Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Bradley, Bortles Say Hackett Brings “New Vision”

On Friday afternoon, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley gave a straightforward “no” to the question of changing his staff in the near future.

On Saturday he fired Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.

There seemed to be a disconnect there, and understanding what has to be kept behind closed doors, Bradley revealed today that he was thinking about a change, even last Friday. And after “evaluating” it, as Bradley says, he decided to make a change, a move both General Manager Dave Caldwell and Owner Shad Khan approved of. Bradley was quick to point out it was his decision, alone.

“We started looking at things and gathering information and putting things together and it went into more of that direction,” Bradley said on Monday. “I didn’t know where the direction would take me. I didn’t know what would take place. I didn’t want it to lead to speculation nor did I think, at that time, there would be a coaching change. I try to share things with Shad and Dave and keep them up to date. It’s still my decision. It wasn’t Shad’s decision or wasn’t Dave’s decision. It was one that I had to feel comfortable with.”

So Bradley brought Olson in on Saturday morning and told him they were going to make a change. Olson calmly left the building before the whole Florida/Georgia festivities got into full swing. Bradley told the staff and the players, who he described as “shocked.”

“Oly had great impact on everybody in that room,” he explained about Olson and the offense. “I think there’s a part of them, it’s sad. It’s tough. No different than when you cut a player that’s close to the team and then he leaves. Players experience it. Coaches experience it. I think it’s the world we live in.”

Promoting quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett to offensive coordinator keeps the relationship with Blake Bortles in tact and gives the team a “different vision” according to Bradley.

“I just called him up and talked to him about, hey, what direction would you go? How would you go about it? It was very good. I thought it was very clear which direction and I thought it really meshed with what we needed at this point.”

A change in coordinators isn’t extraordinary during the season in the NFL, but its not the end all, cure all for the Jaguars.

“I told the offense, I said, we made a change, okay, now we’re good,” Bradley said of his meeting. “No. It’s not like that. Players have to make plays. We all have to take responsibility. This was not solely Greg Olson.”

Now it’s Hackett’s job to try and get the offense untracked, starting with the quarterback. Although he doesn’t think the problem rests squarely on Bortles’ shoulders.

“I think that sometimes people try to focus on all the negative things with Blake,” he said today at his first meeting with the media. “I don’t really do that. I try to look at more of the positive things and see how we can do those more to get him into a more comfort level.”

Getting the running game going would be anybody’s priority when trying to fix the Jaguars. Hackett is no exception, adding that getting any kind of meaningful running game would take pressure off Bortles and the Jaguars receivers.

“I have always felt, like I said, the best thing in the world for a quarterback is the run game. I have always absolutely loved running the ball. Get it to Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon they’re going to run right down the field and get a couple yards. I think that even if it doesn’t work, they still have to defend it.”

On Saturday Bradley called Bortles to let him know about the changes. In turn, Bortles talked with Olson and Hackett to discuss the new “vision” for what they’re going to try and do on offense. Even Bortles admits it’s still about the players making plays.

“Things change and just because there has been a move made or a switch has happened it doesn’t mean we are all of sudden going to start putting up numbers offensively and winning games,” he said on Monday. “We still have to go out and find a way to execute and eliminate the stuff that has been happening the previous seven weeks.”

It’s a production-based business and because Bortles hasn’t been producing, Olson is out as the coordinator. That’s not lost on the Jaguars third-year quarterback.

“If I would have played well, better, the way I should, whatever you want to say, there would never be a coordinator switch. We would still be here with Jedd Fisch I guess. It’s always on the quarterback. Nowhere near was it all Greg Olson’s fault.”

A lack of “efficiency” is how Bortles termed his throwing motion this year so he had his personal QB coach Adam Dedaux come to Jacksonville on Monday to look him over and “tighten some things up.” Hackett said he was fine with Bortles seeking outside help since it “makes him comfortable.”

Something needed to change with the Jaguars after a 2-5 start. You can chalk up their losses to Green Bay and Baltimore to just not knowing how to win. The blowouts to San Diego, Oakland and Tennessee were inexcusable. So a new voice, a new approach was needed. Since Shad Khan said Gus Bradley was remaining as the head coach, the next in line to get the scrutiny and eventually the ax was offensive coordinator.

“I think you have to be realistic with it and understand what we’re doing isn’t working and hasn’t worked,” Bortles said. “You have to do something different and we’re figuring that out and we’re going to try to find something different this week.”

While Olson was laid-back and direct with the players, Hackett is a “mini Gus,” according to Marcedes Lewis. Bortles says no question he’ll bring a different energy to the practices and games.

“Nathaniel coming in was kind of the spark plug for the offense. That’s kind of his personality, that’s what he is. He is a little ball of energy. I think it’ll be good. I think it’ll be good to have that. We’ll find out. We have nine games left, a lot of football to go. We’re 1-1 in our division and I’m looking forward to the rest of it.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Bradley Says Jaguars Lacked Focus

A Hall of Fame coach once famously said, “Discipline isn’t wearing coats and ties on the airplane. It’s not jumping offside on third down.”

Discipline is lacking on the Jaguars in 2016. They’re the most penalized team in the league and young players like Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler are committing discipline errors inside and outside the rules of the game.

“We cannot and will not tolerate discipline penalties. It’s selfish,” Gus Bradley said in a conference call this afternoon.

Bradley was quick to point out that Dante Fowler came out of the game for the rest of the half when he received his unsportsmanlike penalty. Ramsey missed “A play and a half.”

But the Jaguars head coach, with Owner Shad Khan saying no change in his job is eminent, thinks this group of Jaguars can still make it happen. Bradley’s philosophy of empowering the players and getting them to motivate themselves to play freely is still what he’s preaching to the team.

There’s never an excuse to not playing with great effort. We have a standard that we place. If you’re not meeting that standard, get your butt going. I think the way you lay it out to get that anxiety out is that when you believe in people, you have to be honest with them. I think when they know, clearly understand the expectations and what’s ahead of them, you relieve some of that.”

For this group of Jaguars, that approach hasn’t worked, producing a 2-5 record through undisciplined play. Half of the locker room hasn’t bought into Gus’ philosophy, doing their own thing instead of doing there job.

I asked Bradley if he could account on why the players haven’t been able to discipline themselves to do the simple things that win games.

“I think every player has to direct their focus at that play and know their responsibility on that play. It takes a certain discipline to do that. Even a play that is run away from you, you have to be really good on the backside to make sure if that play bounces out you are there. We just weren’t as focused as we needed to be on a couple of those plays.”

