JACKSONVILLE – These aren't perfect circumstances.
When asked about game-planning with a slew of youth in a new offense – and with comparatively little time to do it – Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Tuesday made that much clear.
"It's tough," he said.
Gruden, whose offense has scored more points in Weeks 1-2 than any Jaguars offense in two decades, this week will prepare a young offense for what he says is a different challenge than the first two weeks – when the Jaguars scored 27 and 30 points against Indianapolis and Tennessee, respectively.
The Jaguars (1-1) will play the Miami Dolphins (0-2) at TIAA Bank Field Thursday at 8:20 p.m., and Gruden said the three-day turnaround is a factor.
"As an offensive coach, you want to try to add some new things that fit what you're going against," Gruden said. "Going up against Miami, they're a different style of defense, so that calls for a different style of plays, but being a short week we want to also make sure these guys know what to do so they can play fast.
"That's the biggest thing, trying to find that balance between being a little bit different but also challenging our guys to make sure they can play fast."
The Jaguars through two games are tied for eighth in the NFL at 28.5 points per game after ranking 26th last season 18.8 yards per game. They produced 480 yards and 30 first downs in a 33-30 loss at Tennessee this past Sunday.
"There's room for improvement," Gruden said. "The thing I'm most pleased with is the effort these guys play with. And they play physical everywhere. We're spreading the wealth around. A lot of people are touching it (the ball). The players are genuinely happy when we have success and it doesn't have to be an individual person for them to feel that way.
"They play hard. They're unselfish. They're playing smart right now. I think there's a great upside because of that for this season."
Key to the Jaguars so far this season has been red-zone efficiency, having scored touchdowns on six of seven possessions inside the opponent's 20-yard line. They also scored a touchdown in Week 1 on a possession that reached the Indianapolis Colts 22-yard line, making them seven for eight scoring touchdowns on drives that reached the opponents' 25-yard line.
Gruden said just as critical has been the team's third-down efficiency. The Jaguars lead the NFL in the category, having converted 62.5 percent of third downs into first downs.
"If you miss on four or five of those third-down plays, you're talking about averaging probably 13 or 14 points a game as opposed to what we're doing," Gruden said. "So, the third down has been impressive. That's been the most impressive part of our game so far, to me as a coach. You won't get those opportunities to do a lot of the things that we talk about unless you're converting on third down."
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash on Tuesday said the Jaguars absolutely will use rookie defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson when appropriate. "If there's an opportunity to get him on the grass, he will be on the grass; no doubt," he said. But Wash said that doesn't mean Chaisson will – or should – play in every defensive situation. Chaisson, after playing 46 plays against Indianapolis, played 18 plays Sunday against Tennessee. Wash said the play counts were based on situations, with Chaisson playing more in Week 1 because the Colts played a lot of three-wide-receiver formations while Tennessee played in more big, run-oriented sets. "A lot of it depends on the offenses we play," Wash said. "If they're out there in a lot of "11" personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end),' we can put both of our defensive ends – or our rushers (second-year defensive end Josh Allen and Chaisson) – on the field at the same time. If they're using a lot of big people … down-and-distance tendencies all determine that. Everyone just counts the numbers (of snaps), but you really have to look into the game and see what we're facing and see what we're trying to do to defensively or as a team to be successful."
The Jaguars added kicker Josh Lambo to the injury report Tuesday with a hip injury. The rest of the Jaguars' injury report remained unchanged from Monday: Center Brandon Linder (knee, did not practice), safety Brandon Watson (illness, DNP), wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (chest, limited) and rookie tight end Tyler Davis (knee, limited).Because the Jaguars play on Thursday night this week, they are not practicing full and therefore do not release a typical "injury report," with the report instead being an estimation of the players' status.