When a coach looks at “game video” they look at it very specifically. When Gus Bradley breaks a game down he looks at the offense, defense, offensive line, etc. position by position looking for good, and not so good plays across the board. After the loss to the Ravens, Bradley chose 60 plays to show the team the day after. That’s a lot of breakdowns throughout a game where the Jaguars squandered a couple of chances to win.
“We went through a bunch of plays,” Bradley said at his weekly Monday press conference. “The big point is consistency and it’s a game of inches.”
Although quarterback Blake Bortles had a completion percentage of 63%, there were some critical misses that cost Jaguars scoring opportunities.
“It’s also a game of inches situation where it’s just off the fingertips of Allen Robinson, overthrew Marqise Lee a little bit. Missed Julius Thomas on a seam route,” Gus explained. There are those things. Telvin Smith had three great plays and then there’s one where he dropped too far and allowed a completion to happen. That was the big message that I was pointing out to them, that the NFL is a game of inches and you have to do it consistently. We’re not making enough of those consistent plays in those times.”
So is there blame to be had? Perhaps everybody shoulders some of it, including the head coach. How to they take that last step to win close games after upgrading the roster to being competitive? I asked Gus if there was enough veteran leadership to know the nuanced difference between winning and losing in the NFL.
“Yeah, I think they do a good job of it. I think that is what this meeting was about, too, just to ensure that we understand,” Gus said, anticipating that could be an issue with a young team.
“To look back and say we could have been or we should have been, I am not into looking into the past very much like that. To point out the opportunities and you would like to see this team when you are in those situations take ownership and say, ‘Let’s roll.’ A guy like Brandon Linder is a strong presence in our offensive line, a very strong presence. I don’t know if we missed that presence yesterday. If you do, then someone has to step up and be that presence.”
From a team standpoint, that presence is *Bortles. They talked to Blake early in his career about his body language. His improved play last year put his stamp on the Jaguars offense. This year he’s struggled and he knows it.
“He’s put a lot on him now because he knows he wants to play better and give more to this team,” Bradley added. Like we pointed out in the team meeting, there are multiple good plays there. It’s everybody. It wasn’t just Blake or Telvin, Jalen Ramsey, it was multiple guys that we pointed out just how important those little things are.”
All of the chatter outside the stadium about Gus’ job and how long he has is well known to Bradley and the players in the locker room. But there’s not much he can say or do about it other than keep coaching and win games. I do think he needs to ask more of the players, more discipline, more focus, more attention to that little thing that makes the difference between winning and losing.
If they were just looking at development, the Jaguars see the defense figuring out how to play together. They created chances at the end of the game for the offense to score points and put the game away. It just didn’t happen.
They couldn’t run the ball for the third straight week and Bradley knows that his team will have to run the ball effectively even when the other team knows they’re going to run it if they want to win some games. Especially close ones.
“Green Bay, when you’re on the 14-yard line and its third and two, you have a chance to win the game and then Baltimore, you have two opportunities inside the 40 to win the game, just get a first down and get a field goal, that’s your worst case scenario,” Bradley said, getting more animated with the explanation. “That’s the part that our team has to learn. That part right there could very easily have swung in our favor, but it didn’t. There’s a reason for it. That’s what I think this meeting was about. You have to figure this out now.”