Dead Zone

After the latest Jaguars loss, Coach Gus Bradley was his usual even-tempered self in talking to the media.

“Highly competitive game. What can you say? They’ve got a great quarterback,” Bradley said, referring to the San Diego Chargers, who are 3-8 now.

“With us, we’re creating a standard of what’s acceptable” and “it’s a high standard.”

If you’re like me, that sounds familiar. There’ve been a couple of occasions when I have called for the removal of Gus Bradley as Jaguars’ coach. One as recently as this year. Part of what irks: verbiage like that, which is essentially meaningless.

Anyone out there striving for a low standard of acceptability? Anyone, that is, willing to say it into a live mic?

“The big story is the red zone,” Bradley said, both offensively and defensively.

And he’s absolutely right. The Jaguars looked great between the 20s. Then, Field Goal City. The Chargers, meanwhile, without any great semblance of a running game, were able to use their tight ends, Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green, to impose their will on the Jags’ secondary.

The Jags, meanwhile, weren’t imposing their will on anyone. Part of the issue: TJ Yeldon had no carries in the red zone, an odd move for a franchise running back, especially given the complaints over the offense not funneling the ball to him in first-and-goal situations in earlier games.

“I thought we moved the ball,” Bradley said, but field goals instead of touchdowns “change[d] the dynamics” of the game.

That’s half-right. The facts are that the Jaguars had control of the game through much of the first half. They didn’t press the advantage and drive toward the end zone. They played what used to be called finesse football. And they lack the nuance, in terms of personnel and arguably coaching, to pull that off.

Bortles, meanwhile, made some “big plays,” “flashes of things,” said Bradley.

“I see him make some of the throws and the decision-making we’re applauding … but in the red zone, there’s not enough there.”

How much of that is Bortles? How much of it is play-calling? Maybe if the Jags had done a better job stringing together some of those suffocating, nine-minute drives for which they do have the personnel, the outcome might have been different.

Bradley spent much of the press conference raving about Philip Rivers, quarterback of a 3-8 team that will finish last in its division.

What happened today “was something more than unfortunate” and was “unacceptable,” Bradley said. But no worries; no lineup changes are planned.

Indeed, at this point, the cupboard is quite bare.

Bortles, in his comments, said the team did a “good job moving the ball” down to the red zone, but a “lack of execution” sealed the Big Cats’ fate.

“I’ve got to be sharper on reads and progressions,” Bortles said, citing the two illegal forward passes, which even earned a Deadspin write-up, as attempts to extend the play as “long as possible.”

“I don’t know from a coach’s perspective what you tell a guy who did that,” Bortles said, regarding the two passes in the red zone past the line of scrimmage.

“Quit being an idiot or something,” he added.

In a different context, that would have gotten a laugh. In front of this press corps, frustrated almost to a person by covering perennial losers, the joke passed as another lost comment in yet another lost season.

The Jags, now two games off the pace in the AFC South, could turn it around. Who believes they will, though?

About EU Jacksonville

october, 2021

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