JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's Thursday Jaguars notes and observations: Defensive coordinator Todd Wash discusses "a long week," RB Leonard Fournette misses practice again and the necessity of offensive simplicity
1.Todd Wash led his weekly media availability with the obvious. "It's been a long week," the Jaguars' defensive coordinator said shortly after practice Thursday as the Jaguars (3-3) prepared to play the Houston Texans (3-3) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. The reason: The Jaguars' No. 2-ranked defense on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys had one of its worst games since Wash took over as coordinator, allowing scores on all four first-half possessions in a 40-7 loss. Head Coach Doug Marrone and Jaguars players talked afterward of miscommunication, and Wash on Thursday echoed what Marrone has said multiple times this week – that the coaching staff is emphasizing basics and fundamentals. "We had a real good defensive unit on Monday," Wash said. "We came in and addressed some things in how we've been playing consistently, through the whole year. We're leaving a lot of stuff out on the grass. I think I overlooked a lot of things. I'll take it on myself as a coach. My name is on it, obviously. We've got to get back to the base fundamentals of things – maybe stop trying to be so damned cute in what we're trying to do and just go out and execute and play hard." Marrone put players through what several players called a training-camp-style practice Wednesday. "It's been a tough week for the players and the coaches, but I think we're growing through this whole experience," Wash said.
2.Leonard Fournette missed practice for a second consecutive day Thursday, with the second-year running back sitting out with the hamstring issue that has cost him four of the last five games. Also out for a second consecutive day: cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) and rookie cornerback Tre Herndon (hamstring). While Marrone on Wednesday said there was a possibility the trio could play Sunday, he said much would depend on if they could practice on Thursday. Six players practice on a limited basis Thursday: Running back T.J. Yeldon (foot/ankle), center Brandon Linder (knee), guard Andrew Norwell (foot), offensive tackle Will Richardson Jr. (knee), right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), defensive end Calais Campbell (ankle). Tight end James O'Shaughnessy (hip) did not practice Thursday after being listed as limited Wednesday.
3.Wash on Thursday discussed what might be the defense's primary worry Sunday: Texans second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson and a passing game that also features All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Watson has thrown for nine touchdowns with nine interceptions this season, and he has been sacked 25 times while being hit 66 times in six games. A concern for the Jaguars' defense: Watson's mobility. The Jaguars' defense has struggled this season with mobile quarterbacks, including last week when Dak Prescott of the Cowboys threw two first-half touchdown passes and ran for a first-quarter touchdown while Dallas effectively used bootlegs and misdirection to counter an over-pursuing Jaguars defense. "We've stressed that," Wash said. "The last couple of weeks, we've played some real athletic quarterbacks. We've got to do a better job keeping him (Watson) in the pocket. We've got to keep him in the pocket, make him a passer and try to pressure him as much as we can." The Jaguars registered 14 sacks in two games against Houston last season, beating the Texans 29-7 in Week 1 in Houston and 45-7 in Week 13 in Jacksonville.
4.For Nathaniel Hackett, simplicity is a necessity. "With the amount of new guys we have, we're trying to keep it as base as we can but trying to give the illusion of not being basic," the Jaguars' offensive coordinator said Thursday. Injuries have taken a major toll on the offense, with Fournette not only missing four games but third-team running back Corey Grant out for the season. The Jaguars also have started three left tackles, and two tight ends – Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul – are on injured reserve, as is wide receiver Marqise Lee. Jamaal Charles and Dave Williams on Sunday will play their second games at running back, with fourth-year veteran tight end Blake Bell signing Tuesday. Josh Walker made his first career start at left tackle against Dallas, with the Jaguars signing left tackle Ereck Flowers late last week after he was released by the New York Giants. "With all the different guys, we're trying to catch everybody up to full speed here," Hackett said. "So, we don't want to be overcomplex. We have to be efficient. One way or the other, we have to find a way for everybody to be efficient."