JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five Wednesday takeaways as the Jaguars prepare to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Sunday …
1)Fight to finish.We begin with the only logical place to begin this Wednesday takeaways, and that's with a look at the main issues facing the Jaguars' offense. The first? The drop-off from the first to second half, something quarterback Blake Bortles on Wednesday attributed at least in part to precision. The Jaguars scored three total second-half points against Carolina/Miami/Indianapolis in Weeks 1, 2 and 4 while scoring 42 points in the first half of those games. They beat Miami on a late field goal, but lost to Carolina and Indianapolis. "It's kind of hard to figure out why there's been a lack of execution in the second half," Bortles said. "I think it all stems back from an attention to detail … really being able to be precise throughout the game and being able to finish. … The whole process of everything I think is really good; I think it's just a lack of execution throughout the game."
2)Seeing red.As expected, the second-half struggles weren't the only topic as Bortles and offensive coordinator Greg Olson had their weekly meetings with the media Wednesday. Also a pressing topic is the red–zone offense. The Jaguars rank 18th in the NFL in total yards after ranking 31st in the area last season, but they are scoring 15.6 points per game. The Jaguars have touchdowns on four of 11 possessions inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The 36.4 percentage ranks 29th in the NFL. "It's our job as a coaching staff to find those playmakers that can get the ball in the end zone and devise schemes to get them into the end zone," Olson said. "We'll continue to work at that. I think we're very close, I do believe that. There's belief in the players. I think we're close. … We do evaluate after every game, but we've been able to evaluate the first quarter and that's an area we'll have emphasis on."
Images from Jaguars' Wednesday practice.
3)Quarter-pole assessment.Bortles through four games this season has improved statistically. He has completed 85 of 156 passes for 996 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. That's a pace for 3,986 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions compared to 2,908 yards, 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season. He also has had several stretches in which he has played better than last season. So, what does he think of his season so far? "Not good enough, obviously," Bortles said. "There's always room for improvement. As a quarterback in this league, there are times you have to will your team to victory. I think we've had those opportunities and I haven't been able to get it done. I think I definitely need to improve. I always need to improve, but I think there has been some growth and some improvement." Asked how a quarterback willed his team to victory, he added, "Just being able to put your team in a spot to win. You see it every week: somebody doesn't play well the entire game and at the end of the game, they get a two-minute opportunity, and they're able to come through. Being able to do things like that – no matter the situation, or what's going on … giving a team a chance to come out on top."
4)Yeldon progressing.Running back T.J. Yeldon had the best game of his rookie season Sunday, rushing for 105 yards on 22 carries against the Colts. But it was more than yards rushing that impressed coaches about the second-round selection from Alabama. With backup Denard Robinson (knee) out, Yeldon played more than 75 snaps and continued to excel in pass protection. That had been a question about Yeldon during the pre-draft process, as it is for many college backs. "Some of the things we've seen on tape as far as making people miss and his instincts, that's showing up," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "But the protection part I think has really stepped up his game." Olson said that while ideally Yeldon wouldn't play quite so many snaps, "He's a guy that can handle an every-down back role. He's been really consistent in his pass protection. He's been good in route-running and I felt like he got stronger as a runner as the game went on so it's encouraging."
5)No change.The Jaguars have no plans to change kickers after rookie Jason Myers missed a 53-yard field goal at the end of regulation and a 48-yard field goal with 8:13 in overtime against the Colts. The Jaguars believe in Myers and believe there's little reason to pursue an available free agent. One reason is he struck the ball well on the two misses Sunday, with each kick narrowly missing – one to the left and one to the right. From the time they opted to trade veteran Josh Scobee to Pittsburgh, the Jaguars said they planned to stick with Myers through any early struggles, and they are staying true to that. As for Myers, "I'm not going to do anything different," Myers said. "If I didn't hit the balls the way I wanted to, I would try and tweak stuff here and there. But I hit them both the way I wanted to. I didn't pull up because I was nervous; I went after them. I'm not going to change anything. I'll just get back to work."