JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone knows well it's an issue.
Jaguars players know it, too – and increasing efficiency close to the end zone will be among the major priorities in the coming days.
The Jaguars have had some serious red-zone issues offensively lately.
And they're putting in serious work there this week.
"We've talked about a couple of things," Marrone, the Jaguars' head coach, said Wednesday as the Jaguars (3-4) prepared to play the New York Jets (1-5) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday. "We had some good discussions with it with what we want to do and how we want to address it."
Red-zone issues were one topic around the Jaguars Sunday, with players and coaches also discussing the team's linebacker situation and starting quarterback Nick Foles' return to practice. But the red zone is key because the team struggled there against the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday.
The Jaguars in Cincinnati converted just 1 of 6 trips inside the 20 into a touchdown, and running back Leonard Fournette was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 after an impressive drive on the opening possession.
While quarterback Gardner Minshew II has fared well in the red zone this season with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in seven games, the Jaguars' offense overall this season is last in the NFL with a 33.3-percent rate scoring touchdowns there.
"There's been a lot of talk about it in a lot of our meetings," Minshew said. "Friday is our big red-zone practice day; we'll hone in. We're going to really focus on execution down there. We've had a few different things, some negative plays, some penalties. We've just got to get to what we're comfortable with and execute."
Marrone said he has added time to the area in practice this week.
"We've sat down and really said, 'Hey listen, we've got to a better job of what we want to do,'' Marrone said. "Now we've got to a good job of executing it. If not, it comes back to us as coaches. Then, we're not doing our best to put them in the right situations."
Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:
*Foles as expected returned to practice as allowed under NFL rules. Foles, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this past March, sustained a broken clavicle in the first quarter of a Week 1 loss to Kansas City. The Jaguars have made him one of two players eligible to return from injured reserve this season. The first game he will be eligible to play is November 17 at Indianapolis, but he was able to return to practice Wednesday. "I don't have any expectation," Marrone said. "I think afterwards I'll just ask him, 'How do you feel?' … We have a plan. We put it together. That was kind of the other day when we sat down. We said, 'Here's your plan. Go work it.' My focus is getting ready for New York.'' Said Minshew, "It was good. He looked comfortable. It's been a while. We missed him out there. He brings a lot of energy. It's a lot of fun when he's out there." Minshew, who has won three of his six starts, was asked his thoughts on the Jaguars' quarterback position now that Foles – the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player following the 2017 season – is weeks from returning. "I think we're pretty good at quarterback, if nothing else," Minshew said with a laugh. …
*Three linebackers – weak-side backers Quincy Williams and Najee Goode, and strong-side backer Leon Jacobs – missed practice, with Marrone saying Wednesday morning all three likely are doubtful for Sunday. Also missing practice Wednesday were left tackle Cam Robinson (toe) and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (core muscle), with wide receivers Marqise Lee (ankle) and Dede Westbrook (shoulder) working limited. Guard Andrew Norwell also practiced limited with an ankle injury, while cornerback A.J. Bouye missing practice following the birth of his daughter, and defensive end Calais Campbell and center Brandon Linder missing with scheduled days off. …
*If Williams plays, it will mark the first NFL meeting between he and his younger brother – New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Jaguars selected Quincy Williams in the third round of this year's draft. Quincy said the pair plan to meet for dinner Saturday and swap jerseys following the game. "Growing up, we had the same dream and played on the same teams," he said. "The biggest thing was we were going to make it to the NFL, and we did." …