Much like he did earlier in the season when the Jaguars were struggling in the red zone, Head Coach Gus Bradley has spent some extra time in practice on third down this week. On both offense and defense.
“I just think again it’ll be an area of emphasis,” Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson said at his weekly Wednesday press conference. “It’s certainly unacceptable. We were 0-for-6 to start the game two weeks ago and finished 2-of-3 in the second half. Last week, we went 0-of-8. It’ll be an emphasis here as we finish the regular season.
And Bradley is devoting extra practice time to the third down situations, especially trying to simulate he tempo of the game situation. Olson laid out specifically how the Jaguars arranged practice.
“We spent two extra periods on it today and the same tomorrow. At the end of practice, it was five-play specialty period at the end of practice, and during the course of practice we had an eight-play period.”
Bradley said he was pleased with how it went and the emphasis put on ‘situational football.’ “We incorporated two periods of third down work, one in the middle of practice and one towards the end ‘good versus good.’ We’ve had this situation where it was in the red zone and we wanted to address it with more plays and just bring the emphasis up to our team, so I was pleased with how it went.”
Fixing the Jaguars third down problem on offense will directly have an effect on the ability to get the offense going quickly. The Jaguars have become a notoriously slow starting team, but converting third downs keeps drives going to give them an early opportunity to score.
“We look at that all the time,” Olson said. “We’ll continue to find ways, as we research it, to find out what’s the reason for the slow starts and certainly third downs has been a big part If we can convert some of those third downs, it has a chance to lead to some scores.”
As a coaching staff, the Jaguars coaches consult with the players to see what they’re comfortable will, what they liked in practice and how they think it’ll go in the upcoming game. From the quarterback to running backs and offensive linemen, everybody has some input during the week. A good blend of pass and run is the most desirable situation but Olson said those numbers can be deceiving.
“We’ve been in a number of two minute situations. Not only at the end of the game, but at halftime. That’ll increase your throwing attempts. It’s a good feeling when you’re up on a team and you can get in that run mode and can consistently win and be efficient in running the football in those situations.”