To get that focus, players have to want to be a part of the team instead of making every play. They need that internal desire but they need help from the coaching staff in the form of discipline. Sometimes that means fear of repercussion for not doing your job.

“When you have conversations with them I think it is pretty clear – sometimes you have to help them individually on a one-on-one basis and then it’s important to have those conversations when you know your players,” Bradley said.

So Bradley will continue as the Jaguars head coach and he’ll continue to counsel the players instead of instilling the discipline clearly this team needs. Maybe they’re waiting for something to click. Maybe it will. Problem is, they don’t have time to wait.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Time’s Up: Jaguars Should Move On

After an embarrassing performance against Oakland at home last week, what were we expecting from the Jaguars on national television on the road against the Titans? Fire? Enthusiasm? Heart? Desire? Passion? Probably all of of that.

What did we get? Lackluster, undisciplined, half-hearted and just about every other negative adjective you can think of in the first half. CBS announcer Jim Nantz said the Jaguars were “out of sync.” And he was being kind.

Between Blake Bortles continued struggles and no running game, the offense produced 40 yards in the first half. The defense was on the field a lot, but seemed to be going through the motions in the second quarter as the Titans rolled up a 27-0 halftime lead.

Facing 3rd and 12 from their own 3, the Titans gave the ball to DeMarco Murray in the middle of the line, expecting to punt. Instead, Murray bounced it outside and ran 19 yards for the first down. It was the third time a Jaguars cornerback failed to play the contain, allowing the running back to step outside with nobody behind him. It’s the kind of undisciplined play that has been a hallmark of the 2016 Jaguars.

It was astounding how poorly the Jaguars played, so much so that both Bill Cowher and Deon Sanders called the players out at halftime saying they quit on their coach, Gus Bradley. It certainly appeared that way. Jogging on the backside of plays, free-lancing, not finishing routes. The Jaguars looked like they wanted to be somewhere else.

After a big pow-wow with Shad Khan, the coaches and players as well as GM Dave Caldwell could have produced something different. But instead it was a meltdown in front of everybody.

That’s the kind of thing that Khan won’t stand for. Back-to-back embarrassing losses, this one on national television. It won’t surprise anybody if Khan makes a move on Gus Bradley and the coaching staff simply to try something else. Whatever Gus was building in his first three years has crumbled. Half of the players bought in but the other half, including some of the new additions this year, haven’t gotten on board. Rookies are doing their own thing. Veteran free agents aren’t sure which side of the equation they should be on. There’s too much talent on the team to be losing this way. There are too many good guys on the team to react the way they have when things are going bad.

What happened? Where did that team that took Green Bay to the wire go? It appears the locker room couldn’t quite bring the rookies into the fold of personal accountability and team first. For all of his talent, Jalen Ramsey said it all when he said he wouldn’t be “disrespected” and would fight again if given the same circumstances. It’s that kind of “me first” that big time talented players have to push into the background for the greater good of the team. Maybe the coaches said something to him during the week but that’s the attitude that gets you beat. Dante Fowler showed it in the game getting a personal foul for punching a guy. He probably should have been thrown out of the game. The locker room is divided, nobody on the same page, and an embarrassing, blowout loss ensued.

It was a grand experiment that failed in the end. Gus Bradley wanted to empower the players with accountability to each other, let them play without stress and reach their maximum potential. No fear. But you have to have the right players and the right personalities to turn the reigns over to a group of 53 players when all but two of them are in their 20’s. They couldn’t handle it. Bradley is a really good guy and a good coach but in this situation his big idea it didn’t work. If he gets another shot, a veteran squad might react differently. This one needed to.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Khan Says Bradley’s Staying

Despite two embarrassing losses, the latest on national television, the Jaguars have no plans to change their head coach. Sources last night confirmed and the Times-Union reported that Shad Khan said he had no plans to fire Gus Bradley after the team’s 2-5 start.

Bradley has been under fire since the start of his tenure as the head coach of the Jaguars going 14-40 in his first three seasons. General Manager Dave Caldwell has said the first two years don’t count, and he didn’t expect the Jaguars to win as many games as they did, rebuilding the roster. But in the last two years Bradley and the Jaguars are 7-16 including Thursday’s loss in Tennessee. This despite declaring the roster “built” and spending money and draft picks on defense in 2016.

“I don’t know what it is,” Bradley said after the team’s latest loss. “I know those guys in the locker room care for each other but it’s just not happening.”

When asked if he expected to be the Jaguars head coach the following Sunday against Kansas City, Bradley answered with a terse, “Yes.”

Traditionally in-season coaching changes don’t have much effect in the NFL and it’s not as common as it is in Major League Baseball, the NBA or the NHL. Khan has said his changes on his Fulham soccer club are because a new manager there can make an immediate impact. He’s been reluctant to make a change at the top of the Jaguars, saying in London last year when the Jaguars were plummeting, “It really hasn’t crossed my mind.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

“Unacceptable” According To Bradley. Is It Really?

Six games and seven weeks into the season the Jaguars should be talking about how to improve and hopefully get themselves into a division race. Instead, they sit a 2-4 and the conversation is about how the culture of the team eroded in the second half against Oakland on Sunday as their lost their poise and the game 33-16.

“It’s on us as a team to hold each other accountable.,” said Blake Bortles in his post game press conference. “To have two or three guys or whatever to get thrown out is kind of ridiculous and embarrassing.. I think the best thing for us is we get to play Thursday, so we don’t have time to think about this much longer.”

While the Jaguars have Tennessee on the schedule on Thursday night, Monday was spent talking about what happened Sunday on the field against the Raiders. Both Malik Jackson and Jalen Ramsey were ejected, Jackson for a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Ramsey for fighting. Neither apologized for their actions but Jackson was somewhat contrite.

“It was a culmination of the whole day. Just a lot of things going on,” said Jackson. “I just got frustrated and lost my cool and we can’t have that happen. I cost my team a bunch of penalty yards and I don’t know what happened after that.”

On the other hand, Ramsey was somewhat defiant. On Monday, his 21st birthday, his attitude toward what happened Sunday was no different.

“If I was out there nine more times I would do the same exact thing,” said Ramsey. “I don’t think I should’ve been thrown out the game for it. Neither do I think he (Raiders WR Johnny Holton) should’ve been thrown out the game for it. I’m not going to be disrespected. I’m pretty sure you’ll know that about me by now. I would do the same thing.”

