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Early crossroads game


The Jaguars know better than to allow themselves to be fooled by the Titans' 0-3 record. They know the Titans aren't an 0-3 team.

"They could be 3-0," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said to reporters as the Jaguars began preparations for Sunday's game against the visitors from Nashville.

At 1-2, the point could be made the Jaguars are facing an early-season crossroads game. With a win, they could look at the schedule and consider the possibility of making this a season that might exceed expectations. With a loss, the following week's trek across the country to Seattle will only get longer.

"They've just had a few plays in the back end that have made the difference. If it wasn't for those, they'd be undefeated right now," quarterback David Garrard said. "They're going to come out with a little more fight, of course. We have to be ready to strike when they do make a mistake on the back end. Hopefully, we can exploit those things and get a win."

What's wrong with the Titans? It's a question that's being asked around the league. Last year's AFC South champions are still an impressive force at the line of scrimmage, but they don't have a win to show for it.

Chris Johnson is the NFL's second-leading rusher with 351 yards and coach Jeff Fisher's teams traditionally win when they rush the ball successfully, so why aren't they winning now? Has the game changed that much?

The Titans are 0-3 primarily because of a bulky secondary that is 29th in the league in pass-defense. The Jaguars know they'll have to find the holes in that secondary to have any chance of winning because there aren't a lot of holes in a defensive line that is number two in the league against the run and 10th in sacks per pass play.

"We could be 0-3 or 2-1. We know who Tennessee is. They're pretty close to what they've always been, a tough, physical team that runs the ball," linebacker Clint Ingram said. "The game plan looks good; it's tight," he added of the Jaguars' strategy.

The Jaguars have the AFC offensive player of the week in running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who's coming off a sensational performance in the team's win over Houston. Tennessee, even though they were upset by the Texans, is not Houston. The Titans are all about run the ball and stop the run.

Can the Jaguars still play that style of game against one of the league's best at it? That may be the definitive question facing the Jaguars in this game.

"We're still 1-2. We don't want to drop down to 1-3. It's gonna be a tough day for us. There's a challenge there. They're going to do a lot of loading the box. It's going to be tough for us," Jones-Drew said of confronting the Titans' defensive front.

The Jaguars unveiled an option wrinkle to their running game last Sunday. One such play resulted in a 30-yard run by Garrard. Rookie wide receiver Mike Thomas was also successful on end-around plays.

"We're going to do whatever we can to get guys in space. That's what the league is about," Jones-Drew said.

This game is about survival for the Titans. This is desperation time for a team that was a preseason playoff favorite. Three weeks into the season, the Titans' season would seem to hang in the balance this Sunday.

"We're gonna get their best shot and they're gonna get ours," Ingram said.

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