As the Jaguars begin preparations for Sunday's game at home against Miami, coach Gus Bradley will have his news conference at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET during which he'll provide an update of the status of Toby Gerhart (foot). He has missed the past two games. In addition to his health, we'll find out how the Jaguars plan to use him with Denard Robinson.
Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles struggled against Cleveland -- except when the Jaguars were in the two-minute drill. He also drove the Jaguars down the field for a touchdown late in the game against Tennessee and got them in position for a potential game-winning field goal, too. He's really comfortable running the two-minute drill.
The weekly buzz video, in which I talk about whether Robinson can be the team's feature back, will post at 10 a.m. ET.
They are ranked by targets, which is a true measure of how much a receiver is utilized. We’re using the qualifier of having a minimum of four targets per game.
Here’s the list of the top-targeted rookie receivers (28 targets needed to qualify):
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina (61): He only had three catches for 61 yards on six targets in a 38-17 loss to Green Bay, though one was for a touchdown. He has 34 catches for 477 yards and five touchdowns. The yardage and TDs lead all rookie receivers.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville (52): He had four receptions for 60 yards in the Jaguars’ 24-6 victory over Cleveland. One was a 31-yard catch-and-run that resulted in his first career touchdown. He has 34 catches for 371 yards.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans (42): Cooks had just two catches for 23 yards in the Saints’ 24-23 loss to Detroit. He has 34 catches for 278 yards and one touchdown.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville (40): He had just one catch for 7 yards against the Browns and has 19 receptions for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia (36): The Eagles were idle. He has 23 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (33): The Buccaneers were idle. He has 21 catches for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
John Brown, Arizona (33): He had a light day in the Cardinals’ 24-13 victory over Oakland, catching just two passes for 41 yards. He has 17 catches for 197 yards and three TDs.
The victory snapped a nine-game losing streak that dated back to last season and an 18-game losing streak in games played in September and October that dated back to 2012. There were contributions from all three phases as well as some standout individual performances
Here’s this week’s Top 10 Playmakers, with last week’s rankings in parenthesis:
2. LB Telvin Smith (NR): The rookie fifth-round pick had a breakout game, recording a sack, a forced fumble, and intercepting a pass he nearly returned for a touchdown. He also nearly had another interception but couldn’t hold on. Smith is getting more comfortable as the season progresses so we should be seeing more of him on the field.
3. WR Allen Robinson (4): His streak of consecutive games with at least five catches was snapped at four, but he still caught four passes for 60 yards and his first career TD. That touchdown catch came late in the first half when he shook a tackle from cornerback Buster Skrine at the 20-yard line and scored to put the Jaguars ahead 7-6.
4. LB Paul Posluszny (NR): Posluszny was all over the field before leaving the game late in the fourth quarter with a torn pectoral muscle. He led the team with 12 tackles, had one of the three sacks, and recovered the fumble that Smith forced.
5. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (5): Marks keyed a defensive front that held a Browns attack that was averaging 146.4 yards per game rushing to just 69 yards. He had one tackle for loss, hit QB Brian Hoyer twice, and knocked down two passes at the line of scrimmage.
6. TE Clay Harbor (2): Harbor caught a team-high six passes for 34 yards, including a critical 24-yard catch-and-run during the Jaguars’ two-minute drill at the end of the first half. That play put the Jaguars at the Cleveland 31, and Bortles hooked up with Allen Robinson for the touchdown on the next snap.
7. LB LaRoy Reynolds (NR): His fumble recovery of a muffed punt in the fourth quarter set up the Jaguars’ clinching touchdown, an 8-yard run by Denard Robinson.
8. QB Blake Bortles (1): Why is he on the list when it was his worst game as a starter? Because he was very good when it mattered most. Bortles directed the Jaguars on a 76-yard touchdown drive in a two-minute drill at the end of the first half. He was 3-for-3 for 71 yards and a TD on that drive and 14-for-28 for 88 yards in the rest of the game. The two-minute drill somewhat overshadowed his struggles: Three interceptions, 55 percent passing, and a season-low 159 yards.