Maybe chalk that up to being young but more than anything it shows a lack of regard for the team, the coaches and the organization in general. It’s self-centered, showing more concern for “me” than anything else. Ramsey’s comments shouldn’t be lost on Head Coach Gus Bradley, who says he takes the lack of discipline personally.

“I do. That’s a reflection of me as a head coach,” he said on Monday. “It’s a reflection of our discipline. It’s a reflection of how our culture is and how we talk. And how we handle things. So yeah that part of it hits home with me because obviously it’s my responsibility. The demeanor of this team and how we approach things and how we play with poise. It is. I take personal responsibility of that.”

There’s no other way to describe it other than embarrassing. You can call it unacceptable but unless there are some consequences for that kind of behavior, I guess it’s actually acceptable. Gus needs to get it fixed and fast. At least Bradley doesn’t dispute that it’s an embarrassing display by the team.

“It’s an unacceptable moment,” he said. “To have two players disqualified from one game it is unacceptable. There’s no other way to look around it. To say it’s frustrating or embarrassing I’m with them.” And Bortles said what everybody was thinking when asked about the behavior and how to fix it.

“I mean you have a bunch of grown men playing football for a living,” he explained. “It’s kind of on us to do that as a group. It’s on each individual to hold themselves to a high standard and when they get out of line, it’s on the team to put them back in place.”

As far as their actual play on the field, particularly on offense, Bortles was also spot on admitting he hasn’t played well but at this point, the Jaguars need to try and get out o their own way first.

“I think it all starts with the self-inflicted stuff-the penalties and unforced errors that we create ourselves. We can’t do anything until we get past that. We’ll never be successful as an offense as long as we are turning it over and committing penalties, so we have to find a way to knock those out. We will never reach our potential until we do that.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars, Bradley Wobbling On The Tracks

I went to sit in the stands for most of the third quarter as the Jaguars were getting beat by the Raiders and heard some of the most lustful booing of the home team in recent memory. While the Jaguars defense was losing their cool, probably for being on the field so much, the offense couldn’t execute the most routine play causing plenty of frustration on the field and in the stands. It’s clear something’s wrong with Blake Bortles and when you can’t depend on your quarterback to lead and make the routine play you can’t really have any kind of offensive game plan or momentum.

Bortles is clearing pressing and thinking too much instead of just making plays. It’s something Bradley has talked to him about but to no avail. If you think Bortles is a little slower when processing the pro game then you could call this his “sophomore” slump. Perhaps it’s taken until his third year to reach that point. But his inability to do the most basic things has to be addressed. It’s in his head and it’s gone on too long to just be a blip on the radar. Unlike college, you can’t just sit him and let him watch for a while. He’ll have to play himself out of it if you’re going to stick by him as your starter. As they say in the NFL, “He’s your guy until he’s not. Then he’s not your guy.”

A loss on the record is one thing but the way the team lost their composure in the 4th quarter is something Bradley will have to address immediately if he wants to keep his job. Teams that have multiple unsportsmanlike and fighting penalties show a lack of respect for the game, their teammates and their organization. Getting sideways in the heat of the game is one thing. Having it breakout through the roster over the course of the game is completely different. It started with Dante Fowler jumping offside and lining up in the neutral zone twice in the first quarter and followed through Rashad Greene’s fumbled punt and subsequent fielding of the next one on the one. Both players stayed in the game after a short conversation with their position coach and Bradley. Even to set an example, both of those players should have been standing on the sidelines for a while as a message to the rest of the players: do your job or get out of the game. I know Gus tries to take the pressure off players so they can play freely and to their best ability but without any fear of consequences, they’re not figuring out how to make that work and win games.

Shad Khan’s and in turn Dave Caldwell’s expectations are that this team would be competitive throughout the season. Losing close games to better teams can be understandable. Losing to lesser teams and looking silly and unprofessional doing it is unacceptable.

Giving the power to the players to hold each other accountable is a laudable goal for the Head Coach but for Gus Bradley, this group of players isn’t adapting to it and it shows. Marcedes Lewis spoke in the locker room after the game. Paul Posluszny said when Lewis speaks “It carries a lot of weight from an 11 year veteran.” But we’ve heard the words before. “This can’t happen, we’re better than this,” but unless they turn into action, and they haven’t in the past, they don’t mean much.

After beating Indianapolis in London, I didn’t think that Shad Khan would consider making a move on Gus Bradley unless the Jaguars were embarrassed at some point the rest of the year. It’s hard to qualify this loss as anything but embarrassing for the Jaguars. They lost the game and their composure and even when they had a chance to get back in it, they couldn’t get out of their own way and created problems for themselves and chances for the Raiders. The offense basically scored 9 points on the worst defense in the league. And most of it comes back to the quarterback. If you don’t know what you’re going to get out of that position you can’t play in the NFL. Since replacing the quarterback seem like an option right now, replacing Bradley might be, perhaps after Thursday’s game at Tennessee if they don’t come back with a win.

Bortles needs to snap out of it but the rest of the team needs to show some maturity and carry the weight of themselves and the guy next to them if they expect to win games. Right now the team, and the season are wobbling on the tracks. If they don’t want it to completely derail, they’ll need a culture change immediately.

To a man, the Jaguars say Gus Bradley is their guy and they’ll do anything for him. If they want him around, they need to find an answer.

The first place they should look is in the mirror.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars Embarrassed By Raiders, 33-16

It started as another lethargic effort by the Jaguars offense. A quick three and out after a nice stop by the defense turned into points for the Raiders, a FG by Sebastian Janikowski and a 3-0 Oakland lead. While Blake Bortles was off the mark throwing the football, he did run effectively on the next drive getting the Jaguars into the red zone. But a throw to Marqis Lee was into triple coverage and short, intercepted by Oakland to stop the drive.

If Bortles is in a slump, perhaps it’s a year late from being a “sophomore.” But you hope that’s just what it is. He’s pressing, over thinking, making bad decisions and worse throws. Perhaps he’ll snap out of it and get back on track but as of now, he’s not only not getting it done, he’s hurting his team’s chances with his indecision and inaccurate throws. After Oakland took a 6-0 lead, Bortles had a couple of chances but couldn’t find the open receiver or just flat missed him. He was 3-11 to open the game for 38 yards through the air early but was effective running it out of the backfield either scrambling by design and the Jaguars trailed 6-3.

Last week against the Bears the Jaguars defense came to life in the second half, holding Chicago to zero third down conversions and stuffing the run. Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio decided to test that, running right at the Jaguars front seven and it was successful. The Raiders held the ball for seven minutes in the second quarter, pounding the interior of the line and scored a TD to make it 13-3.

