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Jaguars Monday presser: ‘Everybody has to lock in and focus a little bit more’

Doug Pederson talks to the media following the loss to the Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Doug Pederson faced the media on Monday following the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 31-27 defeat to the Cleveland Browns. Predictably, the head coach was asked about his thoughts on the performance - particularly regarding the drop-off in output from the run game:

“Well, obviously you have to find ways to improve, possibly getting back to some of the schemes that worked earlier in the season or what helped Travis [Etienne] break free. Obviously, the injury situation on the offensive line has affected that just a little bit, having that continuity up front. It’s something that we’re focused on and even with Phil [Offensive Line Coach Phil Rauscher], just again, finding those schemes that have worked in our past and trying to tap back into that to see if we can jumpstart the run game.”

After a disappointing night in Cleveland, it was quite refreshing to see both Pederson and the media be more reflective of where the team is at in the context of the season, rather than dwelling on one result. Pederson believes that, outside of the showing against the Browns, this team wasn’t far off hitting top gear offensively:

“We were playing pretty good football right in there. We actually had, quite honestly these last couple of weeks, other than yesterday, I felt like our passing game was kind of on track. It was improving. Obviously, the injury to Christian [WR Christian Kirk] affects that a little bit. The things when you look at the tape, it’s all the self-inflicted stuff. It’s negative runs or incomplete passes early in the down, it’s pre-snap penalties that put you in first and 15’s, route details, just fundamental things that we can control. Really, the same thing on defense. Just not staying disciplined in the gaps, missing tackles on the perimeter, all things that are within our control that we’ve got to get back to doing. You get those corrected and you put a little bit of attention to detail on those, I think you will be back to playing good football and competing.”

And defensively? Sunday saw some big moments; three turnovers showing how dangerous this unit can be. But ultimately, some big plays from the Jags’ opponents cost Pederson and his team dearly:

“I think for the defense, it came down to three plays for about 120-plus yards yesterday. It’s really what it came down to. Some of that was communication errors. When you’re in that type of environment, communication is of the utmost importance. On a couple of those plays, we failed to do that. That can’t happen, that cannot happen. That’s something that I know the defensive staff and Mike [Defensive Coordinator Mike Caldwell] will reiterate. I’ve reiterated that, we’ve continued to talk to our guys. They kept us in the game a little bit with some of the takeaways. It just goes to show you how close these games are because it comes down to three, four, maybe five plays. You never know what play it’s going to be, that’s the thing. That’s what I keep trying to reiterate with the team, you got to play each play independent of the last. You never know which one it’s going to be that it’s going to come your way and you’re going to have the opportunity to make that play.”

Injury Updates

As is fast becoming a tradition on the Monday after games, Pederson was forced to address a number of injury problems - with a pair of starters now with an uncertain timeline ahead of the home game against the Baltimore Ravens this coming Sunday night:

“Ezra [Cleveland], I believe it was his knee that he felt in the game. Everything checked out good this morning today. He’ll be day-to-day, obviously he’s sore. [Andre] Cisco has a groin [injury], those are a little bit different injuries obviously, much like a hamstring or quad. He’ll be day-to-day, but we just got to see how he feels as the week progresses.”

There was a little more optimism for Trevor Lawrence, who surprised everyone by playing against the Browns, just six days after he limped off against the Cincinnati Bengals with a high ankle sprain. Pederson was cautious, but confident his quarterback won’t miss any time:

“Fine. We’ll be careful with it, but right now being a Monday, if we had to practice today, he’d probably not. But if he comes back Wednesday, should be good to go.”

In a further bit of injury cleanup, Pederson was also relishing the return of two more players on offense - starting with Walker Little:

“Yeah, optimistic. We’ll see these next couple of days and when we get to Wednesday. I’m optimistic that he can maybe get some reps. He and Brenton Strange both possibly this week.”

