Inconsistent Jaguars now focused on fixing 3rd-down issues
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars have a new area of emphasis:
After failing to convert a third down for the second time in coach Gus Bradley's three seasons and giving up four lengthy ones late in a 23-17 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, the Jaguars (5-9) plan to work on that aspect of the game this week in practice.
It might be too little, too late.
Jacksonville has lost three of its last four games and now has little chance of winning the AFC South. Bradley's team has been consistently inconsistent all season, with offensive problems one week, defensive ones the next and special teams issues sprinkled throughout. And after working to curb costly turnovers, defensive lapses, red-zone woes and missed extra points, now third down is the biggest concern.
On both sides of the ball.
''Yeah, we'll practice third down and have a little more emphasis on third down,'' Bradley said Monday as his team began preparing to play at New Orleans (5-8).
The Jags finished 0 for 8 on third down against the Falcons, and failed on their one fourth-down attempt.
''We couldn't get a groove all game,'' receiver Allen Hurns said. ''I think we did a bad job on third down, not converting and leaving the defense out on the field by having a couple three-and-outs.''
It was the first time since the 2014 season finale that Jacksonville failed to convert a third down. The offense missed on 11 attempts against Houston last December.
It also was the second consecutive week the Jaguars struggled in that area. They were 2 for 9 on third down against Indianapolis last week, a percentage that got overlooked in the 51-16 victory.
The Jags weren't much better on the defensive side of the ball against Atlanta. The Falcons converted 6 of 9 in the second half, moving the chains on third-and-7, third-and-9, third-and-5 and third-and-13 in the fourth quarter.
''We didn't get off the field on third down, especially with some third-and-longer situations,'' Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said. ''If we want to be a great defense, we have to get off of the field in those types of situations. To have those guys make those plays and extend those drives, that's not good for anybody. It takes time away from the offense and the opportunities they'll have.''
The Falcons held the ball for nearly 18 minutes in the second half, including a 6-minute, 44-second drive in the fourth quarter in a three-point game.
''Yeah, you don't want to be on the field for that long,'' defensive end Jared Odrick said. ''In terms of scheme of the game, you want to get off of the field. You don't think about being frustrated about being on the field. You don't think about that. ... We really just want to step up and put the offense in a position to win the game. That's our mindset.''
It didn't happen Sunday and now the Jags have little chance of winning the muddled AFC South.
In the meantime, the Jags would settle for third-down improvements.
''The challenge with this team is to learn from what took place and take these lessons,'' Bradley said. ''Right now, all that is on my mind is how are we going to start faster, how are we going to take care of third downs to where it's a non-issue and consistently playing at a high level. That's the areas that we really need to attack right now.''
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