With the Jaguars preparing to depart for London for two weeks to face off against the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills, each Jaguars' unit coordinator met with the press for their weekly media availability on Thursday. While many questions were about the coming matchup versus Atlanta, with this being their first availability this week much of the press dialogue was focused on last Sunday's sobering loss versus Houston. Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor first took the podium to discuss the offensive struggles of late.
We feel like through three games, we haven’t done the things we’ve felt like we would be able to do in certain games. Whether that be setting guys up for certain things, finishing plays, executing plays. We haven’t achieved the standard we expect for ourselves, that’s something we’ll continue to chase. That’s an ongoing process forever and always. I think if you have a little bit of success early in those games, where maybe we stalled out in certain situations, it changes the feeling and the rest of the game as you go. We’re going to keep plugging, keep chipping away at it until we get this thing turned.
A continued problem area for the 2023 Jaguars' offense has been its production on third downs so far. As previously covered by BCC's Gus Logue "Jacksonville continued to struggle on 3rd and 4th down [versus Houston]. It averaged -0.5 EPA per play on late downs on Sunday after earning -0.7 EPA per play on late downs from Weeks 1-2, which already ranked worst in the league."
On late downs (3rd and 4th) the Jaguars are:— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) September 26, 2023
- No. 31 in EPA/Play
- No. 28 in success rate
- No. 30 in dropback EPA/Play
- No. 28 in dropback success rate
- No. 30 in rush EPA/Play
- No. 27 in rush success rate
The difference in their early and late down offense is striking. pic.twitter.com/e35scK3AbS
In reference to the team's third-down struggles, Taylor believes that this is a shared problem that the team may be able to work through in due time.
There’s a lot of things when you look through it, whether it be protection, batted balls here and there, catching here and there, making decisions here and there. I think as we look into it, everybody has had their hand in this. As a unit, there’s not one certain person or group that has let us down where you think you can make this certain change right here. I think it’s just everybody in some way, shape, or form, doing the best at their job at that given time, whatever that may be. I think early on in the season, three games in, a small sample size, quickly you have one successful game in there and it flips the numbers. I understand the rankings and all that. We go in and watch every play individually, we try to diagnose what the issue was with that play, why was this not successful or not efficient and go through the entire game with that to provide context for each situation. It’s not something we feel like there’s one glaring issue, or this change will fix all of that. It’s just something that everybody continues to put their head down, do their job to the best of their ability, and we’ll come out on the other side of this.
And to be clear, Sunday's struggles didn't just lie with the offense, as all three units had a hand in the divisional loss to the Texans. The Jaguars on Sunday were again unable to score on the opening drives, which Taylor does not solely blame on the offense.
I think we have the ability to start fast the other day and we didn’t make a play. Then, it comes down to you miss a field goal, now the whole dynamic of the game changes after that first drive if you catch the ball and score or we call something different early on and get somebody an opportunity early on. That’s something we’re always trying to search for as an entire unit.
The missed field goal was just the start of the issues for the special teams unit. Jaguars’ special teams coordinator Heath Farwell took a moment to discuss the later blocked field goal that continued the team's downward spiral.
The way field goal protection works, everybody has to be in unison. It’s all interlocked in. When you have one guy that’s off or two guys that are off, you get a little crease. Our left tackle who has done a really good job for us so far this season, just got a little leaning forward and didn’t get his outside arm up. His job is to be interlocked in with that tackle, and make sure he has a heavyweight foot as his inside foot, so he doesn’t get pried out. Also, get a good arm hook. When you get a little crease like that, a good rusher like 51 [Texans DE Will Anderson], he’s able to get in there. He’s a talented pass rusher, he’s a really good rusher on field goal block as well. It was a guy that we emphasized all week and he almost blocked one the week before. He’s a talented rusher, but again, just not great execution and that’s on me. That’s something we have got to be much cleaner, that’s something we will work on a ton and it’s been addressed. We’re moving forward with it.
Both Taylor and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell seemed to agree that they expect a tough, physical game on both sides of the ball. While Caldwell commented on the strong and dynamic running game, Taylor noted the physicality of the Falcons’ defense.
They’re physical. They do a really good job of being a physical unit. They’ve got a big, physical, interior front seven. I think on the outside they’re doing a good job of being physical with receivers. They brought in a couple of free agents that have really added to their team personnel wise. We had the opportunity to practice with them last year, so we have a feel for some of the people personnel wise, but now, they’re playing in a different scheme. Adding [Falcons S] Jessie Bates to the backend has been a big thing for them. I think he’s got three picks already through three games. He changes the complexion of the backend based on how rangy he is as a safety and how instinctive he is. They’re letting him make plays, but bringing in [Falcons OLB] Bud Dupree, [Falcons DL] Calais Campbell, having [Falcons DL] Grady Jarrett. That’s a physical unit. That makes the game hard and kind of want to turn it into a fistfight. On the outside, they have been aggressive and physical in coverage. The way they played Detroit made it hard to get off into the speed and space a little bit.
Trying this again, sorry.— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) September 28, 2023
With Zay Jones a “long shot” to play Sunday, this makes Agnew’s appearance on the injury report late a concern.
I’ll keep you posted this weekend in London. Stay tuned https://t.co/LouZVDKxOm
Cam Robinson, Cooper Hodges (IR), Antonio Johnson (hamstring), and Dawuane Smoot (PUP) will all travel to London— Mia O'Brien (@MiaOBrienTV) September 27, 2023
Lloyd, DaVon Hamilton, Greg Junior among those who won't travel https://t.co/X0YKUkGCJC
Touching on Devin Lloyd's surgery, Caldwell reiterated his faith in Chad Muma to carry the load for the next two or so games that Lloyd is projected to be out due to his hand surgery.
Early on in the season, Chad [LB Chad Muma] was subbing Devin, he was subbing Foye [LB Foyesade Oluokun]. He was getting reps in there because it’s early on in the season and you’re not in true game form yet. To have someone like Devin, Devin is a guy who you count on to make plays, he’s long, he’s mobile, he’s comfortable in the system and when he’s out there, you just have a comfort that he’s going to be able to make a play here or there. Chad is the same way. We know Chad, we know his skillset, him and Devin are very similar and they’re very different. Both of them do well for us out on the field.
The Falcons are a tough, run-the-ball, strong defense, slow-the-game-down type of team who will look to punch the Jaguars in the mouth early. The Jaguars will hopefully be ready for the fight. The game kicks off in London on Sunday at 9:30 am (EST) on ESPN+ with the Toy Story Alternate broadcast airing on Disney+ and NFL+ (mobile).