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Jaguars’ Wednesday presser: ‘They want to right the ship’

Doug Pederson meets with the media to discuss Titans, offensive struggles.

San Francisco 49ers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Things didn’t seem like they could get much worse after Sunday’s loss for the Jaguars, but the breaking news about receiver Zay Jones on Monday evening did not help.

Jones was arrested on Monday, and later released on bail Tuesday, though was back at practice on Wednesday.

The veteran receiver will be considered “day to day” as the team gathers details on his arrest, and as he rehabs his knee injury.

“We are trying to get him back up to speed and see where he is at,” coach Doug Pederson said on Wednesday.

Part of Sunday’s disaster included specialist Jamal Agnew going down with a shoulder injury. That injury will now sideline Agnew for “a couple of weeks.” In his place will likely be rookie Parker Washington, who was recently activated off of injured reserve to help fill out the receiving core.

In other injury news, defensive back Tyson Campbell is also considered day to day.

Pederson said his team is not going to linger on the lopsided loss for long, but the mood around the team facility has been a bit disheartened to start the week.

“They are disappointed, dejected,” Pederson said of his team. “They want to right the ship. You are only as good as your last game. I think the guys embraced it and it means something to them. We will bounce back.”

Part of that bounce back process will have to happen on the offensive line, as the Jaguars’ front has been one of the worst in the league this season.

Pederson attributed the poor play to a lack of continuity, as starters have been shuffled around all year across the offensive front, especially on the left side.

“They just haven’t played together,” Pederson said. “There are a lot of moving pieces there. Anton (Harrison) continues to improve each week. Luke (Fortner) and Brandon (Scherff) are the staples. Cam (Robinson) is Cam. But the left guard spot has been a revolving door. There is some uneasiness there. I think the more they play together, the more comfortable they will be.”

The left guard spot this week will go back to Walker Little, as trade deadline acquisition Ezra Cleveland still gets adjusted to the Jags’ system.

“Walker hasn’t had much time there,” Pederson said. “We have a lot of confidence in Walker. He will bounce back, respond. We do want to get Ezra some snaps to see where he is at mentally with the offense.”

While sacks are the most glaring aspect of the line’s poor play, sacks are not solely an offensive lineman stat. Sacks are attributed to a number of things, and Pederson said the whole offense needs to improve to prevent them.

Some of that improvement falls on the head of quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

“We are seeing better defenses, better fronts,” Pederson said. “We have one this week. Trevor has to understand that, whether that means get through his progressions faster. We have to do a better job up front. Our backs are involved in protections, tight ends (too). It’s a collective effort. Trevor is good at continuing to keep his eyes down field and we have to continue to coach him and help him to make him as comfortable as possible.”

With the line struggling, the Jags have had a tough time getting the ball downfield and creating explosive plays. The team is last in the league in terms of depth of targets for receivers.

Despite the struggling front, and struggling overall offense, Pederson said his team needs to continue to push the ball downfield.

“We probably should be more conscious of taking more shots,” Pederson said. “Sometimes, against a good pass rush, you don’t have the opportunity. That goes back to protection. That hasn’t been the greatest, so Trevor has had to get off. We have had opportunities, but it’s a combination of a lot of things.”

Pederson also noted that bailing out of potentially harmful situations can be helpful for the team, despite not looking like it at first.

“It is OK to throw it away, it is OK to punt,” Pederson said. “It is OK to be second-and-10. Just don’t put the ball in harm’s way.”

The Jaguars are not necessarily in a must-win game against the Tennessee Titans this weekend, but a win certainly skyrockets the team’s chances of making the playoffs.

With a victory, the team has around a 90% chance to at least make the playoffs. With a loss, that percentage drops to about 60.

There certainly is animosity and history between these two teams, especially dating back to last year, and Pederson expects Sunday’s game to reflect that.

“Every game is physical, but there is a little more heightened awareness when you play a division opponent,” Pederson said. “Especially in our division where it’s run heavy. There is a level of physicality there. If you want to be one of the teams at the end of the year, these are the games you have to play better in.”

In terms of stopping the run, the Jags have been using more three safety looks and bringing a guy down in the box as an extra run defender. That strategy kept Christian McCaffrey out of the end zone, and will be deployed against Derrick Henry.

“It is good for us,” Pederson said. “This is a week we will be able to clean some stuff up and get on the same page. (Andrew Wingard) is good around the box. We will have to do more of that moving forward.”

The former quarterback said he has seen some nice things out of the Titans’ rookie quarterback Will Levis. After winning his first start and tossing four touchdowns, Levis has lost his last two starts and has thrown no touchdowns to two picks.

“He started out extremely hot, and things have settled in for him,” Pederson said. “He does a great job of the intermediate stuff. He can move around, he has a really good arm. He can throw it from really good angles. Young player that is working through some things but he has done a nice job.”

Sunday’s game will be the first of the final three AFC South games on the schedule for the Jags. Starting that final stretch with a win will be a huge sigh of relief for not only the organization, but its fan base.

The Titans are not going to just roll over, though. This is the first time these two teams have met since last season, when the Jaguars won the division title.

“I expect it from our guys, to have that type of edge,” Pederson said. “Tennessee is a good football team. They are going to remember last year. Our guys need to remember too.”