JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With a week off, Gus Bradley and the Jaguars staff took some time to reflect on the first four games of the year. Bradley clearly likes the 2016 version of the Jaguars and is equally disappointed that they’ve started 1-3.
“I think there are some areas that we are doing really well,” Gus said at his Monday press conference “I think defensively, the total yards and the sacks. We are getting more pressure. Offensively, I think that we are finding out that it is really important for us to be efficient. I mean, ‘Wow, earth shattering, right?’"
That might be the nuts and bolts of what Bradley thinks of his current team but there’s more to it. The intangible of a team that believes it can win and is going to win is somewhere in the current roster’s psyche.
“I like our mentality of our team coming out. I mentioned that before, but it just feels different out there,” Bradley explained. “I mentioned before you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. It just feels different. This team is like, ‘Okay, you know what, we had some things go our way, some things that didn’t. We understand what took place. You know what? Let’s take this now.”
During the bye week the staff dealt with Hurricane Matthew much like the rest of us did. The Jaguars staff was able to work at the stadium looking at the first quarter of the season while they worked the logistics of keeping the players informed about what their plans might be regarding the hurricane. Mainly they tried to “self-scout,” ferreting out their own strengths and weaknesses through four games.
“We had a chance last week with the bye week to really evaluate some things. Scheme, personnel, a lot of things and had some really good discussions”
Specifically, Bradley says the staff pinpointed the problems on offense and narrowed it down to third and long situations. An improved running game will keep those from happening but it was clear in the first quarter of the season, third and long kept the offense from functioning properly.
“On offense we have had a lot of third and long situations. Third and 11-plus. It is not just third and 11. These are third and 20s, third and 23s. Far too many in that area. It comes back to controlling things we can control. The foolish penalties. Penalties overall. False starts, pre-snap, more pre-snap issues for us."
During the bye week Luke Joeckel had surgery on his knee and was placed on injured reserve. The former first round pick had shuttled between tackle and guard, doing everything the team asked of him and showing improvement. Bradley said it was disappointing to take Joeckel off the roster.
“He did everything right. It is not supposed to work out this way with a guy that does everything like that. It is just very unfortunate. We will stay strong with him and handle this whole ordeal with him.”
If the difference between winning and losing is small in the NFL, Bradley says the Jaguars are trying to learn together how to turn losses into wins instead of the other way around.
“We are trying to find a way, not only as players, but as a team, to eliminate those things that keep us from victory,” Gus said. “That is what we have been talking about. These things are keeping us from where we want to be. Let’s eliminate those things.”