As the Jaguars put the final touches on the game plan for Sunday, Jaguars offensive coordinators Press Taylor and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell both met with the press for their weekly media availability on Thursday.
With the upcoming heavyweight matchup with the Buffalo Bills, Jaguars DC Mike Caldwell took the podium to discuss the team's goal of taking away the Bills' run game on early downs.
That’s the plan all the time, to keep teams in our advantage in third-and-longs, second-and-longs. You’re right, a big guy like [Bills QB Josh Allen] who is a really great runner and it’s going to be tough. We’re just going to go out there and try to understand our game plan and focus on keeping them in those situations.
While this is often Caldwell's preferred goal week in and week out, it may be more pertinent when facing this Josh Allen-led Bills offense that’s been 2nd in the league on third-down efficiency.
Biggest stat disparity between #Jaguars and @buffalobills is third-down efficiency where Jags are 29th at 31.4% [16 of 51] and Bills are second at 51% [26 of 51]. The other is scoring differential where Buffalo average per game is +21.0 and Jags average is -0.5.— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) October 3, 2023
The Jaguars offense, on the other hand, has continued their 2023 struggle to convert on 3rd downs. As covered by BCC's Mark Dhooge, the team went 5-14 (36.5%) on Sunday versus the Atlanta Falcons. However, two of those conversions were from Trevor Lawrence scrambles after the play structure failed. Jaguars OC Press Taylor took a moment to comment on the staff's ongoing process to find improvement in this area
It’s certainly an area we need to get better at and we’re continuing to put in the time to continue to trust our process with how we game plan for these things, how we scheme them, how we rep them and teach them, all of that. But it’s definitely something we need to improve on.
If the Bills have an obvious area that can potentially be exploited, it's in the run game. Their defense is currently surrendering 119 yards on the ground to opponents. In their week one overtime victory over the Bills, the New York Jets rushed for 172 yards. The Miami Dolphins last Sunday rushed for 142 yards despite needing to abandon the run early in their blowout loss. The Jags will look to improve upon Travis Etienne's Sunday performance versus the Falcons, where he had 20 carries for 55 yards (2.8 yards per carry).
While the raw numbers suggest the Jaguars struggled on the ground last week, Coach Taylor indicated that fans may have not seen the full spectrum of the run game versus the Falcons due to the surrounding circumstances of the game.
The dynamics of the game change where it didn’t seem to benefit us to be super aggressive and try to get to the perimeter and risking negative yardage plays. Some of it was let’s keep going straight ahead, we’ll pop some of these eventually. Which we did or we didn’t, we probably didn’t in that game but some movements came off and we get a 30-yard gain to Evan [TE Evan Engram] rolling off there on a run sell where their defense is committed to it. We go into the game knowing that’s a really good front, you have a lot of calls that you don’t get to do just because when you’re sitting on a 17-point lead and the dynamics of the game change, you play the game a little differently than you plan to when it was 0-0 and you had four quarters ahead of you. There are things that we need to continue to get better at moving forward.
It seems that the team decided on less "risky" run types for minimal to reasonable gains, with a focus on playing the ball control, field position game, which Coach Taylor further explained.
I think the dynamics of the game changed last week pretty quickly, where all the sudden, you’re up 17, a team that was, in all honesty, was struggling to throw the ball at certain times. The gameplan changes as you get into it or the way you play the game changes and I thought did our guys did a great job of that...It won the game that we were great running the ball, but a lot of things came off the run in terms of movement, some of the play passes we had earlier. It’s a full system, you look at it and say we didn’t run the ball great, but a lot of the things that came off the run game were big for us.
With the explosiveness of the Bills offense, a major area of concern may be the Jaguars defense’s ability to bring down the Bills' Josh Allen. Based on Coach Caldwell's comments fans may see more 'mush rushes', the front four, to keep Allen in the pocket. This is similar to what the team did versus Anthony Richardson in week one and against Pat Mahomes in week three.
Really, you have to go out there and execute your gameplan. We understand we don’t want to fly by the quarterback, we want to stay in the space and try to get him on the ground with multiple guys. We want to be aggressive and try to attack him and also be smart how we rush him. There’s a plan and we’ll go out there and see if we can execute on Sunday.
After ending 2022 tied for fourth in the league in turnovers forced (with the Bills) the Jaguars defense is currently fourth in the NFL with 9 turnovers; 5 fumble recoveries and four interceptions. Caldwell spoke on his defense's continued focus on getting the ball.
I don’t know if it’s our identity, but we want it to be that. We focus on that a bunch and that’s a topic in almost every meeting. You have to take the ball away from the offense and give it back to our offense. That’s one of the things we like to do, and we’ve had a little bit of success here lately of getting them. Hopefully, they’ll continue to come.
Here's to them coming in bunches Sunday morning. Gametime kicks off on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (EST) on NFL Network and NFL+.
Only real updates to #Jaguars injury report: Josh Allen (shoulder) practiced in full + Christian Braswell popped up again with the hamstring (Limited) #Bills got their veterans back who had off Wednesday + full practice for Jordan Poyer (knee). Von Miller Limited again. pic.twitter.com/Ud2mXP1Wnc— Mia O'Brien (@MiaOBrienTV) October 5, 2023
- Bills CB Tre’Davious White (DNP) - ACL tear last week
- Bills DE Greg Rousseau (DNP) - foot injury