A big run by Chris Ivory padded the Jaguars rushing stats and a good run after catch by Marqis Lee moved the ball inside the red zone around the two-minute warning. That’s where the offense bogged down, Bortles looking like he’s deciding where to throw it before the snap. A field goal made it 13-6.

“Freebies” is how Head Coach Gus Bradley describes plays the Jaguars have given to their opponent and against the Raiders they had their share. The Bortles interception, a fumbled punt by Rashad Greene and a long scramble pass to inside the five with under two minutes left in the half were just that kind of plays the Jaguars can’t afford to give up. Michael Crabtree worked Prince Amukamara over in the first half, catching a TD pass on a simple in route at the goal line to give the Raiders a 20-6 lead. Not many teams have the talent to give the opposition “freebies” and still win. The Jaguars certainly don’t have any sort of margin for error in that category and were down 20-6 at the half.

Opening the second half the Jaguars started to look like they had life on offense. Bortles had three nice completions but the drive stalled and they settled for a FG to make it 20-9. The next few series were a combination of penalties and field position, the Jaguars spending most of their time under their own goal post. Eventually the Raiders kicked another FG to make it 23-9.

That’s when things started to melt down for the Jaguars. Malik Jackson was called for a pretty bogus roughing the passer penalty and in his protest was assessed two unsportsmanlike penalties and kicked out of the game. The 30-yard gain gave the Raiders another FG and they converted to make it 26-9.

Giving the Jaguars a chance to chew some clock and pad their stats, the Raiders seemed pretty content to do both with a 17-point lead. Bortles threw a TD pass to Julius Thomas to make it 26-16 and the defense, despite missing Jalen Ramsey (ejection) Malik Jackson (ejection), Roy Miller (Achilles) and Sen’Derrick Marks (foot) did their job. They stopped the Raiders and forced a punt on 4th and 20 with just under 4 minutes to play. But after bobbling the snap, Oakland punter Marquette King ran around the right side for a 1st down. Derek Carr and company took advantage of the break and scored to seal the game at 33-16.

It’s an embarrassing loss for the Jaguars on the scoreboard and for their reputation. They lost their composure as the game wore on, suffering ejections and mental meltdowns. Not sure if it’s good or not that they play again on Thursday but just about everybody, especially the fans, should hope to forget about this one quickly.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars Win, Need Work

There’s a lot of talk when you listen to the Jaguars about bouncing back when things don’t go your way, starting fast and overcoming adversity. But in reality, the 2016 team hasn’t been capable of any of that. Losing the opener to Green Bay, the team let that defeat linger for a week and they got blown out by San Diego. The opening drive against the Bears looked solid but ended with a turnover. And things fell apart. Instead of bouncing back from adversity, the Jaguars offense couldn’t get untracked for the rest of the first half while the defense couldn’t get off the field on third down, giving up 10-points, and they trailed 10-0 at halftime. The Bears were able to convert 3rd downs at will throughout the half while the Jaguars offense couldn’t stay on the field.

Wanting to do something different, I watched the 3rd quarter with no tweeting and no sound. I’ve thought the Jags were a few “tweaks” away from being a pretty good team. But after watching like that, I’m losing confidence in some key elements; Leadership, O-Line, Bortles, Bradley’s philosophy.

All along we’ve known that Gus’ coaching philosophy is a grand experiment: empower the players with the accountability element of what drives a team, any team to success. That’s worked in spurts but hasn’t infused the Jaguars culture full-time. On defense, the Jaguars have talent and leadership but something’s flawed either in execution or scheme because too often one thing cracks and the whole thing falls apart.

On offense they have the pieces, albeit young, but when things aren’t going right, they don’t have a leader that can right the ship and get things going in the right direction. That would most easily fall to the quarterback, Blake Bortles. But in 2016, Bortles hasn’t found a rhythm or the form he had in 2015 when he threw 35 touchdowns. So maybe he’s uncomfortable pumping up his teammates when he’s not playing so well. Brandon Linder is a natural leader but it’s tough for the center to motivate anybody except the guys across the offensive line.

Playing better certainly helps and winning solves everything. So in two possessions on offense and one on defense in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars went from a bad team to one that looked like it was fulfilling it’s potential. With the defense being called on to give them a chance, the offense and Bortles found some openings with Allen Hurns making two big catches to get the ball inside the five. On second down (why not first?) Chris Ivory scored his first touchdown as a Jaguar to pull within 6 at 13-7.

Then two chances were squandered. Bortles was hit from behind and fumbled, giving the Bears three points to make it 16-7. He has to know, now in his third year in the league, that guys are going to be catching him from behind and to protect the football. That’s basic stuff. 16-7 Bears. Then Kelvin Beachum was called for a late hit as the Jaguars were driving, moving the ball back to the 30 and forcing them to kick a field goal to make it 16-10. Beachum is smarter than that but it’s that kind of lack of thinking and discipline that one of his teammates has to call out if Bradley’s coaching philosophy is ever going to take hold.

Again the defense did their job, getting the ball back to Bortles and company with plenty of time. An unlikely hero, Aurileus Benn, caught a simple “in” route from his WR spot but when he went to the ground he wasn’t touched. He jumped up and ran 52-yards for the go-ahead TD, 17-16 Jaguars.

That’s when the talent on the Jaguars showed up in the form of rookie corner back Jalen Ramsey. On 4th down, Ramsey was singled up on Alshon Jefferies and broke on the ball to knock it down and preserve the victory for the Jaguars. Ramsey as schooled in the first half by Jefferies. In the second half, the roles were reversed. Even the final play was well designed and executed. With 47 seconds to play and third down, Blake Bortles ran some play action and rolled to his left, looking at the game clock to get under :40 and stay in bounds. He did both, ending the game.

From a miserable three quarters the Jaguars grabbed their second win of the year against a bad Bears team. No matter how bad the Bears are, you’re supposed to beat bad teams and that’s what the Jaguars have done two games in a row. Being able to use this as a springboard to next week’s home game against Oakland will be key.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars Bye Week Approach Slightly Different

In his previous three years as the head coach of the Jaguars, Gus Bradley’s teams are 1-2 in the game immediately after the bye. But a truer picture shows his teams playing better after the bye week. The Jaguars won two of three last year after the trip to London and beat the Giants here in 2013 two weeks after going overseas. This is the earliest the Jaguars have had their bye under Bradley, so he’s hoping the trend of better play after a break continues.

