JACKSONVILLE – Here are 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2013 regular-season opener at EverBank Field Sunday . . .
1. Protect the quarterback. The offensive line is supposed to be better. That’s why
3. Rush the passer. This is area of concern coming out of the preseason. It may come from blitzing. It may come from effort. It may come from stunts up front. Whatever. Doesn’t matter how. Doesn’t matter who. Doesn’t matter where the rushers come from. You just have to get there. It has been too long since the Jaguars did that well.
5. Be quick. There’s not much danger of the Jaguars not being this. They’re significantly quicker and faster than a year ago simply because of the presence of
6. “Do your job.” Well, we had to say it – this once.
7. Win the “surprise” game. The opening game of the season is always the toughest to project. More upsets happens, and more weirdness goes along with it, in Week 1 than in any other week. The reason is that teams have no real game film with which to study their opponent. That means crafty, creative game-planning – and the accompanying surprises – typically has a bigger influence in Week 1 than any other week of the season. There will be tricks and there will be unforeseen plays. Win that matchup.
8. Stop Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs’ running back was a Pro Bowl selection last season, and outside of Chris Johnson of Tennessee, there may not be a better breakaway back in the NFL. He had three touchdown rushes of more than 80 yards last season. The Jaguars’ front-line defense for the most part stopped the run well in the preseason. They’ll need to do it every play Sunday, because Charles can turn a mistake into points.
9. Bother Alex Smith. The Chiefs’ quarterback has been one of the best in the NFL in recent seasons not making mistakes. He is a smart player who plays within the scheme, and usually doesn’t get his teams beat. That’s how he helped the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game in 2011. But this is a new team and a different offense, and Smith doesn’t have the experience in this scheme – or the same dominant, control-the-clock offense around him – as he did in San Francisco. There’s no reason to think Smith won’t eventually be good in Kansas City. Head Coach Andy Reid thinks he will be very good. But the first game for a player in a new situation is weird. Pressure Smith and make weird things happen.
10. Feed off the crowd. There’s energy in this fan base, and though most fans grasp that there will be tough times in this rebuild, this is the first official, real-live, regular-season game of the Gus Bradley era. The crowd will be up. These fans are ready. Feed off of that feeling.