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Mularkey wants Jaguars to start making 'lay-ups'

Mularkey wants Jaguars to start making 'lay-ups'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars are tired of ``missing lay-ups.''

Dropping nine passes. Giving up a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown. Fumbling in the red zone.

They are all simple plays - lay-ups, as coach Mike Mularkey calls them - that the Jaguars (1-6) need to make to help them turn things around.

``The things that are not allowing us to win these games when we have chances, it's got to stop,'' Mularkey said Monday. ``We've got to find a way to make it stop.''

It didn't against Green Bay, resulting in a 24-15 loss. But the Jaguars feel like they're making progress.

Blaine Gabbert had a career day, throwing for 303 yards and a touchdown. Cecil Shorts III caught eight passes for a career-high 116 yards. And Jacksonville's defense played its best game of the season, holding the Packers to 238 yards and two offensive touchdowns.

Maybe, just maybe, being without star running back Maurice Jones-Drew could be a positive. It certainly forced the Jaguars to rely on others.

``If we continue to progress in certain things that we're doing, that we know we're capable of doing, I think wins will come with it,'' Mularkey said.

Mularkey was the first to point to all that went wrong against the Packers: Rashad Jennings' fumble in the red zone; the dropped passes; the blocked punt; the three three-and-outs in the third quarter; the three failed passes to rookie Justin Blackmon with the game on the line; and the pass interference call on William Middleton late.

But the coach also can't overlook the other side, especially when he's leading a team that has dropped 11 of its last 14 games.

``I know we didn't win the game,'' he said. ``We don't like what's happening, but you've got to look at some of the positive things. We have done some good things. We've got to overcome these plays that we continually make every week.''

Few outsiders gave Jacksonville much of a chance with Jones-Drew sidelined indefinitely - he also will miss Sunday's game against Detroit - with a sprained left foot.

But it seemingly forced the Jaguars to open things up offensively.

And Gabbert looked sharp, completing 27 of 49 passes despite an injured non-throwing shoulder.

``We're on a good course going with Blaine,'' Mularkey said. ``There's still things that Blaine's got to do better and Blaine knows it. I like the improvement that he's made. He wants to do better. He's very adamant about trying to be the best he can be, and I like that about him.''

Gabbert's numbers would have been even better had the Jaguars not dropped so many balls.

``Lay-ups, not 3-pointers that we're missing, just lay-ups,'' Mularkey said. ``Nine drops. Those are lay-ups. Those are things we've got to be able to put the ball in the basket if we want to use the basketball as correlation to what we're doing here. There are lay-ups we're missing.''

Blackmon's effort, not his hands, was questioned Sunday.

Broadcasters speculated that the rookie didn't run full speed on every route.

``I don't pay any attention to it,'' Blackmon said. ``It doesn't bother me. I was out there playing. I mean, I'm not going to go out there and play 50 percent.''

Mularkey got wind of the criticism and re-watched that part of the game specifically to see what the talk was about.

``I don't see evidence of that,'' Mularkey said. ``I was looking for it because that's not acceptable. I don't like to hear it from anybody. I certainly don't want to hear it from the weather man during his hurricane report.''

There was less talk about Jacksonville's defense, which played well despite missing starting cornerbacks Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis and safety Dwight Lowery. The Jaguars sacked Aaron Rodgers twice and held the Packers to a season low in yards.

Special teams, though, was a disappointment for Jacksonville.

Bryan Anger had a punt blocked even though Green Bay had just 10 defenders on the field. Josh Scobee had a kickoff go out of bounds. Return man Micheal Spurlock muffed one punt and called for a fair catch inside the 10-yard line.

``I told them, `It's all there. We've got to find a way. You've guys see it yourself and you're as tired as me saying it to you as I am telling you. At some point, you've got to get over that,''' Mularkey said. ``We keep missing the lay-ups or kicking it out of bounds by this much or the drops.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Additions: Pernell McPhee (free agent)
Departures: Junior Galette (free agent)

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Other roster locks: Ryan Anderson, McPhee
On the bubble: Pete Robertson

How the outside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: By any measure, the Redskins had a top-10 pass rush last year. They were tied for seventh with 42 sacks and they got a sack on 7.3 percent of pass attempts, also seventh in the league. Looking forward to this year, Pro Football Focus has them ranked as the sixth-best pass rushing team for 2018. Ryan Kerrigan is showing no signs of slowing down as he approaches age 30 and Preston Smith is about to hit his prime. After the departure of Galette, the depth is questionable, and we’ll deal with that next. Even without Galette, it’s still one of the best units in the NFL. 

To the 2017 Redskins: Some downplay the decision to let Galette walk in free agency, saying he had just three sacks. But his value went beyond that. He had 9 QB hits and 25 hurries, both second-most on the team, in just 258 pass rush snaps. Someone will have to step up and replace that pressure. The spotlight will be on Anderson, who had no sacks after being a second-round pick. He will need to step up for this year’s Redskins pass rush to be as good as last year’s. 

2018 outside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: Since the 2015 season, only one NFL player has at least 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions and it’s Preston Smith. His consistency is an issue but even when he is going for a few weeks between sacks he is getting pressure on the quarterback. Still, there is more ability there. Smith could set himself up for a big payday by breaking through with a double-digit sack season while continuing to make big plays in his contract year.

Most to prove: To be fair, Anderson did not get a whole lot of chances to rush the passer last year, playing just 81 pass rush snaps. Still, there are reasons to be concerned about how much he can produce after a zero-sack, one-hit, three-hurries 2017 debut season. Anderson was not expected to make a splash as a rookie, but more was anticipated. He was drafted where he was in part because of his work ethic. The Redskins hope he will work his way into a significant second-year leap. 

Rookie watch: There are no rookie outside linebackers on the roster. 

Bottom line: The main concern about the Redskins’ defense this year revolves around the cornerback spot following the departures of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland. The best way to manage problematic cornerbacks is by getting a strong pass rush. The Redskins need to Smith to have a true breakout season and for Anderson or McPhee to be a strong contributor off the bench. Along with the improved defensive line, the pass rush could transform the defensive line into a quality unit in 2018. 

2018 Redskins Position Outlook Series