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Thursday’s notebook: Lions vs Jaguars

Posted Nov 1, 2012

Playing their first home game in a month, the Jaguars are looking to snap a four-game losing streak and claim their first home win of the season.

Home sweet home

The Jaguars open November with a stretch of two games in five days at EverBank Field when they host the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Following Sunday’s game, the Jaguars host division foe Indianapolis on Thursday, November 8 on NFL Network.  Playing their first home game in a month, the Jaguars are looking to snap a four-game losing streak and claim their first home win of the season.

Improved defense

The Jaguars defense led by assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has shown dramatic signs of improvement the last two weeks.  Following the bye week, the Jaguars traveled to Oakland with a unit that was allowing 424.0 yards per game including 163.0 yards on the ground in the first five games. 

In the last two games, the defense has yielded 294.5 yards and 67.5 rushing yards.  Opponents have produced the two lowest totals of the season for net yards the last two games (Oakland, 351; Green Bay, 238) and neither team eclipsed 70 rushing yards.  The Jaguars allowed at least 100 rushing yards in each of the first five games.

The Jaguars held the Packers to their lowest offensive output of the season and fewest yards since Oct. 31, 2010 against the New York Jets.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers entered last Sunday’s game averaging 282.7 yards per game through the air and was held to a season-low 186 and fewest since the 2010 season.

Limiting the ‘big play’ has played a key role in the unit’s success.  The Jaguars are tied for fifth in the NFL with only 22 plays of 20-plus yards by their opponents and 18 completions of 20-plus yards. 

Making the connection

Blaine Gabbert has 13 completions of 20-plus yards through seven games and nine have come on the road.   Three of the 13 have gone for touchdowns. He had four completions of 20-plus yards against the Packers including two for 30-plus yards.

The Jaguars have already surpassed their 2011 total for completions of 30-plus yards with seven as they finished with only six a year ago. The Jaguars finished the 2011 season with only 10 total plays of 30-plus yards and already have eight through seven games this season. 

Making a name for himself

Cecil Shorts leads the Jaguars in every receiving statistical category through seven games with 20 receptions for 400 yards (20.0 avg.) and three touchdowns.  His 20.0 average per catch is the third-highest in the NFL. Of his 20 receptions, seven are from 20-plus yards.

All three of Shorts’ touchdown receptions are from 20-plus yards which ranks as the second-most in the NFL.   He has eclipsed 70 receiving yards in four of seven games and has 12 receptions for 195 yards (16.2 avg.) in the last two games. Only two players had 400-plus receiving yards in 2011 with Marcedes Lewis (460) and Mike Thomas (415).   

Series history

The Jaguars lead the overall series with the Lions, 3-1, including a 2-0 mark at home.  The teams last met on Nov. 9, 2008 at Detroit with the Jaguars winning 38-14.   Only eight players remain on the Jaguars roster who played in the 2008 game.

Scobee continues successful run

Kicker Josh Scobee enters Sunday’s game with a streak of 20 consecutive field goals made dating back to 2011, tied with Mike Hollis for the longest streak in team history.   Scobee has connected on all 14 field goal attempts through seven games including six from 40-plus yards.  He joins Cleveland’s Phil Dawson (12 of 12) as the only kickers to convert every field goal in 2012 (minimum 10 attempts).

Finishing the game

Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey has preached to his team the importance of finishing the game.  The Jaguars have trailed by seven or fewer points entering the fourth quarter in three of their six losses and were ahead by seven points at Oakland on Oct. 21 heading into the final period before losing in overtime.  The Jaguars have been outscored 73-26 in the fourth quarter.

Inside the numbers

  • Rookie Mike Brewster has moved into the lineup at left guard.  He is the sixth different guard to start beside left tackle Eugene Monroe since Monroe entered the NFL as a first-round pick of the Jaguars in 2009.  Will Rackley, Eben Britton, Justin Smiley, Vince Manuwai and Herb Taylor have also started at left guard alongside Monroe.
  • The Jaguars have been even or won the turnover differential in five of seven games.
  • All nine of the Jaguars’ touchdowns have been scored on first (6) or second down (3).
  • Six of the club’s seven sacks have come in road games and all seven sacks have been registered by defensive linemen.
  • Five of Blaine Gabbert’s seven touchdowns in 2012 have come on first down.  All three of his interceptions are on first down plays.  On second down, he is 36 of 60 passing for 404 yards with 2 touchdowns/0 interceptions for a 91.3 rating.
  • Gabbert has recorded a 112.2 passer rating (11-24-186) in the last two minutes of the half/game this season with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
  • Rashad Jennings has 13 receptions for 114 yards in the last two games. 
  • Center Brad Meester and left tackle Eugene Monroe are the only offensive players to play every snap through seven games.
  • Derek Cox has three interceptions in the last four games against NFC opponents (2, 10/31/10 at Dallas; 1, 12/26/10 vs. Washington).
  • Rashean Mathis recorded an interception in each of his two career games against Detroit (11/14/04 vs. Detroit and 11/9/08 at Detroit).
  • Greg Jones scored the first touchdown of his career as a rookie on Nov. 14, 2004 against Detroit.                                                                                                          

Did you know?

The Jaguars have had a different starting lineup on offense in all seven games and have started the same defense in back-to-back games only once.

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