9. The secondary: The group played its best game of the season, allowing Hoyer to complete only 39 percent of his passes and holding him to 215 yards. The group gave up one big play -- a 65-yard reception by Andrew Hawkins -- but the Browns weren’t able to get any points on that drive. The DBs were physical with Cleveland’s receivers and that knocked off some of the timing.
10. The offensive line: Like the secondary, it’s hard to single out one player on the unit, which also played its best game of the season. In addition to opening holes for Denard Robinson’s career day, the line only gave up two sacks and gave Bortles good protection most of the day.
Playing a rookie quarterback means dealing with a lot of mistakes as he goes through the learning process, but the Jacksonville Jaguars need Blake Bortles to start cutting down on his interceptions beginning with Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins.
Bortles has thrown 10 interceptions in the five games in which he has played (four starts) and that puts him on pace to tie Peyton Manning's rookie record of 28 interceptions. Some of them haven't been his fault -- Allen Hurns slipped coming out of a break and Cecil Shorts III couldn't come back to a pass because he hurt his hamstring, for example -- but most are the result of poor decisions. That's what happened twice against the Browns.
Bortles' first interception came because he was hit as he threw by linebacker Jabaal Sheard. In studying film, it's clear his second interception came because he was confused by what the Browns did after the snap and he threw the ball off his back foot and tried to squeeze it into a tight window to Denard Robinson.
The third interception was worse when re-watched on film. Bortles stepped up into the pocket and easily could have run for a first down on third-and-5 from the Cleveland 14-yard line. Instead, just before he crossed the line of scrimmage, he tried to hit Shorts at the 6 with a last-second pass. He never saw cornerback Buster Skrine charging Shorts and it was an easy interception in the red zone that cost the Jaguars points.
A positive: Coach Gus Bradley said Bortles at least has an awareness as it's happening that he has made a poor decision on some throws, which shows progress from earlier in the season.
"I know in my conversation with him it's coming to him right before the play happens and when he's going and right before he throws the ball it's like, 'Oh, maybe I shouldn't have thrown that,' where before it was 'I'm throwing it' and it was an interception," Bradley said. "He is building a consciousness about it."
One of Bortles' biggest strengths is he doesn't often make the same mistake twice, so some of the poor decisions he's making won't be repeated. He's a bit of a gunslinger so he's always going to take chances, but he's got to understand when to take those chances. In the red zone holding a four-point lead in the third quarter isn't one of those times. That's something that comes only with experience.
The Jaguars' defense bailed out Bortles with three turnovers but the Jaguars can't count on that happening every week. The Dolphins are coming off a big road victory at Chicago in which they sacked Jay Cutler three times and forced him into a pair of turnovers. You can bet they'll come at Bortles pretty hard Sunday. If the Jaguars are going to get victory No. 2, Bortles will have to cut down on poor decisions.
CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco writes that he likes the fact Robinson has become a tougher runner.
SI.com's Michael Beller writes that Robinson is going to find himself picked up in a lot of fantasy leagues going forward after his breakout performance against Cleveland.
The T-U's Vito Stellino has a Q&A with defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks in which they talk about stopping the Cleveland Browns' rushing attack, Bradley's mentality, and how the team will recover from the injuries to Paul Posluszny and Andre Branch.
From this blog, Posluszny discusses missing the rest of the season, the Jaguars aren't going to be able to replace his production and leadership, and Blake Bortles shining in the two-minute drill.
What do the Jaguars have to work on the most this week as they prepare for Sunday's home game against Miami? The top priority is getting quarterback Blake Bortles to cut down on interceptions. I'll examine that further in the weekly post called The Film Don't Lie.
The weekly ranking of the Jaguars' top 10 playmakers will post in the afternoon. It should be easy to figure out who is atop the list.
This afternoon also provides the weekly rankings of the rookie receivers. It's based on targets, which is a good way to see how vital the receivers are to their team's offense. The Jaguars didn't have a great day throwing the football but Allen Robinson was targeted seven times in the victory over Cleveland. Was that enough to move him into second place among rookies?