“I hope it starts with a good physical practice,” Bradley said this week when asked why his team plays well later in the year. “I really felt it on Monday. This team came back really fresh. We had some injuries and it gave us a chance to come back healthy. There was a certain spirit you saw at practice.”

Because the players haven’t had any contact since the Colts game, Bradley gave them a chance to get back at it in practice on Wednesday.

“Physical, really challenged the guys up front on both sides of the ball. You come off a bye week and you get a chance to take advantage of that. Highly, highly competitive. Pleased with that part of it. We got a chance to look at a lot of things with the extra day we had on Monday as well.”

Still searching for the winning formula prepping his 2016 team, Bradley says he’s aware of his team’s attitude during the week. After the close loss to Green Bay, he’s mentioned several times that lingered into the next game at San Diego and possibly longer.

“I hate to go back and talk about the past, but I think what took place that was-opening game, that was tough on us. That was really tough so I think to bounce back quickly and go through a mindset. And sometimes as coaches you over-analyze things and I think just that whole week and how we did things and how we approached it, I felt like it was good.”

But with the result on the west coast, as well as the first quarter of the season, Bradley knows he had to change some things during the mid-week practices.

“Yeah. I think that over the bye week as we analyzed our team and figured out more about our team we applied this week. More over the course of four games,” he explained.

With injuries still looming and the addition of Aaron Colvin to the defensive backfield, the team is going to Chicago not exactly sure who can play and who can’t. It’ll be a game day decision for several players and Bradley gave us some insight as to how he’ll select the active 46 players from the 53 on the roster.

“This is a tough week for us. Going through it I know we spent a lot of time on this and just looking at our philosophy going into the game, as far as number of D-linemen, linebacker and [defensive backs]. It is a challenging week for that because we have some guys who are playing really well that may have to be out.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jets Game, Training Camp, Jaguars Still Working

It’s only two weeks or so into training camp but it’s already apparent things are going to be different on defense for the Jaguars this year.

“It was good to see the high level of competition on both sides, going back and forth,” head coach Gus Bradley said after his team faced the New York Jets Thursday night. “Really competitive.”

What’s happened in Jaguars practices continued in the first preseason game with the defense holding their own and the offense getting the fast start they wanted when the two clubs matched their first-teamers. Last year’s defense finished 31st in the league in points allowed and oftentimes didn’t put up much of a fight against the offense with Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in practice. This year, it’s much more even after the money spent in the off-season to shore up the defense and spending all but one of their draft picks on that side of the ball. It showed against the Jets.

“The defense has gotten better so the windows are even more tighter than they were last year, which is only good and is only going to help us out,” Bortles said, reviewing the competitive nature of practices so far. Bortles was 7-8 against the Jets, directing two scoring drives in the Jaguars first two possessions.

After missing last year with an ACL injury, Dante Fowler looks like the player the Jaguars were hoping they would get when they made him their first round pick in 2015. He’s energetic and shows no ill effects of his injury. Although he claims he’s “100%” he doesn’t feel like his explosiveness has come back yet.

“They say that’s the last thing you get back,” he said last week. “But I’m feeling good.”

It’s the first time in over a year that Fowler took the field in a football game. He said it was an “emotional time.”

Veteran free-agent Malik Jackson has mentored Fowler so far in camp, helping him with the nuance of the pro game. He likes what he sees when it comes to the pass rush abilities of Fowler and this year’s 5th round pick, Yannick Ngakoue.

“They definitely have speed, high motors, high energy, very smart and they take coaching well,” Jackson explained.

Although he had a personal foul penalty, Myles Jack drew some positive notices and admitted it’s different than college.

“Everybody’s fast,” he mentioned in the post-game locker room. “Even the offensive linemen. I’ve got a lot of work to do, that’s for sure. But I’m excited about it.”

After having Friday off, the Jaguars were back at practice on Saturday. Julius Thomas sat out with knee soreness but the Jaguars don’t think it’s going to be a problem. Denard Robison had a veterans day off, Davon House was out with hamstring soreness and Aaron Colvin’s ankle was giving him a problem so he didn’t practice. The concern is for rookie DL Sheldon Day, out of practice for about a week now with a back problem. No word on when he’ll return.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars Lose: Same Song, Wrong Notes

It’s pretty simple in the NFL: if you’re quarterback isn’t playing well, you’re not going to win. For most of 2016 Blake *Bortles hasn’t played well and the Jaguars are 2-7. But despite his slump and the Jaguars record, Gus Bradley was plain when he was asked if Bortles should sit for a while and watch.

“No,” he said in his post-game press conference. “I think we’re 59 percent on third down. He made some plays on the run, things we’re going to keep going after, keep taking these shots.”

While he’s right about the statistics, he’s not seeing the whole picture. Or rather he’s not seeing the small picture and plays that can change the landscape of the game with one throw. Bortles has missed wide-open guys for touchdowns at least four times in the last two weeks but Bradley is sticking by him. Blake’s footwork is bad, his mechanics are bad and it appears his confidence in throwing the ball where he wants it is also waning. But Bortles disputed that after the game.

“No, I feel good about it,” he said when asked about his ability to throw the ball downfield. “I mean we had some big P.I.’s (pass interference calls), gave a couple of guys a chance to make plays. I obviously missed (Allen) Hurns on the touchdown down the middle. It’s a work in progress.”

Good answer for your rookie year and even last season. But in your third year in the league, throwing the routine pass should be just that, routine. Those are game-changing plays on the scoreboard, physically and mentally. And when they’re not there, the whole team can feel it. Bradley said the *Bortles in practice is a little different than the *Bortles in games. Blake apparently makes those throws during the week. It’s on Sunday where he’s struggling. That’s a mechanics and mentality problem. It’s like making the 4-footer on the practice green but missing it to win the tournament.

“I believe he had a good week last week in practice,” Gus explained, ever the optimist. “I think there’s going to be plays every week. Missing some deep balls like that, it can happen. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to shy away from it. We have to come up and make those connections when the time calls for it.”

Even Bradley knows the team is underperforming based on the upgrades they made in the off-season. The draft picks and free agents they added to the defense have made it competitive but without solid quarterback play, none of it matters.

“I think we’re a talented team, but talent alone isn’t enough,” the head coach said, echoing what everybody is thinking. “I think that it’s talent and work ethic and the guys working together to accomplish this and playing smart and not having foolish penalties so a combination of things.”

All of those comments are just what you’d expect from Bradley, and pretty much what he has to say. But at 2-7, he sounds a bit Pollyanna-ish when he talks about the future.

