Jaguars plan to be more aggressive following offensive dud
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has a theory on his team's latest offensive dud:
The Jaguars were simply too cautious in a 20-9 loss at Carolina in the season opener Sunday.
''We didn't want to make mistakes,'' Bradley said Monday. ''We want to be a team that's aggressive, takes chances. I don't think I saw that right away in the beginning part of the game.''
The Jaguars squandered several opportunities early, dropping two passes that would have extended drives, fumbling in the red zone and missing a 44-yard field goal. They really floundered after that, managing just 75 yards in the second half and failing to advance the ball to midfield.
''Obviously we didn't make as many plays as we would have wanted, especially in the second half,'' guard Zane Beadles said. ''For whatever reason, we didn't get in a good tempo. We didn't get in a rhythm and that definitely hurt us. When things are hitting on all cylinders and you're in a good rhythm and things are rolling, it's a lot easier to be flying around.''
The result: A fourth consecutive season-opening loss and more questions about an offense that ranked 29th or lower in each of the previous four years.
This year was supposed to be different in Jacksonville.
Quarterback Blake Bortles spent the offseason tweaking his throwing motion and honing his footwork. Second-year pro Allen Robinson was fully healed from a foot injury and poised to emerge as a go-to receiver. Rookie T.J. Yeldon looked like a workhorse back playing behind an upgraded offensive line. And two-time Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas would be the long-awaited, free-agent acquisition who would make opposing defenses wary.
So far, no good.
Bortles was off target most of the afternoon against the Panthers, completing 22 of 40 passes for 183 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. Robinson left the game with a knee injury but later returned and finished with one catch for 27 yards. Yeldon had 67 total yards, but 50 of those came in the first half. Although the revamped line played well early, it ended up giving up five sacks. And Thomas missed the first of at least three games with a broken right hand.
''The defense played unbelievably again, like they did a lot last year,'' Bortles said. ''We have got to help them out. They played good enough and we just have to put more points on the board. The guys have to continue to want to make plays and want the ball in their hands on third down and stuff like that and stay on the field to keep the drives going.''
The Jaguars hope for a better offensive showing Sunday against Miami (1-0).
Jacksonville could have receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) back for the first time in more than a month. Bradley said the former second-round draft pick from USC, a speedster who could create more chances for big plays in the passing game, is expected to practice Wednesday.
With or without Lee, the Jaguars know things have to improve.
''We've got to get back to doing things right,'' Bradley said. ''I think there's pressure for us to be our best and to get this thing right and to execute like we're capable of. Our players will feel that. They feel it. There are things that we could have controlled - catching balls, assignment errors, discipline - and they need to get right. They feel that part.''
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