Jaguars' coverage busts against Colts were 'total brain farts'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson gave two troubling possible explanations for the team's inexcusable defensive lapses in coverage in the first half of Sunday's 29-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Players are disregarding the playcall and doing their own thing or they just flat out don't know what they're supposed to do.

Either way, it's a problem, because it's a sign there are serious issues on a defense that was supposed to be one of the NFL's best but instead has become one of the league's most disappointing units over the past five games.

"To be honest, it has to be just total brain farts," Gipson said of blown coverages that allowed Andrew Luck to throw three touchdown passes to tight ends in the first half. "You're looking at guys running wild in coverages that we've been playing here for the first four years. Even back in 2016, we weren't a great football team, but it wasn't this many consecutive busts week in and week out. The busts came up in the Dallas game, and they've just been a reoccurring theme since then.

"What to do about it? I don't know, man. It's hard to blame coaching for busts; but at the same time, everybody got to be accountable in this thing right here for sure."

The Jaguars (3-6) don't have a complex defense. They're either in thirds (three deep zones), quarters (four deep zones) or man coverage, and six of the 11 starters are in their third season playing under coordinator Todd Wash. Three others are in their second season under Wash.

There should be little or no confusion about responsibilities in any of the coverages. Nor should there be any communication issues about which coverages the Jaguars are playing. Yet, Gipson said, that's what happened against the Colts -- particularly when it came to covering the Colts' three tight ends.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was playing man coverage instead of three-deep zone coverage, which allowed Eric Ebron to get wide open for a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Safety Barry Church was in man coverage and responsible for Ebron, but Church froze at the hash marks, and Luck hit Ebron for an easy 12-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Ramsey also had tight end Mo Alie-Cox in man coverage on the 1-yard line but charged into the line of scrimmage instead of sticking with Alie-Cox, which allowed Luck to loft a pass to Alie-Cox in the back of the end zone for the touchdown with 1:46 remaining in the first half. That touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion gave the Colts a 29-13 lead.

"Jalen's obviously a good football player and he'll have some really good plays, and sometimes he'll have some bad plays," Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone said. "He's only in his third year. I think it all depends on how you take it, and I'm expecting Jalen to take it the right way, build on it and come back and get ready to play this week. That's the only thing you can do. If you don't see those things, then obviously that's a problem."

Ramsey -- who earlier on Monday posted, "When I'm gone from here, y'all gone miss me. I ain't even trippin lol" on his Twitter and Instagram accounts -- declined an interview request in the locker room.

There were other coverage busts Sunday, but those three against the tight ends were the most costly. It's out of character for a defense that, despite giving up 285 yards passing on Sunday, still leads the NFL in pass defense. However, the Jaguars have allowed 24 offensive plays of 20 or more yards in the past five games -- three times as many as they allowed in their first four games.

"I guess that's the most mind-blowing, head-scratching thing," Gipson said. "It's not like teams are going out there just deliberately beating you. You can take that; that's more acceptable. Those guys get paid too. But blown coverages is just unacceptable.

"We're not talking about if you're talking about a secondary who claims they're the best. We're talking about just any professional team. You just can't just have guys blowing wide open like that, man."