“I think we all feel like we’re closer where we can get on a run and it’s not happening. To get on a run, you got to win one game. So we got to start that. You see some plays out there that we are very close.”

No, no. It’s the small things, the discipline, and the precision that wins games in the NFL. There are no “runs” without that. He’s right to ask for “a little more” from each player.

So far this season Marqise Lee has been the best offensive player the Jaguars have and the most improved as well. He’s figured out how to play in the NFL and how to stay healthy enough to stay on the field. He’s able to see a big picture idea of what the difference is between winning and losing at this level.

“At the end of the day, we’ve been in position the last couple of weeks and have had opportunities,” he said standing in front of his locker. “We’ve got to capitalize on those opportunities. At the end of the day, I think that’s what good teams do. It’s not going to be pretty for all four quarters or the whole sixty minutes. We’re not going to play flawless football, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to capitalize on our opportunities.”

“You can’t really do anything about it,” Blake said of the frustration of losing. “It does no good to get mad at the fans for whatever they do. They’re in control of nothing, so it’s on us, it’s on me, to go out and go play. Go play as hard as you can and have fun and be successful. I know people are agitated and frustrated with everything–as are we. This isn’t fun for anybody.”

Amen to that.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Bradley: “It feels different out there”

With a week off, Gus Bradley and the Jaguars staff took some time to reflect on the first four games of the year. Bradley clearly likes the 2016 version of the Jaguars and is equally disappointed that they’ve started 1-3.

“I think there are some areas that we are doing really well,” Gus said at his Monday press conference “I think defensively, the total yards and the sacks. We are getting more pressure. Offensively, I think that we are finding out that it is really important for us to be efficient. I mean, ‘Wow, earth shattering, right?’ ”

That might be the nuts and bolts of what Bradley thinks of his current team but there’s more to it. The intangible of a team that believes it can win and is going to win is somewhere in the current roster’s psyche.

“I like our mentality of our team coming out. I mentioned that before, but it just feels different out there,” Bradley explained. “I mentioned before you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. It just feels different. This team is like, ‘Okay, you know what, we had some things go our way, some things that didn’t. We understand what took place. You know what? Let’s take this now.”

During the bye week the staff dealt with Hurricane Matthew much like the rest of us did. The Jaguars staff was able to work at the stadium looking at the first quarter of the season while they worked the logistics of keeping the players informed about what their plans might be regarding the hurricane. Mainly they tried to “self-scout,” ferretting out their own strengths and weaknesses through four games.

“We had a chance last week with the bye week to really evaluate some things. Scheme, personnel, a lot of things and had some really good discussions”

Specifically, Bradley says the staff pinpointed the problems on offense and narrowed it down to third and long situations. An improved running game will keep those from happening but it was clear in the first quarter of the season, third and long kept the offense from functioning properly.

“On offense we have had a lot of third and long situations. Third and 11-plus. It is not just third and 11. These are third and 20s, third and 23s. Far too many in that area. It comes back to controlling things we can control. The foolish penalties. Penalties overall. False starts, pre-snap, more pre-snap issues for us. ”

During the bye week Luke Joeckel had surgery on his knee and was placed on injured reserve. The former first round pick had shuttled between tackle and guard, doing everything the team asked of him and showing improvement. Bradley said it was disappointing to take Joeckel off the roster.

“He did everything right. It is not supposed to work out this way with a guy that does everything like that. It is just very unfortunate. We will stay strong with him and handle this whole ordeal with him.”

If the difference between winning and losing is small in the NFL, Bradley says the Jaguars are trying to learn together how to turn losses into wins instead of the other way around.

“We are trying to find a way, not only as players, but as a team, to eliminate those things that keep us from victory,” Gus said. “That is what we have been talking about. These things are keeping us from where we want to be. Let’s eliminate those things.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Sawgrass CC: No Issues

As one of the original communities in Ponte Vedra Beach, Sawgrass Country Club has seen all kinds of different weather. Its golf course sits virtually right on the ocean and was the original North Florida host for The Players in early March in the late ’70’s and ’80’s. The weather was so severe one over par won the tournament, forcing the competition back to late March before they moved across the street to the Tournament Players Club.

Despite it’s proximity to the beach, Sawgrass weathered Hurricane Matthew with minimal damage.

“Not much damage,” Ponte Vedra Beach real estate agent and developer Rob Kearney said on Saturday. “We were shocked at the amount of wind we had but just some trees down and a lot of debris. We didn’t see any damage with any rooftops or anything else.”

While water is a big hazard for golfers at Sawgrass, it wasn’t a factor for residents living inside the community. Their lakes and canals connect with Guana Lake and were able to drain without a problem.

“Overall it came up about 2 ½ to 3 feet around the community and the golf course over two days ago,” Kearney explained. “We see some water intrusion in this fairway (7 West) but that’s typical anytime we get a lot of rain here.”

Now making Sawgrass his permanent home, insurance executive Joe Braunstein was very pleased with how things turned out considering the force of Hurricane Matthew. His home along the golf course and on a wide lake handled the storm just fine. “It did, I was really surprised. No trees down, no water in the house, we survived it,” Braunstein said standing along the golf course waterways. “I think the community did a really good job heeding the warning of either evacuating or getting to a safe place.”

Originally from Philadelphia, Joe said this was a first for him, that things are very different in Philly.

“No, we get snow and we get the Eagles,” he said with a laugh.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

PV Residents Say Beach Is Resilient

There’s a certain look to North Florida beaches. Wide and white, backed by sand dunes with a gradual slope to the ocean. Hurricane Matthew changed the topography of the beach, altering even the view from the road.

“It’s pretty powerful, I’ve seen it maybe a dozen times in 30 years,” Bobby Weed, Ponte Vedra resident and golf course designer said while walking on Ponte Vedra Boulevard on Saturday.

“I’ve seen it at Amelia Island in the 70’s and 80’s and here a couple of times,” Weed recalled. “We’ve lost the dunes but the beach is resilient, it’ll come back. I think we’re all very fortunate”

Residents are used to idyllic weather, hot summer days, cool spring and fall breezes and occasional violent storms. But this was completely different.

“The power of the wind and the water is amazing,” Weed’s daughter Haley, said. “We’ve lost our dunes but they’ll grow back. Everything has changed so we’ll have to adapt. It’ll work out.”

“A little bit of devastation,” is how Nocatee resident Kevin Day described it walking back from looking at the ocean. “It wasn’t too bad. I expected it to be worse than I saw. There are palm leaves, trees, a little bit of board damage. And all the dunes have been washed away.”