Offense (73 total snaps)
LG Zane Beadles: 73
LT Luke Joeckel: 73
RG Brandon Linder: 73
C Luke Bowanko: 69
RT Austin Pasztor: 73
QB Blake Bortles: 73
WR Allen Robinson: 66
WR Cecil Shorts: 65
TE Clay Harbor: 61
RB Denard Robinson: 45
WR Allen Hurns: 38
TE Nic Jacobs: 27
RB Jordan Todman: 20
FB Will Ta'ufo'ou: 18
WR Marqise Lee: 14
RB Storm Johnson: 10
C Jacques McClendon: 4
WR Ace Sanders: 1
Analysis: The Jaguars continue to use Sanders on offense sparingly. He was targeted on his only snap and he caught the pass from Bortles for 0 yards. The Jaguars want Sanders to concentrate on punt returns and improve his performance there (7.2 yards per return). Sanders caught 51 passes as a rookie in 2013. ... Johnson went from starting and getting 10 carries against Tennessee to seeing just 10 snaps. But he ran the ball on six of those snaps, including a 3-yard touchdown. … The Jaguars broke out the jet sweep against the Browns, giving Lee a pair of carries that went for 5 yards.
Defense (74 total snaps)
S Johnathan Cyprien: 74
S Josh Evans: 74
CB Alan Ball: 74
LB Paul Posluszny: 66
DT Sen'Derrick Marks: 52
DE Chris Clemons: 51
CB Demetrius McCray: 49
LB J.T. Thomas: 42
DE Andre Branch: 42
LB Telvin Smith: 38
CB Will Blackmon: 38
LB Geno Hayes: 36
DT Roy Miller: 30
DE Red Bryant: 27
DT Ziggy Hood: 24
DE Ryan Davis: 23
CB Dwayne Gratz: 23
DE Tyson Alualu: 22
DT Abry Jones: 21
LB Dekoda Watson: 7
Analysis: Watson got on the field on defense for the first time in a month. His playing time likely will increase with Posluszny done for the season (torn pectoral). ... Gratz and McCray continue to split reps at cornerback. … Davis' playing time also will increase with Branch (groin) out for at least six weeks. Davis knocked down one pass and had a tackle for loss against the Browns. ... Thomas had his best day as a pro, recording seven tackles. He had 17 in 15 games with the Jaguars last season. He already has 13 this season.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny knew immediately something bad had happened.
He felt a pop and searing pain on the right side of his chest when he sacked Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer midway through the fourth quarter of the Jaguars’ 24-6 victory over the Browns on Sunday. He stayed down on the turf for a moment, grabbed his chest with his left hand, and then slowly got up and went back into the defensive huddle.
It wasn’t until he came off the field after Hoyer’s incomplete pass on third down one play later that he found out just how badly he was injured. He had torn his right pectoral muscle away from the tendon that attaches it to his shoulder.
"I knew something was wrong [when it happened] but not that wrong, you know what I mean?" Posluszny said Monday afternoon. "You know how it is. We’re winning, we’re up, you want to finish the game."
The injury prevented him from finishing the game and it’s also going to keep him from finishing the season, too. Posluszny is trying to schedule surgery this week and the Jaguars are going to place him on season-ending IR. It’s certainly a blow to a defense that has played its best over the past three weeks but it’s just as disappointing for Posluszny, who had only missed one game in his three-plus seasons since he joined the Jaguars as a free agent in 2011.
"It’s not easy, especially [because] you get the feeling now that we’re just starting to pick things up and the team’s going to roll a little bit and get on a nice winning streak and play some good ball, so you want to be a part of that," he said. "It’s tough to get hurt now and know that I’m not going to play football for a long time."
Posluszny said team physician Kevin Kaplan hasn’t given him a timetable on the rehab process but assured Posluszny that it would not impact his preparation for the 2015 season. Posluszny has two more years remaining on the six-year, $45 million contract he signed in 2011 and is scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2015 and 2016.
Posluszny is in his fourth season with the Jaguars after spending four years with Buffalo. The 2013 Pro Bowler has recorded at least 110 tackles from 2008-2013 and was second in the NFL with 162 tackles in 2013. Not only is he the team’s leading tackler (69) and best defensive player this season, he’s also responsible for making the defensive calls and is one of the team’s leaders.
The Jaguars’ defense has played its best football in the last three weeks, allowing only two touchdowns and 32 points over that span. They’ve forced four of their seven turnovers during that time as well, including three against Cleveland.
That was with Posluszny in the lineup, though.