One final bit of good news; wide receiver Jamal Agnew might soon be ready to be activated from the injured reserve list, following an extended period of time out with shoulder and rib ailments:

“Yeah, I think this would be the week that if we can activate his window, we might do that later in the week. We’ll see where he’s at health wise. He’s feeling good, so hopefully by Wednesday we can make that decision.”

Costly Mistakes

Back to back defeats to AFC North teams in the last two weeks have been beset by a number of costly mistakes. Pederson was visibly annoyed by them - and not only that, acknowledged that the team’s preparation had been blighted by errors too:

“Yeah, I really have. Quite honestly, they show up in practice during the week. That’s where it starts. I’m a big believer that you’re going to play like you practice. When you don’t have the crisp practice during the week, sometimes those things can creep into a game. It gets magnified in a ballgame, everything matters. It’s something that is a point of emphasis offensively. We pride ourselves with the silent count, being able to use that because yesterday we did draw a couple of defensive offside penalties which was great. I think one that was missed late in the game on the touchdown pass which was okay. Those are things that are concerning and alarming, because those are things that are holding the offense back right now.”

Whilst not making excuses, Doug Pederson did accept that continuous rotation on the offensive line certainly wasn’t helping with eradicating mistakes pre-snap:

“It’s hard, you’ve got different personnels, different bodies, different people. But it’s not an excuse that we’re going to use. Everybody reps those plays in practice, they know exactly which plays they’re going to be in on. The cadences are all predetermined going into a football game what we’re going to use. There’s no excuse; we’ve just got to focus in and detail that part of our jobs.”

If fans are feeling frustrated, it’s clearly matched by the coaching staff. Pederson continued to bemoan costly mistakes in recent weeks:

“It drives me nuts. We continue and I continue to talk to the team and just reiterate the impact that those fouls and mistakes have, the implications of those plays in a game. It’s the things that have kept us from being better maybe in the win-loss column this season than where we are right now. Again too, we’ve got to own it, we’ve got to take responsibility and accountability for it. Everybody has to lock in and focus a little bit more.”

It’s one thing to acknowledge errors, but whose fault was it? Pederson pulled no punches:

“Some of it is on players, their attention to detail. They’ve just got to focus and listen in on the huddle, what the play is and what the call is, where to be aligned, the snap count, all those types of things. I get it too, they’re in the heat of the moment, you’ve got to block Myles Garrett one-on-one and you might anticipate the count just a little bit. You just get a little jumpy. Those are things that we have to try to eliminate and keep us out of those long-yardage situations.”

Positives

Despite two defeats on the spin, it wasn’t all doom and gloom at Monday’s press conference. The Browns are a tough team to beat on the road, and there were some impressive individual displays - beginning with rookie Antonio Johnson:

“Obviously, he showed quite a bit. His ability to blitz, his physicality to tackle, cover, just a player that we’ve seen that out of. I think the more he plays, the better he’ll get and all of that. He did a nice job yesterday, he was one of the bright spots coming out of the game.”

Alongside Johnson, Pederson was also happy with how wide receiver Parker Washington has performed since stepping in due to injuries:

“They’re showing promise, they’re showing why we drafted them. Now, this late in the season, these young guys are really going to be called upon based on injury and where you are as a team. The more opportunities they get, this was great for Parker with Christian [Kirk]’s absence, he gets a chance to really sink his teeth into the offense and show what he can do, which he’s done the last couple of weeks, and the same with Antonio [Johnson].”

Pederson expanded on the increased role for Washington, firstly picking up special teams duties before stepping in as a slot receiver:

“Yeah, it’s a big role, big shoes to fill. Jamal [Agnew] is obviously a tremendous returner in the kicking game. For Parker, that’s a big opportunity. He’s done well on some of the returns, obviously the Cincinnati game he put the ball on the ground on a punt return, and again yesterday, same thing. Those are the things as a young player, he has to understand. Chad [Wide Receivers Coach Chad Hall] does a good job of communicating and talking with him and making sure that he understands his role. It’s a great opportunity for him, obviously we have a lot of confidence as a staff in him. But big shoes to fill with those two jobs.”