JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has twice said he doesn't regret taking a field goal off the board after a penalty and going for a touchdown early in the third quarter against St. Louis this past Sunday.
The Jaguars, down 14 points before Josh Scobee kicked the field goal, desperately needed momentum. So when Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins was penalized for lining up offside, Bradley opted to send the offense back on the field for a fourth-and-goal play from the 2-yard line.
The Jaguars got two chances for the touchdown. There were offsetting pass-interference penalties on the first play and then Blaine Gabbert threw a pass in the back of the end zone that was intercepted by linebacker James Laurinaitis.
The result may not have been good, but the decision was, according to Grantland's Bill Barnwell. In his weekly "Thank You for Not Coaching" feature, Barnwell supported Bradley's decision. Here's what he wrote:
Should the Jaguars have taken points off the board? Of course! They're already down 14 points in the third quarter; they need all the points they can get, and your expectation from the 2-yard line is almost always going to be greater than it is by kicking the field goal, even with a bad offense. The Advanced NFL Stats calculator suggests that it's right to go if you can succeed 32 percent of the time, and even the worst team in the league will convert more frequently than that. The Jaguars retained excellent field position even with a miss, and given how bad their offense is in terms of consistently making progress and avoiding turnovers or disaster plays, they have to take advantage of goal-to-go situations as frequently as possible. I wouldn't disagree if you suggested that the Jags should have rolled Gabbert out, run a quarterback draw, or handed the ball to MJD as opposed to throwing the ball in the pocket, but going for it after the penalty was clearly the right call.
My take: It was a good move by Bradley because it also sent a message to the offense, and Gabbert in particular, that he trusted and believed in them. He may be more hesitant to do that in the future because his reward was two pretty bad passes by Gabbert.