"That’ll be huge, losing Poz," defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "Poz is the guy that jells our defense together. He’s the leader of our unit, so losing him will be huge. But Poz, he’s a leader. He’ll step in. Any question a guys has to ask, Poz will be there to answer the question and help the guys through the game plan. It’ll be big for him to be in there in the meeting room helping the guys."
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said it’s likely that fourth-year player J.T. Thomas will take over as the middle linebacker. He was cross-trained at outside and inside linebacker during training camp but has played mainly on special teams this season and has just three tackles. Second-year player LaRoy Reynolds, an undrafted rookie in 2013, will move into Thomas’ spot. He started at OTTO in the first three games before getting benched because of poor play and has played mainly on special teams since then.
"The guys are going to do a great job," Posluszny said. "Our D-line’s going to continue to play really, really well. That’s going to set the tone for the entire defense. The linebackers are going to step up and take advantage of the opportunity."
And yet coach Gus Bradley seems pretty confident the Jaguars are going to be fine.
“We’ve got some guys that will step up. That’s what this league’s all about. I think we’ll be OK."
Bradley obviously has to say those things and maintain a positive outlook, but the bottom line is that while Posluszny has his limitations in coverage and went through a stretch earlier this season when he tried to do too much and got out of position, he is the team's most reliable defensive player and the Jaguars don't have enough talent to even come close to replacing his production.
Who are the replacements? Second-year player J.T. Thomas and second-year player LaRoy Reynolds, both of whom have made more of an impact on special teams than on defense, and fifth-year player Dekoda Watson, who was signed to fill the newly created OTTO spot but has been disappointing and has played sparingly on defense.
Bradley said it’s likely that Thomas will take over as the middle linebacker. He was cross-trained at outside and inside linebacker during training camp but has played mainly on special teams this season. He has three tackles.
Thomas started at the OTTO linebacker against Cleveland on Sunday and Bradley said Reynolds, an undrafted rookie in 2013, will move into Thomas’ spot. He started at OTTO in the first three games before getting benched because of poor play and has played mainly on special teams since then.
The Jaguars signed Watson in March to fill the OTTO spot, but he missed all of training camp while recovering from a second groin surgery. He returned to practice late in the preseason but had been unable to overtake Reynolds and played mainly on special teams. When Reynolds was benched, the Jaguars inserted Thomas into the OTTO spot and kept Watson on special teams.
Posluszny is a two-down linebacker that has been forced to play on third down because of a lack of better options and struggles in coverage, but he is the team’s leading tackler (69) and best defensive player. He’s also responsible for making the defensive calls, so he’ll be tough to replace from that perspective.
The fact that the Jaguars are relying on Thomas, Reynolds and Watson underscores the need for a significant upgrade at the linebacker position, which the Jaguars are expected to address in the offseason and the draft. Rookie Telvin Smith has progressed and had his best game in the 24-6 victory over Cleveland on Sunday -- two sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception -- but he’s an undersized outside linebacker and isn’t yet ready to be a starter.
"Any time you have injuries with guys that are playing well it stings you a little bit," Bradley said.
Losing Posluszny’s leadership won’t be easy to overcome, either, and that’s something Thomas, Reynolds and Watson aren’t capable of providing, either.
"Everybody has different leadership style. Poz was not really a vocal-type leader," Bradley said. "He led by his actions and his demeanor and how he took care of himself. So hopefully the lessons he’s taught many of our players, they’ll buy into and continue to own it and they’ll demonstrate it. I think it’ll be a group effort."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars' first victory of 2014 turned out to be a costly one: They lost two defensive starters, including middle linebacker Paul Posluszny for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Defensive end Andre Branch also will miss at least six weeks after tearing a groin muscle, but it's the loss of Posluszny -- who will be placed on IR and is scheduled to have surgery this week -- that really hurts the Jaguars (1-6).
Not only is he the Jaguars' leading tackler (69) and best defensive player, he's also responsible for making the defensive calls and is one of the team's leaders.
"It's tough because he is talented and he is a captain of our team and a leader," coach Gus Bradley said Monday afternoon. "To downplay that part of it wouldn't be fair to him. Important part, but I do believe that we'll have guys step up and move on."
