JACKSONVILLE – Todd Wash understands the challenge.
The Jaguars' defensive coordinator also believes his players and system are good and proven, which he said means change won't be necessary Sunday.
"We're going to run our system," Wash said Thursday as the AFC South Champion Jaguars (12-6) prepared to play the AFC East Champion New England Patriots (14-3) in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
Which means don't look for cornerback Jalen Ramsey to be matched up on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski Sunday.
Gronkowski's status as the best tight end in the NFL and a key to the Patriots' offense has caused many to speculate this week that Ramsey – an All-Pro cornerback and perhaps the Jaguars' best defensive player – could cover Gronkowski.
"In a basketball game, I think we would," Wash said. "But Jalen is a corner. … I think the last thing you can do is to go into a game like this and you try and reinvent the wheel. We got to where we are at as a team – not just a defense, but as a team – doing what we do.
"We run the football, we create takeaways and we play sound defense and special teams. We're not going to change that. Jalen is a good corner and he plays against wide receivers."
Wash called the issue of stopping Gronkowski a question "I don't think that anyone has answered."
"We have a lot of different players and we're fortunate that we're talented," Wash said. "We have to get the right guy on him in man situations and obviously know where he is at in zone coverage. Nobody around the league has stopped him so we have to have a plan.
"We feel very confident with our plan and we have to go in there and execute it."
Notes and observations from Coordinator Thursday:
*Jaguars offensive coordinator Nate Hackett on whether he believes rookie running back Leonard Fournette's ankle will bother him Sunday: "No: Championship Sunday. Let's go, let's go." Fournette, hampered by an ankle injury much of the second half of the season, rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-42 Divisional Playoff victory over Pittsburgh last Sunday. …
*Hackett addressed both sides of what could be key matchup Sunday – the Patriots' red-zone defense versus the Jaguars' red-zone offense. Hackett called the Patriots' red-zone defense "a well-oiled machine. They all know exactly what they're trying to accomplish, they all know where their help is, they all know and work as one unit. They're a bend-don't-break team. They're an efficient football team that no matter what, they're going to stay together, they're not going to panic, they're not going to get too excited or too low, and I think that just shows how they play and that's why they've always been a consistent defense all the way down. And they're not going to let you score points, and that's the goal and that's the goal of the game. Stats don't matter, it's about wins and losses and who's got the most points at the end. I think they're the epitome of that on defense."
*The Jaguars' offense through 18 games is ranked first in the NFL with 40 touchdowns in 56 red-zone possessions, with quarterback Blake Bortles throwing 20 touchdown passes with no interceptions in the red zone this season. "It comes back to our offense as a whole; I think we've been very efficient," Hackett said. "He [Bortles] has done a great job studying the game plans, understanding what we want to get done, and he's executed to perfection. … The more the quarterback understands and the more that he's an extension of the play, of the coaches, that's when things start working out well. He's been unbelievable down there, and the whole group has." …
*Wash called the key to defending Patriots quarterback Tom Brady "[taking] away the big plays and [making] them earn every yard that we can. We have to execute and play great fundamentals to give ourselves a chance. ….Their offensive line does a really nice job of protecting him and he hasn't been sacked a lot. The ball comes out extremely quick so we'll have to get as much push as we can and hopefully get some tips to get the ball in the air so we can go get it." …
*Wash on the Jaguars' eight defensive touchdowns this season: "We have good players so they make plays on the ball. That's a lot of it. When they're in position for an opportunity to catch the ball they call the ball. … We very seldom talk about sacks; we talk about sack-fumbles because that's the most important thing is that we get the ball back for our offense. The best defense in the NFL is the one that is sitting on the sideline. If we can get the ball back for our offense and go over there and sit down then that's a good thing for the Jaguars." …