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Quick Thoughts: Bye week

Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (30) runs against the Los Angeles Chargers in an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo )
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (30) runs against the Los Angeles Chargers in an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo )

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars during the 2020 Week 8 bye week …

Oehser …

1.James Robinson and the line give this offense a chance. The task for this week's Bye Week Quick Thoughts: offer reasons to feel good about each of the Jaguars' three units – offense, defense and special teams. Hope for the offense is easy to find – that what when given opportunities, rookie running back James Robinson and the line give this offense a strength that could be utilized if other areas can play well enough to keep the team in the game. Using Robinson for four quarters has been difficult because the Jaguars have trailed by double digits every week since Week 1. To keep him involved, the defense must hold teams relatively in check and perhaps create a turnover or two. And quarterback Gardner Minshew II must make more big throws and key completions in key situations. Robinson has shown he can break tackles and pound defenses, and the line has shown it can run block effectively. The key for the Jaguars moving forward will be staying in games long enough for offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to use Robinson for an entire game.

2.The pass rush may be improving – and linebacker Myles Jack could get healthy. Finding optimism defensively is difficult; the Jaguars have allowed at least 30 points in six consecutive games and allowed opponents double-digit first-half leads in four of the last six games. But the return of defensive end Josh Allen this past Sunday after a two-game absence is a good sign; six hurries and a sack against Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert this past Sunday marked some of the best pressure the defense has generated this season. If the defensive front can build off of that moving forward, and if weak-side linebacker Myles Jack (ankle) and safety Jarrod Wilson (hamstring) can return healthy after the bye, then at least marginal improvement defensively could make the Jaguars more competitive in November than they were in October.

3.Josh Lambo is back – and young players are making plays. The Jaguars' special teams contributed to the 1-6 record through seven games – or more specifically, issues at kicker contributed. The Jaguars in Weeks 2-5 missed a field goal or an extra point in five consecutive games, using five different kickers during that span. The most memorable game on this front came in a Week 5 loss at Houston, when Stephen Hauschka missed field goals of 32 and 49 yards while the outcome was undecided. Kicker Josh Lambo, out since Week 2 with a left hip injury, returned this past week; his presence should mean much-needed stability. The Jaguars also got a good sign this past week when rookie Daniel Thomas blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown – the Jaguars' first blocked punt for a touchdown since 2012. The Jaguars haven't forced takeaways consistently this season, but if they continue to get big plays on special teams that could change momentum in some games.


1.The running game is worthy. There's no way anyone would have believed the Jaguars would average 4.5 yards per rushing attempt this season AFTER releasing running back Leonard Fournette, but that's where they are. Robinson has impressed in every possible way and his performance would be catching the attention of many, many more people around the league if the Jaguars could keep games close enough to keep running the football. On the scoring drive in Los Angeles that cut it to a two-point game, Robinson contributed 50 of 67 yards and his second touchdown of the game. Credit to the offensive line for room to run; the unit has made major strides from a season ago and it's clear those players love making room for a tough runner like Robinson to lower his shoulder and run over whomever is in his path.

2.I like CJ Henderson and Sidney Jones IV on the corners. Henderson is a first-round pick and Jones probably would have been if not for a major injury in his final year at Washington. Both have shown remarkable instincts and have had their moments making plays on the ball; Henderson in his first NFL game against the Colts and Jones in his first game with the Jaguars in Houston. The lack of a pass rush has left them vulnerable in coverage too often, but neither lacks the confidence to shake off a big play and line up for the next one, an essential quality for a quality corner in this game. If rookie Josiah Scott, who hasn't seen the field yet this season, is the nickel of the future they believe they drafted in April, then they can focus on upgrading safety and feel good about what they've got to work with in the secondary.

3.It's too easy to say punter Logan Cooke and Lambo are reasons for optimism on special teams. So, I'll focus on Thomas, who blocked the punt and scored a touchdown in Los Angeles. If you watch special teams at all, you've seen No. 20 racing down the field in coverage and bowling over blockers to make a tackle or squeeze the play so a teammate can. He has been a monster on special teams, which is all you can hope for in a sixth-round safety. But when he made it onto the field in Houston, he notched seven tackles for the defense. Thomas is a just a good football player – and just the kind of guy any special teams coordinator is looking for because his fearless, physical style sets the tone for everyone around him. If you haven't done so yet, forget about the ball and focus on No. 20 on coverage; he'll lead you to where the ball is going because he's likely going to make the tackle.

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