Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook; Special Teams Errors a Concern

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook; Special Teams Errors a Concern

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

Punts that were tipped and blocked against Cincinnati.

A fumbled punt against Dallas.

And blocked field goals by Philadelphia, Tennessee and Miami.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley called those special teams gaffes "unfortunate things."

What they can also be called are "game-changing things."

Flawed teams like the Jaguars can't afford unforced errors and if there is any hope for respectable results over the final six games, their special teams need to be better.

In 10 statistical special teams categories, the Jaguars' average ranking of 19.4 is 25th in the NFL.

Cincinnati (8.5), Atlanta (11.2) and Baltimore (11.9) are the top three and Chicago (21.1), Seattle (22.0) and Denver (23.0) are the bottom three.

The Jaguars are among the top 10 in just one category (10th in kickoff returns).

Last year, the Jaguars' average ranking was 10.3, including top-10 finishes in kick returns, field goal percentage, punt coverage and kickoff coverage.

A built-in excuse is the amount of turnover on the Jaguars' four main special teams units (two coverage and return teams apiece) and the lack of "core four" players.

"Ideally, we would have seven or eight," Bradley said.

Right now, the Jaguars have two.

In the season opener at Philadelphia, the Jaguars had six players who were on the main four units: Denard Robinson, Dekoda Watson, Demetrius McCray, Chris Prosinski, Ryan Davis and J.T. Thomas.

Against Dallas two weeks ago, the Jaguars had only LaRoy Reynolds, Jordan Todman and the recently cut Peyton Thompson.

Robinson, McCray and Thomas have seen their special teams work curtailed since they've become starters and Prosinski and Watson are no longer on the team.

The turnover from Week 1 to Week 10 is significant: Five new players apiece on kickoff coverage and return, four on punt coverage and eight on punt return.

"That's just the way it is when you have a young team," kicker Josh Scobee said. "The bottom third of the roster will have a lot of turnover, especially with the record [1-9] we have. We see new guys on special teams every week and that's the challenge - to get them up to speed as fast as possible. …

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