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Gus Bradley: "You need to be able to run the ball in the redzone"

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The Jaguars' struggles in the redzone have been well documented. Can the team make the proper adjustments?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A Thursday night game against the Titans a week before Thanksgiving gifted the Jaguars with quite a bit to be thankful for -- a victory, momentum, and a two-game winning streak.

It also gifted the team with a mini-bye week.

Ten days between home games gives Gus Bradley and the rest of the Jaguars coaching staff a rare opportunity to dissect an area of concern and make legitimate adjustments -- not just a patch job.

And if there's one area that the Jaguars would like to kick start, it's offensive redzone production. The Jaguars' redzone numbers haven't necessarily been awful through their first 10 games -- the team is actually averaging 24.8 points per game over their most recent six-game stretch -- but a few isolated personnel decisions, as well as execution, have left a sour taste in the mouth of fans and media.

The redzone storyline caught fire when short yardage back Toby Gerhart failed to gain the one yard needed for a touchdown in four consecutive attempts against the Bills over a month ago. The flame has since been stoked by every questionable play call or decision that has been made as the Jaguars have settled for more tries at 3 points rather than breakthroughs for 6.

Much of this frustration stems from the fact that the Jaguars have redzone threats -- Julius Thomas, Allen Robinson, T.J. Yeldon -- but these players don't seem to receive enough targets or opportunities.

In other situations, football isn't that simple. Game plans shift and change alongside a game that continuously evolves through 60 minutes. In the redzone, however, a team can benefit from simplifying their game plan. Bradley and the Jaguars understand this, but seem to hit a wall at times with execution.

This is something Gus Bradley recognizes, and will continue to examine.

"There's times where you see it and we have a couple of drops and it's a good pass and there's times when we don't give the receiver or tight end the opportunity to catch it so there's some little things that come into play there so we will keep working on it," Gus Bradley stated to the media on Thursday. "Again, this is something that when you have a Thursday game you can go back and look at it and kind of analyze almost like a bye week where you really pull an area and take a look at it. We've done that with the redzone so hopefully with some of the adjustments that we make with running and passing will prove to be beneficial."

One adjustment the Jaguars could make rests within their redzone running back stable. Rookie back T.J. Yeldon has proved his worth as an every-down threat this season, but hasn't received many redzone opportunities. In his place, the unproductive Toby Gerhart and change of pace back Denard Robinson have handled a bit of the work inside the 20.

Bradley spoke on this concern as well.

"I don't think we were ever not comfortable with putting T.J. in there," Bradley said. "I think it was a situation where you have roles and packages set up for players in certain situations."

Whether it's the player that carries the ball or the general decision to run rather than pass, rushing in the redzone has been ineffective and something needs to change. Still, it doesn't appear that the Bradley and the Jaguars will give up on the short-range run game all together.

"You need to be able to run the ball in the redzone," Bradley stated. "It's no different than anywhere else."

Gus isn't wrong. Still, I'd imagine the Jaguars might take a step away from punching the ball in near the goalline, opting to get a little more creative with a mobile quarterback and a stable of weapons that are, for the most part, healthy.

When the team does decide to punch it in, look for T.J. Yeldon in the backfield. Converting opportunities in the redzone could be a very valuable step that places the team further along on their race to maturity.

It could also lead to more points, which could lead to more wins, which could lead to... gulp... a more realistic shot at the playoffs.