“At first we thought it was going to be a Cat 4 and my wife wanted to get out of town,” Day explained. “We decided to stay at the last minute and I guess we got lucky.” As a more than 30-year resident of North Florida, and a prominent international golf industry businessman, Bobby Weed had a tinge of pride watching his home town recover.

“I’ve been over in Orange Park picking up my youngest daughter this morning and I’ve been impressed. Everybody’s pitching in and cleaning up. It’s a good community effort.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Historic Ponte Vedra Inn And Club Survives Matthew

Originally built in 1928 the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club is one of the most historic places on Florida’s east coast. Selected to host the Ryder Cup in 1939 and withstanding Hurricane Dora’s wrath in 1964, the Inn was 80% full as Hurricane Matthew steamed towards Jacksonville’s beaches.

“We informed our guests during the week and had a lot of cooperation getting people out safely,” Dale Haney, President of the Gate Hospitality group told us on Saturday.

Generations of families in North Florida have treated the club as their own, using it as a weekend retreat, a place to hold weddings or summer vacations. It’s no surprise Haney took calls before and after Matthew from residents and members asking about the club’s ability to survive.

“We’ve had calls since the storm was announced,” Haney said. “This is a second home for a lot of people and a big part of their lifestyle and an important part of their lives.”

Much like in 1964, the club itself survived the hurricane force winds. When Dora hit, it flooded inland. For Matthew, the seawall, the rooms on the ocean and the club itself kept the water on the east side of Ponte Vedra Boulevard.

“The structure held up fine,” Haney explained. “All the buildings are brick, the gym is on the second floor.”

“We do have pavers under all this sand,” Haney said light heartedly, adding, “It’s really a beach club covered with sand. I believe a wave came right through. The beach came to the club.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars: Two Weeks To Clean Things Up

It’s apparent that Gus Bradley knows where the issues are on his team and will spend the next two weeks trying to fix them. Despite the much-needed win in London against the Colts Bradley’s post-game locker room speech was about “cleaning things up.” At one point in the second quarter the Jaguars had more penalty yards than offensive yards, keeping Indianapolis in the game.

“I know it wasn’t the cleanest game of football, especially on our side, but we talked about being aggressive, especially in the run game,” Bradley said in his post game comments. “We felt offensively we needed to get that going, and I felt like we were more aggressive up front.”

All of that’s fine and I’ve thought Bradley’s comments in his first few years were the right things to say when building a young team. But at this point the “little things” they talk about that bite you in the NFL in the form of getting beat.

End game situation, tight quarters, veteran quarterback, somehow the safety and the corner got mixed up on the call and Andrew Luck threw a 64-yard TD pass to a wide open receiver. Bradley likes to talk about “situational football” so in that situation the only thing that you can’t let happen, happened. Gus had an explanation but I thought he should have been more in an “unacceptable” mode.

“Yeah, the scissors route, yeah,” he said when I asked him about it. “We missed the coverage. We didn’t play it according to the call. Whether there was some confusion, I think we’ll all take responsibility for that one. Sometimes you have double-digit calls based on formation and based on where personnel is, things like that. When it’s a no-huddle situation, to get that communication across the board is difficult.”

Whether there are double-digit calls or no-huddle, good teams get that kind of thing done in critical situations. Understanding the reason it happened I suppose is the first step to getting it fixed. And perhaps he can’t say much else in public but accountability is one of the reasons those guys are getting paid on Sundays.

When I pressed him, Gus still saw the positive part of what his defense was doing.

“I felt like we played pretty good up until the last couple of series,” he explained. “We had a couple coverage busts, no-huddle situations, where we just weren’t on the same page, and we’ll learn from that one now. You just can’t do it in a no-huddle situation.”

While Indy doesn’t look like world beaters, the Jaguars did show some resiliency by hanging on for a victory. I know they showed a stat about blown leads in the Gus Bradley era, the most in the NFL, but this time a couple of guys made plays and they got their first win of the year.

“Well, I think we’ve been a team, other than our second game, that has fought and battled our way, we just didn’t have some things go our way, whether it’s breaks or we just didn’t make plays when we had the opportunity,” Gus said when I asked him about the sideline attitude during the Colts’ run in the second half. “We felt as a coaching staff, we’re right there. We need to make those plays in critical times, and today you saw it. Just really critical plays made by our team.”

There is a lot that goes into the trip to London but the Jaguars have won back to back games there despite the long plane flight and the logistics of getting the team, staff, cheerleaders, D-Line and it seems everybody else in teal and black across the Atlantic.

“We think every victory is important,” Blake *Bortles said in front of a mixed US/UK post-game media gathering. “Obviously the situation and the circumstances of this one is big, it’s good. We’re excited about it. We’ll celebrate it, and it feels good to go through a week of preparation, to come over here, to handle some different things with the flight and do some different stuff and come out and still win, handle adversity well.”

It’s starting to feel like a home game there with the familiarity of the trip, hotel, stadium and schedule. There’s also a growing fan base in London, not just on Regent Street the day before the game but in the stadium, cheering for the Jaguars.

Being committed to London through 2020 is a positive thing for the business side of the franchise. Perhaps it’s the same for the football team as well.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars Beat Colts

Neither team seemed to be able to get their footing, literally and figuratively in the first half at Wembley. The field was “heavy” and slick and the offenses of the Jaguars and the Colts couldn’t find a rhythm. For the Jaguars, a blocked pass by Dante Fowler fell into the arms of Yannick Ngakoue for a turnover deep in Colts territory. Blake *Bortles followed that with a TD pass from 3 yards out to Allen Robinson to take a 7-0 lead.

Even though the Jaguars had the lead, midway through the second quarter the Colts dominated the time of possession, kicked two field goals and stayed in the game. Neither quarterback could get untracked with their combined total being less than 100 yards passing. In fact, the Jaguars had more penalty yards than offensive yards.

Things changed as the Jaguars started to run the ball. With both T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory available, the offensive line got comfortable and started opening up holes on the inside. That made the Colts respect play action and Bortles started to find open receivers. He scored on a little bootleg to make it 14-6 The Jaguars had 80 yards rushing in the first half with Bortles hitting six different receivers.

A nice drive at the end of the half resulted in a FG. Bortles threw it short with just :07 on the clock and Jason Myers kicked it for a 17-6 halftime lead.

