In the week that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan announced that Gus Bradley would be back for 2016 as the Head Coach, the organization’s focus was split between playing Houston and what to expect next year.
“If they’re cleared, they’ll play,” Bradley said when asked about putting players in the game Sunday. Neither Telvin Smith nor TJ Yeldon will play against the Texans because of injuries. Everybody else who’s available will play.
Last year against the Texans, Sen”Derrick Marks suffered a torn ACL that cost him the first six games of the year. The Jaguars aren’t taking any precautions keeping players out of the final game of 2015 while thinking about 2016. More than likely though, if the game gets out of hand either way, players like Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Blake Bortles will come out of the game.
At the taping of his namesake show, Bradley told me this week he wasn’t focused on Khan’s statement but was “looking forward to the opportunity.” Bradley is authentic in not worrying about his job security. He goes to work every day trying to be better than yesterday. “I don’t have any control over those other things” he’s told me several times over the last three years.
And while this week has been touted as having a “playoff atmosphere” in truth, so many things have to happen for the Texans to NOT win the division that it’ll be more like the final game of the regular season than anything else. Houston will be looking forward to their next opponent and getting quarterback Brian Hoyer some playing time, and the Jaguars will be evaluating their current roster with an eye toward next year.
There will be some changes for 2016, nearly every roster will have a 40% turnover, about 20 new players on the roster next year. The Jaguars will be no different, and perhaps have a few more. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson gave us some insight into next year when he started his answer with, “For those of us who will be coming back” when asked about the upcoming offseason. But his excitement about another year of work for Blake *Bortles and the entire offense was clear.
“We talked about it at the first of the season it wasn’t an ideal situation to come in the second year of a new coordinator, new quarterbacks coach but he has done his part in learning the system and getting better the second year.”
Olson says they’ll first evaluate their coaching techniques and concepts before working with the players on improving.
“The first guys we’ll have back are the quarterbacks when they’re allowed to come back,” he explained. “He knows he wants to improve on things,” Olson said when asked specifically about Bortles. “He’s gotten better but has a long way to go.”
After being injured as a rookie, Luke Joeckel has been in the lineup at left tackle for nearly two full seasons. Olson thinks he’s just not getting better but needs another offseason to be stronger and play with more power.
“He’s still showing growth, I think from last year to this year there’s more strength, there’s more power that’s evident on tape but it’s not there yet. Certainly he needs to get better and we need to help him get better in terms of the offseason and what he’s doing in the offseason.”
An injury in the preseason slowed TE Julius Thomas’ development with *Bortles but Olson thinks another off season of working together will bring Thomas more into the focal point of the offense.
First, the coaching staff will “self scout” the entire season, something that they do on a limited basis after ever game.
“Each coach is assigned an area; Nate Hackett has red zone, Frank Scelfo has third downs, Doug Marrone has run game, I handle the passing game,” Olson outlined. “So each coach has an area and each week we kind of put it into a notebook and we talk about it. What happened? Where were the breakdowns? The first week back each will go to their area and summarize what happened on the season, where were we at, where are the breakdowns, what concepts were good, what concepts were bad, what are the other concepts in the League, we will look at the top five third down teams, who are the top five red zone teams, what concepts do they have that will work in our system? A lot of that will be how we spend the first couple of weeks.”
In other words, the Jaguars have a lot of work to do. And it starts right away.