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Focused on the Jets


The tone of Jack Del Rio's voice made it clear the Jaguars will not look past this Sunday's game against the New York Jets. At 2-2 and facing a crossroads game, the Jets have the Jaguars' full attention.

"Big home game," Del Rio told reporters. "We've dropped the last two on the road. Conference games are very important."

This is a game the Jaguars must win to have any realistic chance of contending for the division title. The Colts host the Titans, which means the Jaguars would likely fall three games behind the Colts if the Jaguars don't beat the Jets.

There's more.

This is a game that could have a major impact as a tiebreaker in the AFC wild-card playoff race. This is also a game that will either put the Jaguars one up in the win column or one down in the loss column. You could say the season will turn on this game.

"They are a good football team that has their quarterback back healthy and he's playing very well," Del Rio said of Chad Pennington. "They're converting a huge number of third downs and that's a problem (on defense) we've been having."

The Jaguars beat the Jets in overtime early last season, in a game in which Pennington re-injured his right shoulder and had to leave the game. His career was thought to be in jeopardy. Four games into this season, he's the NFL's fourth-leading passer with a rating of 102.3

Pennington isn't the Jaguars' only concern. They're also concerned about what head coach Eric Mangini might have up his sleeve defensively. Mangini was the Patriots' defensive coordinator last season when the Patriots scored a 28-3 win over the Jaguars in the playoffs.

"He's had the experience of shutting us down in the playoffs and holding us to three points," Del Rio said of Mangini.

The Jets, however, haven't shut anyone down with Mangini at the helm. They've allowed 91 points, which is third-worst in the AFC.

Del Rio, meanwhile, is concerned about his defense, which is a reversal of form. Offense has been the usual trouble spot for the Jaguars, but not this week; not after scoring 30 points in Washington last Sunday.

The defense, however, allowed 36 points in the overtime defeat, in what was the worst defensive performance in Del Rio's four years as coach.

"I think we recognize we didn't play very well defensively and we've got to get back to the basic fundamentals of shedding (blocks) and tackling, to get back to where we've been defensively around here," Del Rio said.

Rushing the passer is something the Jaguars also didn't do very well in Washington.

"I didn't like what it looked like. It looked like they had a force field around Mark (Brunell) and we never got close to him," Del Rio said. "The number of sacks has never been the focus. We want to affect the quarterback."

Another major concern of Del Rio's is his team's injury report. Marcus Stroud (ankle/groin), Matt Jones (hamstring), Marcellus Wiley (groin) and Derrick Wimbush (knee) are all listed as "doubtful" and did not practice on Wednesday. Decisions must be made on Stroud and Jones, as to whether they will play against the Jets or rest their injuries and try to make a full recovery before the Jaguars return to action on Oct. 22 in Houston. The Jaguars have a bye next week.

"I'll make that determination later in the week. We'll see how they respond to treatment. We're going to do whatever we can to win. Second, we've got to give our guys a chance to heal," Del Rio said.

"It's the beginning of a long season," he added. "There have been some positive signs but clearly there's a lot of work to do."

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