Posluszny is in his fourth season with the Jaguars and eighth overall. The 2013 Pro Bowler has recorded at least 110 tackles every season from 2008 to '13. He was second in the NFL with 162 tackles in 2013.
Branch was a second-round draft pick in 2012 and has 10 sacks in his career, including six in 2013. He has three sacks, two forced fumbles and 13 tackles this season. If he is able to return in six weeks, his first game back would be against the Houston Texans on Dec. 7.
But he had one great drive and that was enough to help the Jaguars snap a nine-game losing streak.
Bortles needed just three plays and a little more than a minute to drive the Jaguars 76 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 27 seconds remaining in the first half. He did it with his legs as much as his arm.
On first down, he escaped pressure and rolled to his left and found Allen Robinson open for a 16-yard gain and a first down.
On the next play, he escaped pressure and ran to his right before an easy toss to a wide-open Clay Harbor, who ran for 20 yards after the catch to put the Jaguars on the Cleveland 36-yard line.
After a defensive offside penalty wiped out an incompletion to Cecil Shorts III, Bortles and Robinson hooked up again. This time Bortles stayed in the pocket and fired a pass to Robinson, who broke free from cornerback Buster Skrine at the 20-yard line and scored his first career touchdown to put the Jaguars ahead 10-6.
"It seems we do that pretty well," Bortles said. "We moved the ball pretty well in the last couple two-minute drills, but I think it was just good getting some points going into the half."
It's obvious Bortles is very comfortable in the two-minute offense. The quick tempo helps him get into a rhythm. It's almost backyard football and it allows Bortles to just go out and play more freely. The stats show it: Bortles was 3-for-3 for 71 yards on that drive and 14-for-28 for 88 yards in the rest of the game.
That two-minute drive gave the Jaguars some much-needed confidence, which was something the team hadn't experienced since the first half of the season opener. They went into halftime with a lead for the first time since that game, and this time held onto it.
"That was great for us without a doubt to go into halftime like that," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "I just saw the look on the sideline. I don't think you have seen the team deflate if that didn't happen, but it sure helped."
More thoughts on the day after ...
It was certainly a breakout game for rookie linebacker Telvin Smith: one sack, a forced fumble, an interception, and another pass breakup to go along with four tackles. He said only one thing would have made it better: Scoring on his interception, which he returned 15 yards to the Cleveland 7. He was really bummed that he was brought down by Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who punched the ball out of his hands as he was being tackled out of bounds. "I should have hit him with a move," Smith joked.
Sunday was the first time offensive tackle Luke Joeckel has experienced a victory in nearly two years. Joeckel was placed on injured reserve after breaking his ankle in a Week 5 loss to St. Louis as a rookie in 2013, so he didn't participate in the Jaguars' four victories in the second half of the season. The last time he played in a victory before Sunday was Jan. 4, 2013, when his Texas A&M team beat Oklahoma 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl -- a span of more than 21 months. "I wasn't playing when we won those games so to get your first NFL win, it's a whole lot better," Joeckel said. "You don't realize it until it happens."
The Jaguars' 185 yards rushing and 35 rushing attempts is the most in the Bradley era. The previous highs came against Buffalo on Dec. 15, 2013 when the Jaguars ran for 159 yards on 31 carries. Denard Robinson's 127 yards was the most by a single player under Bradley and the most by a Jaguars player since Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 169 yards against Indianapolis in the final regular-season game of the 2011 season.
Florida Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette writes that the Jaguars were finally able to cut loose, celebrate, and revel in the team's first victory.
NFL.com's Marc Sessler gives you seven things to know about the Jaguars' 24-6 victory against Cleveland, including video highlights.
SI.com's Chris Burke writes that the Jaguars' insistence that they were close to being competitive despite starting 0-6 turned out to be correct.
WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper talk about the Jaguars' victory, which they call the biggest in three years.
The T-U's Hays Carlyon writes that rookie linebacker Telvin Smith's breakout game was the highlight of a standout defensive performance.
Blake Bortles had his worst performance of the season, but coach Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch liked the way he bounced back after each interception, writes the T-U's Ryan O'Halloran.
For the first time this season the T-U's Monday Morning Quarterback was full of praise and optimism.