and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is good again
1.Don't count Jaguars weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith among those worried about a two-game losing streak defining the season. Smith, who assured reporters the Jaguars were "fine" following a 40-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, reiterated that stance Wednesday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. "We're playing hard," he said. "You don't see guys giving up. I've been here three years ago when guys gave up and you saw it on the field. You see guys going hard for each other and wanting to line up. As long as I keep seeing that, and I keep looking in the guys' eyes, we're going to be fine." Smith was asked if this adversity was different than when the team was enduring double-digit-loss seasons early in his career. "I think it just makes everybody go crazier," Smith said. "When you have more expectations, then you just can expect more crazy when stuff doesn't go accordingly or the way people think it should be going. That's why I'm smiling, because I still believe so much in this. I just understand this game. I understand football. That's why I'm not panicking. We're facing a lot of adversity right now. We just have to overcome it."
2.Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone spoke extensively Wednesday of returning to basics and fundamentals to break the current two-game streak. Part of that is players focusing on their assignments as opposed to trying to be spectacular, a subject he addressed when asked if quarterback Blake Bortles was trying to do too much. "He, along with a lot of other players," Marrone said. "It is not just him. It is a receiver catching the ball and trying to extend or spin or trying to make these unbelievable plays. Offensive lineman, selling all out, trying to overthink things too much. The quarterback knowing that we need a play trying to make a play and throw it maybe where it shouldn't be thrown." Marrone said the issue extends to every position. "I am not going to say that you can't overcome things or you might not get a pick or you might not make that play," he said. "Those things occur. If you continue and you play like that and you force those things and not just go out there and play, then bad stuff happens. That is my experience."
3.Marrone on Texans defensive end J.J. Watt: "He's back playing like when he was the Defensive Player of the Year." Watt, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, 2014 and 2015, was limited to eight games and 1.5 sacks the past two seasons by a back issue (2016) and a broken leg (2017). Watt, who had 20.5 sacks in 2012, 20.5 in 2014 and 17.5 in 2015, has seven sacks in six games this season. "We all know he's a good football player," Marrone said. "He's extremely tough, extremely active. I have a ton of respect for him, especially how he's battled back and then all around. I don't know him personally at all, but in the community what he has done there. He is just an outstanding person and an outstanding football player."
4.A major task for the Jaguars this week: containing, pressuring and eventually hitting Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The second-year veteran has been sacked 25 times this season while being hit 66 times in six games behind a Texans offensive line that has struggled with protection the last two seasons. The Jaguars, after finishing second in the NFL with 55 sacks last season, are 18th in the NFL this season with 14 through six games. As important to the Jaguars this week as sacking Watson may be containing him. He has the mobility to evade the pass rush and effective on designed bootlegs and misdirection plays, an approach that has given the Jaguars' defense trouble in losses to Tennessee, Kansas City and Dallas. "Mobile quarterbacks this year have caused problems for us, but nothing that we can't adjust to," Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson said. "He definitely poses some problems, and obviously we've got to bring our A game." Smith smiled when asked why mobile quarterbacks give the Jaguars issues. "You just said it," Smith said. "You answered it at the beginning of your question. They can move with their legs. That's something [New England Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady and them can't do."