As Terrence Knighton sees it, the opportunity is as clear as it is obvious.
The New York Jets have in the past two seasons developed a reputation for playing big-time, championship defense, and deservedly so. That's a reputation the Jaguars want, one they feel they are on their way to earning.
So, while winning by whatever style and margin necessary is far and away the No. 1 priority for the Jaguars Sunday, Knighton said taking advantage of the secondary opportunity would be pretty cool, too.
Why not show the world – or at least the New York media market – the Jaguars can play defense?
And why not do it now?
"This is definitely a chance to set a stage for our defense," Knighton said as the Jaguars (1-0) prepared to play the Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday at 1 p.m.
"This is a chance to prove we're making progress, really."
It's also a chance for the Jaguars to not only improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2006, but win their first road game of the season for the first time since 2007.
And while the Jets are heavy favorites, having made the AFC Championship game each of the past two seasons, the Jaguars have won six of eight all-time regular-season meetings between the teams, including the last three.
The Jaguars won the last meeting, played in 2009, a game in which the Jaguars surprised a Jets team that eventually got hot at the end of the season and won two road postseason games en route to the AFC Championship game.
To repeat the performance this weekend, the Jaguars will have to deal with early-season injuries. Defensive end Aaron Kampman and cornerback Derek Cox have been ruled out, and wide receiver Jason Hill didn't practice until Friday this week, as was the case with Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Lewis and Hill are considered doubtful Sunday.
Matt Roth and Jeremy Mincey likely will start for a second consecutive week at defensive end, while third-year veteran Will Middleton is expected to move into Cox's position at cornerback opposite Rashean Mathis. Hill, who caught four passes for 53 yards last week, likely would be replaced in the lineup by rookie Cecil Shorts, with third-year veteran Jarett Dillard and rookie free agent Jamar Newsome also playing a role.
Zach Miller likely will start in place of Lewis.
As was the case a week ago against Tennessee, the Jaguars expect a match-up of physical teams that emphasize the running game and defense.
The Jets finished last season third in the NFL in defense, and are 23rd this season, while the Jaguars – after finishing 28th defensively last season – are ranked eighth in the league, No. 2 against the run.
The Jaguars last week ran nearly twice as often (47-24) as they threw. Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said that means the Jets likely will stack the line against the run, hoping to force third-and-long so they can use their defensive strength – a variety of exotic blitzes and two of the league's best cornerbacks, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
"They bring so many different blitzes," Jones-Drew said. "There was one that we just saw a blitz the other day, I think they brought five guys off of one side and there was three on the other and they just dropped them all back. There is a lot of crazy stuff they do, but they get pressure on the quarterback. That's one thing, we can't let them get to (quarterback) Luke [McCown] and we have to catch the ball when it's thrown to us."
The game will be the second as the Jaguars' starter for McCown, who last week completed 17 of 24 passes for 175 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. And while a topic this week has been whether or not the Jaguars will allow him to throw more, McCown said it's a non-issue.
"It's no secret what we're about; we want to run the football," McCown said. "That's going to open up things for us downfield, but the key to our game is doing what we do. Our coaches do a great job of scheming things up for us, getting us prepared for the game, but we've got to go out and execute. That's what it comes down to for the Jaguars."
It's no secret, either, that this is a big game for the Jaguars, a chance not only for their best start in a half decade and to beat a team – and a defense – many expect to be one of the league's best, but to continue the early season improvement that has them feeling optimistic whatever the observers may believe.
"I look at it as an opportunity every single day – one day at a time, one game at a time," Jaguars linebacker Clint Session said. "That's our mindset. We have our minds set on being a great defense. We feel good about that. We all have high expectations on playing good football and winning a lot of games.
"We control what we can control – that's us putting out our best work on the field. We'll let the statisticians add it up at the end and see who's the best