JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley wasn’t talking injuries afterward.
The Jaguars’ roster entered the day depleted and finished even more so, but when the first-year head coach talked about a 20-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, who was and wasn’t playing wasn’t the focus.
The focus was opportunities, because Bradley said the Jaguars had plenty.
They just didn’t take advantage nearly often enough.
“The issue was we didn’t get some stops at critical times, and when we had opportunities on offense we didn’t capture those,” Bradley said after the final 2013 regular-season at EverBank Field.
Bradley said that in that sense Sunday was similar to a 27-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills last week.
“We always talk about, ‘Give your best to be your best and position yourself to strike,’” Bradley said. “We were position today. We didn’t finish. Last week: we were in position. We didn’t finish it. Those are the things we’ll grow from.”
The Jaguars, who led 13-6 at halftime and 16-6 midway through the third quarter, allowed the game’s final 14 points, missing a chance to sweep their AFC South rivals. First, running back Shonn Greene scored on a 1-yard third-quarter run, then Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passed 30 yards to Nate Washington early in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars had a chance to lead by eight at halftime, but safety Bernard Pollard blocked an extra point by kicker
“The blocked extra point ended up being a big play in the game, but there were other plays that led to it,” Bradley said.
Many of those plays came when the Titans were running against a beat-up Jaguars defense.
Greene rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and Chris Johnson rushed for 90 yards on 22 carries as the Titans finished with 182 yards on 44 carries. The Jaguars, after not allowing an opponent to rush for more than 100 yards in the first five games after the bye, allowed 198 to the Buffalo Bills last week.
The Jaguars defense entered the game without defensive tackle
“They did a good job running the ball against us,” Bradley said. “We had some things maybe we counted on in the past (that they couldn’t count on Sunday) due to some new personnel in there. We just had to tighten it up a little bit. It was hit-and-miss. There were some inconsistencies.
“What I loved about our team was we competed – from start to finish and everywhere in between. That’s what we said we were going to do and I don’t think our guys flinched one bit with new personnel in there. I really appreciate that part of it.”
WAIT AND SEE
Jaguars running back
Jones-Drew, who played through a thigh injury that kept him out of the team’s loss last week to Buffalo, rushed for 45 yards on 13 carries Sunday, but the pressing question afterward was whether the game was the eight-year veteran’s last at EverBank Field.
The three-time Pro Bowl running back’s contract expires after the season.
“If it is, it is,” Jones-Drew said. “If it isn’t, I had a great run. It’s part of this game. We all know that. There’s a business aspect that no one wants to talk about that’s the pink elephant in the room. But that’s what this is. Sometimes, you have to walk away and sometimes you can stay. Hopefully, I can be like (14-year veteran center Brad) Meester and be back.
“We have a couple of months we can figure that out after next week, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has said throughout the season that the team will negotiate with free agents following the season. He and Jones-Drew have said publicly in recent weeks they would like Jones-Drew to return.
Gratz sustained a first-half ankle injury and did not return. Deaderick sustained a dislocated elbow in the first half.
1.Bradley: “I told them, ‘You can’t climb a smooth mountain.’ Sometimes there’s going to be roughness on the journey. We need those spots to learn from to continue on our journey and get where we want to go.”
2.DT Sen’Derrick Marks: “If you sit down and think about (injuries), you can say it matters, but the guys that stepped in – it’s not like they’re guys who have only been here a week. They’re guys we practiced with. They understand our scheme. They know what we’re trying to get done. We played with good spirit and good toughness. They (the Titans) just made a lot more plays than what we did.”
1.The Jaguars allowed 68 yards rushing in the first half and led 16-6 midway through the third quarter, but the momentum turned on an 11-play, 80-yard drive by the Titans on the ensuing possession. Bradley said the Titans went with a heavy running package on that series, which ended with eight rushing plays for 59 yards. Bradley said while coordinator Bob Babich and the staff got the situation fixed, that series and a 73-yard drive that ended with the go-ahead touchdown on the ensuing series turned the momentum. “We got set back a little right there,” Bradley said.
3.The key play offensively for the Jaguars came with 5:25 remaining in the second half. Facing fourth-and-1 from the Titans 20, Jones-Drew ran to the right and was stopped by defensive end Ropati Pitoitia for a 1-yard loss. Bradley said he briefly considered a field-goal attempt, but that it wasn’t a difficult decision to go for the first down. “They did a good job fitting the gaps,” Jones-Drew said. “Usually, we can find a crease. The crease was outside. The guy came and grabbed my foot and I couldn’t get to No. 31 (Pollard) one-on-one. They did a good job.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The Jaguars will visit the Indianapolis Colts in the regular-season finale on Sunday, December 29, at 1 p.m.