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Ten Things: Jaguars-49ers

Posted Oct 25, 2013

Ten things the Jacksonville Jaguars must do to beat the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium in London, England Sunday...

 JACKSONVILLE – Here are 10 things the Jacksonville Jaguars must do to beat the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium in London, England, Sunday . . .

1. Protect the quarterback. This was a problem early in the season, and not as much of an issue for a few weeks after that. It returned in a big way last week, with the Jaguars allowing six sacks against San Diego, it and will be an issue against the 49ers. Chad Henne is starting at quarterback and like any quarterback, he must be protected. The 49ers’ pass rush has been weakened by the loss of Aldon Smith. Ray McDonald has 1.5 sacks and Justin Smith has 2.5, with the 49ers as a team registering just 12.5 other than Smith.

2. Forget the surroundings. The site is Wembley Stadium, and to listen to and read the comments of players who have played there, it’s an impressive place to play. That’s fine. Come out in pregame. Take a look around. Soak it in. Enjoy the moment. Then focus on the task at hand.

3. Forget the week. There’s a whole lot of forgetting that needs to get done this week – and not just last week’s loss to the San Diego Chargers. This is an unusual week. The week in London featured events for players, new surroundings – and really, distractions all around. That’s all fine for game week, but once Sunday comes around, it’s Game Time. Forget the events of the week and go play.

4. Get better quarterback play. This is a must and would have been true no matter who played quarterback. Henne, who started the past two games, will start Sunday, and it appears it is now his job to keep if he plays well. Henne in the last two games has played better than Blaine Gabbert did previously, but either way, the Jaguars are 0-7. You don’t get there if you have quarterbacks playing at a high level.

5. Stop Frank Gore . . . The Jaguars have struggled to stop the run this season. If you struggle against 49ers running back Frank Gore, he runs all day and grinds you down. He has at least 70 yards in each of the last five games, and San Francisco relies on the running game to establish the offense. Do what’s needed to get him stopped. If you don’t, then there’s little reason to look on to No . 6 . .  .

6. . . . Stop Colin Kaepernick. Gore and Kaepernick are the core of what makes the 49ers a dangerous, consistent offensive team. Gore is tough to stop and you must focus there because the 49ers will keep running until you stop. When you do, Kaepernick is dangerous enough running – and more-than-dangerous enough passing – that it’s difficult to know your priorities defensively. Kaepernick hasn’t been as effective this season as he was late last season. That makes sense with teams having an offseason to study the read option. You have to account for his ability to run with linebackers and a single-high safety. That makes Johnathan Cyprien important for the Jaguars this week. The hope with Kaepernick is to make him throw and hope for an inaccurate day, but that’s far from a guarantee.

7. Make the catch. The Jaguars had chances at big plays Sunday against the Chargers. Twice, Cecil Shorts III let catchable, potential touchdown passes get through his hands. He refused to use injury an excuse, but it was obvious after the game that Shorts was playing through pain from the SC joint he sprained the previous week. Either way, he said the catches that got away have to stop getting away.

8. Force turnovers. This is a tough task for the Jaguars’ defense and has been tough all season. The reason is it’s tough to force turnovers without a strong pass rush. The Jaguars’ has been anything but that this season and was anything but that on Sunday. Still, even with the line struggling to create pressure, there have been opportunities. When a team such as the Jaguars gets opportunities, it needs to take advantage of them. So far, the Jaguars haven’t done that enough.

9. Feed Justin Blackmon. Blackmon played through a groin/hamstring injury last week and faced double teams and shaded coverages throughout. He’ll be facing that more as time goes on and he’s capable of beating it. Learning how to do it may take time, but if he’s on the field, you need to look his way. Henne historically has done that. That’s a good thing.

10. Play with spirit. OK, this is a Bradleyism, but within the context of this week, it’s needed. Bradley said after the Chargers loss the team lacked effort. He said later he meant “spirit” as much as anything. Whatever it was, the Jaguars need to show more of than they did against San Diego. To win, this team needs maximum energy and effort or whatever you term it. There will be a packed stadium Sunday. Showing spirit shouldn’t be an issue.

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