For the first time in recent memory the Jaguars scored on the drive at the end of the half and the opening drive of the second half, opening up a 20-6 lead after another Myers field goal. The defense continued to hold the Colts in check throughout the 3rd quarter when Myers added another FG to make it a three score game 23-6. The Jaguars had 9 penalties for 116 yards through three quarters but also had 128 yards rushing.

Starting the 4th quarter the feeling in the stadium was that the Jaguars had control of the game but couldn’t let up. The Colts couldn’t win the game without help from the Jaguars. That’s when Indy scored their first TD against a soft zone to pull within 23-13. And they did it again with the help of a pass interference call against Devon House making it 23-20. House has been picked on all year and Sunday was no different. Aaron Colvin is eligible next week so it’ll be interesting if they give him a shot at the corner spot. Josh Johnson saw a lot of action there against the Colts.

For the first time this year the Jaguars responded to a score in a critical situation. Bortles hit Yeldon a couple of times in the flat for first downs then threw it to Hurns on a simple out route that looked like another first down. Instead, Hurns broke a tackle, cut inside, picked up some blockers and ran for a 42 yard TD to take a 30-20 lead with 5 minutes to play.

In the four years the Jaguars have been here, their fan base has grown, especially at the games and the knowledge of the European and UK fans has expanded. When Hurns scored, the place erupted like a home game. They used to get excited about FG’s and punts but the locals have gotten used to the game.

It’s been a while since the Jaguars answered an opponent’s score late in the game but they did just that on the next drive. After a couple of balls in the flat to T.J. Yeldon, Bortles hit Allen Hurns on an out route but instead of running out of bounds, Hurns cut inside, picked up blockers and scored from 42 yards out to give the Jaguars a 30-20 lead.

Not being able to stand prosperity, there was a mix up on third down in the defensive backfield and Andrew Luck threw a 64 yard TD with 3 minutes to play to cut the lead back to just 3. That’s the kind of thing that just can’t happen in that situation. Whether it was Jalen Ramsey or somebody else, you can’t give up the big play there.

It looked a felt like the Green Bay and the Baltimore games in the last two minutes with the Jaguars holding on by their fingernails. But this time the defense, maybe more specifically Josh Johnson made a play on 4th down to let the Jaguars eventually run out the clock. Indy got the ball back but couldn’t do anything with it. Sen’Derrick Marks had a big sack of Andrew Luck and the Jaguars win 30-27.

It wasn’t pretty but maybe with a taste of winning and a week off, the Jaguars will go into the next part of the season with some confidence.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars/Colts: 4 To Watch 4

Jaguars vs. Colts: 4 to watch 4

1. Stopping the run, running the ball
In the loss to San Diego, it was apparent the Chargers were going to get things done from the first drive. San Diego ran the ball effectively and scored easily on their first drive taking a 7-0 lead. The Jaguars went three and out on their first drive and the Chargers went on to dominate from there. The difference? San Diego ran the ball at will. The Jaguars couldn’t and the game got out of hand quickly. With Chris Ivory back in the lineup and Brandon Linder and Kelvin Beachum expected to return to the offensive line, the Jaguars should be able to run the ball. Gus Bradley said this week the Jaguars have to be able to run the ball even when the other team knows they’re going to run the ball. But if they can’t stop the run they won’t get the opportunity.

2. Take advantage of London
It’s the fourth year the Jaguars have played at Wembley Stadium where they won for the first time in 2015. That’s why this year they followed last season’s trip schedule to a “T.” Nobody in the league will admit to being superstitious but if they win, they’ll do exactly the same thing, week after week. The Jaguars have left on Sunday, left on Monday and on Thursday. Leaving on Sunday saw the Jaguars lost to the 49ers. Leaving on Monday they lost to the Cowboys. Leaving on Thursday, they beat the Bills. So this year they left on Thursday at the same time, stayed in the same hotel, practiced at the same place and followed the same schedule. Bradley said this week they think they found the right schedule that works for his team, with the input of the players. That might sound juvenile but every team does it. On the other hand, most of the players on the Jaguars roster have been on this trip before so they know the routine. Nothing is going to surprise them. On the other hand the Colts don’t know the routine. With some leadership, the Jaguars should settle into a routine that worked and make it work for them again.

3. Preach what they’ve practiced
After each of their three losses the Jaguars have talked about “doing the little things,” and “sweeping the corners.” But those little things that they haven’t swept have cost them all three games. I asked Gus Bradley if he thought he had enough veteran leadership in the locker room to explain the nuanced difference between winning and losing in the NFL. “That’s what today’s meeting was about,” was Bradley’s immediate response, recognizing that could be an issue on a young team. Around the league the Jaguars reputation is that of a young, undisciplined team on the field. Not undisciplined as in running afoul of the law but rather committing critical errors at critical times. Bradley admits that his team’s consistency is lacking on the big plays, but that’s what separates winners from losers in a “50-50” league like the NFL. If they’re going to talk about getting the little things right, then do it.

4. Bortles must play better
This week Blake said he wasn’t sure why he was in a funk but admitted that his mistakes were “stupid and easily correctable.” Bortles hasn’t been in any kind of rhythm this year save for a 9 of 10 stretch in the third quarter against Baltimore. He’s been flat-footed, hasn’t felt the pressure and is willing to check down quickly instead of giving his playmakers a chance to get something done. Thus the Jaguars haven’t had any “explosive” plays. Bortles overall completion percentage is up (63%) but his consistency is down. Bradley pointed out the missed balls to Marqis Lee, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas that could have been big plays and possibly touchdowns. On the other hand, the two throws to Allen Robinson for touchdowns against Baltimore were perfect. So consistency is the key for Bortles this week.

Randomly: With a triceps injury it’s just about the time it takes to heal for Jarod Odrick. He didn’t tear the muscle off the bone but rather has a soft tissue injury that will keep him out of the game against Indianapolis. He didn’t make the trip and neither did Nick Marshall. Dan Skuta and Julius Thomas will be game time decisions. Everybody else is expected to play. Former Jaguar Kyle Brady has been in London this week helping to represent the team for the NFL. Brady also has some family close to London so he’s enjoyed the stay and plans to make it a regular trip. When NFL teams fly to London they charter through Virgin Atlantic. The teams fly the A340-600, the longest commercial plane in the world. Indianapolis’ flight was a bit delayed on Thursday and the Jaguars got to London a little early Friday morning so the two teams missed each other by about 10 minutes in baggage claim at Heathrow. Back at Allianz field, home of the Saracens Rugby Club, they went through an up-tempo walk through this week. Saracens won both the English and the European Rugby Championship this past season. The Jaguars hope some of that rubs off.