So, here we are. We have reached the point of the schedule we all dreaded when we first laid eyes on it last spring: Three in a row on the road.
Here's the way I see it.
• Win all three and the playoffs will be a virtual lock.
• Should the Jaguars win two of the next three games, provided one of those wins is in Tennessee, they'll still make the playoffs.
• Win two and lose in Tennessee and the Jaguars might need help.
• Should the Jaguars win only one of the next three but that win is in Tennessee, they'd still be in solid playoff contention.
• Win only one and lose in Tennessee and the Jaguars' backs will be to the wall.
• Lose all three and sound taps.
In Tampa on Sunday, the Jaguars will be facing a banged up Bucs team that doesn't knock you out with its league rankings, but a closer look reveals a resourceful team that has a big hitter in its secondary, a quarterback who oozes leadership and courage, and a coach who knows how to pencil-whip you.
The ball is in Quinn Gray's hands. He will be in his first-ever pro start and it's in a pressure-packed situation. This one has real intrigue.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Bucs.
- Be the best you can be—That goes for every member of this team. For the Jaguars to win, they need to overcome the loss of their offensive leader, David Garrard, and it'll take a team effort to do that.
- Use the Philadelphia formula—Garrard was in his first start of last season when the Jaguars won in Philadelphia with a no-frills game plan that put a premium on blocking and tackling.
- Protect the quarterback—They don't grow on trees.
- Find new resolve—The Colts game is here and gone. Move on.
- Rush the quarterback—Because covering the receivers wasn't the answer this past Monday night.
- Run early, run late—Run all the time.
- Get Taylor his yards—Fred needs 135 to reach 10,000. This thing has lingered too long. Now is a perfect time to get it done.
- Press the issue—Jeff Garcia loves to throw short. Don't let him dink it and dunk it all the way down the field.
- Beware Joey Galloway—The guy can still run. He's the one you have to fear. He's their only true weapon.
- Be the first—To intercept Garcia.