JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five Thursday takeaways as the Jaguars prepare to play the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field Sunday
1)Follow the big, blue whale.We begin this Thursday takeaways on Jaguars linebacker Jordan Tripp, who will start in the middle Sunday if Paul Posluszny (hand) misses after having surgery Tuesday. Tripp, a second-year veteran who played the Otto in place of rookie Thurston Armbrister Sunday at Tennessee, has zero NFL starts, but confidence in Tripp is strong within the locker room because of his approach since signing earlier this season. "If you knew how closely Tripp follows him around this building, you'd be as at ease as I am going into the game," defensive end Jared Odrick said. Odrick laughingly compared Tripp to a remora, which Wikipedia defines as a fish that uses a sucker-like organ to follow larger fish such as sharks or whales in tow. "Tripp is a remora of the big, blue whale that is Paul Posluszny," Odrick said. Tripp said he would be foolish to not mimic the nine-year veteran. "I don't know that there's any young linebacker who wouldn't want the opportunity to learn from somebody like that," Tripp said. If Tripp plays, he will also assume Posluszny's duties calling pre-snap defensive signals. "That's your job," he said. "You have to make sure you're on point. The team doesn't work if everyone's not doing their job front to back."
2)Nose(s) for the ball. The Colts are tied for fifth in the NFL with 14 interceptions this season, and safeties Mike Adams and Dwight Lowery are big reasons. Adams, a 12-year veteran in his second season with the Colts, leads Indianapolis with five interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. Lowery, an eight-year veteran who spent 2011-2012 and the early part of 2013 with the Jaguars, joined the Colts as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason. He has four interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. "The one thing that jumps out at you is their safeties and the interceptions that they have," Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Wednesday. "It's just been a lot of very opportunistic plays made in the secondary." Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has 13 interceptions this season, and went without an interception for the first time in eight games Sunday.
Take a look at images of Thursday's practice as the Jaguars prepare to host the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field on Sunday.
3)"No joke."The Jaguars' season-long defensive inconsistencies have shown up big the last two weeks, with the unit allowing 369 yards and four touchdowns in a home loss to San Diego two weeks ago and 467 yards and five offensive touchdowns in a loss at Tennessee Sunday. The pass rush has been an issue, which has contributed to struggling to get off the field on third down and in the red zone. The Jaguars have allowed opponents to convert 78 of 157 third downs (46.7 percent) into first downs and 28 of 41 red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. The third-down percentage is last in the NFL and the red-zone percentage is 31st. "The struggles on third down and the red zone, it's no joke," Jaguars defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "I take responsibility for it and know there are certain things that somehow, someway need to get corrected. … Starting with me, we need to make sure that we put ourselves in position to get off the field."
4)Big loss.Babich on Thursday said the defense as a whole "felt terrible" after allowing 35 points in a 42-39 loss Sunday. "We didn't play well," Babich said. "We understand that. We have to play a lot better. It was very discouraging." The task would get no easier if Posluszny is unavailable, and while there is confidence in Tripp's ability handle the role, Posluszny has been key to a defense that ranks 13th in the NFL against the run even after allowing a season-high 210 yards rushing to Tennessee. "He's the leader, the quarterback of the defense," Babich said of Posluszny. "He does a lot of things. … I think he was having one of his better years. Whatever happens I don't know. Any time you lose a leader and a guy that has been productive on the field, you're not going to replace that."
5)Quietly effective.If right tackle Jermey Parnell has gone overlooked at times, that's probably a good thing – and as Bradley sees it, it's definitely a positive. Parnell has helped solidify the right side of the offensive line this season, starting all 12 games at right tackle after signing as an unrestricted free agent from the Dallas Cowboys. "He is one of those guys that is playing at a high level," Bradley said. "When you notice him is that you don't notice him. It's one of those things that you're not concerned about that side." Though in his sixth NFL season, Parnell never had started more than five games. "He knows what he has to do and every day he shows up and he really, really works hard," Bradley said. "He's been very, very good." Parnell has played all but one offensive snap this season, and according to Pro Football Focus has allowed three sacks. While he is credited with a team-high in hurries allowed, he also is the team's top run-blocker according to the website.