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Jaguars aim for improvement on critical downs

Jaguars OC Press Taylor: "We felt positive about the situations we set ourselves up in, we just didn’t execute those situations when they came about."

NFL: DEC 26 Ravens at Bengals Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Press Taylor and Defensive Coordinator Mike Caldwell both met with the press during their normal weekly Thursday media availability as the team prepares for their home opener versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

As the team turns the page from its week one win versus the Indianapolis Colts, Taylor took a moment to both celebrate the team's week one victories and acknowledge its opportunities ahead of week two:

We’re chasing being better every single week. We have high expectations for ourselves, we hold ourselves to a high standard of how we expect to play and execute in certain situations. We didn’t feel like we got that done. Now, some situations were better than others. Obviously, we were happy with our red zone production going three-for-three down there is a big deal. But hopefully, we get there a few more times if we can execute better in the third and fourth down situations. We felt positive about the situations we set ourselves up in, we just didn’t execute those situations when they came about.

To Coach Taylor's point, against the Colts the Jaguars' offense scored on every red zone series, something that was a major problem area in the early portions of the 2022 season. But, the opportunity area is hard to ignore there. The Jags went 3/12 on third downs, 1/3 on fourth downs, and could not convert a single second-half third-down conversion, as covered by Big Cat Country's Mark Dhooge. To Taylor's point, that simply won't get it done against a top-tier team such as Kansas City.

Out of those 12 third-down opportunities, the team went 1/5 on third and short. Taylor took a moment to speak on the need for improvement in this area in both the play calling, the acclimation of the players, and on occasion their physical will.

I think it’s just little things. It’s continuing to work through it, making sure as a coaching staff that we’re putting our players in the best possible position. As playcallers, we’re calling the right thing at the right time. Then, our guys fully understanding and buying into what we’re trying to do, what we expect the look to be, and sometimes it’s coming down to going out and getting three feet. That’s what we need to be able to do.

Coach Taylor followed that comment up, discussing at length on the need for the team to continue to establish the run game even when it isn't working on occasion.

You’re kind of going through what it looks like, why are things not working? Is it because they have better numbers than us in the box? Is it because we’re miscommunicated? We didn’t feel like that was necessarily the issue. We felt like these runs eventually would hit. Now, we sealed the game at the end with Travis [RB Travis Etienne Jr.] breaking on off as we just continued to play within. That was just, kind of an individual effort by him, but a great job for everybody to finish and fight in the box. He did a good job finishing and getting himself in the endzone. We do feel like there’s a little bit of a cumulative effect of being able to hammer the ball, but we’re going to do it when it’s the right situation. If we’re outnumbered in the box, we should not be running the football. We want to do what we need to do to move the football and put everybody in the best positions. It’s not just saying we’re going to run 20 times so we run 20 times regardless of what the look is. It’s trying to make sure we have the right look for our guys.

On the other side of the ball, Mike Caldwell spoke with the press to discuss the difficulties presented in limiting Pat Mahomes in the passing game this Sunday.

I think the the thing about him is he’s so comfortable with his skill set he can make a throw from anywhere and he doesn’t have to have his feet properly set or anything. It’s tough, you want to disrupt quarterbacks but when you disrupt him just like you said it’s kind of playing into his hands because when he’s off time he’s really more dangerous than when he’s on time. When he buys time they do a great job of receivers going downfield, receivers getting open, and then when he breaks the pocket him and Kelsey have this connection where he can get the ball to him wherever he’s at on the field. So it’s tough, but you just go out there and you know still try to pressure the quarterback. Just understand you know, you want to keep him in a pocket. But, he does such a great job of getting out. We just go out there and plaster in coverage and let the d-line and outside linebackers go out there and try to get it.

With Mahomes' infamous ability to avoid sacks and create big plays out of thin air, it will be imperative for the pass rush to "mush-rush" or contain Pat in the pocket and not extend plays. Additionally, with Chief's tight end Travis Kelce potentially returning from injury, Caldwell is tasked with creating a plan to limit the Chiefs' number one pass catcher.

I think with Devin just his overall game has improved. His second year, he’s comfortable playing the run and playing in coverage. So we’ll wait and see. [Kelce is] a great tight end and he’s the guy that you know makes that team. You know, he’s a different guy out there. We’ll have a plan to throw a bunch of guys at him and try to you know and Devin will be one of the people to get the opportunity to cover.

Injury Updates:

With Chris Jones back from his holdout, the injury status of the interior offensive line will be something to continuously monitor heading into Sunday for the Jaguars. Jones recorded 6 pressures versus the Jaguars in last season's playoff matchup.