It was supposed to be the "easy" part of the schedule. It makes you anxious for the hard part to arrive, doesn't it?
What do you say about a game against a long-troubled Lions team in a town that is so turned off that blackouts are starting to become commonplace? Here's what you say:
• There's no lack of drama for the Jaguars. It's all on the line for the boys from Jacksonville. This is it; win or else. Any chance the Jaguars have of making a late-season charge for the playoffs rests with a win in Detroit.
But this one is about more than making a late-season charge. This one is about simple self-respect. You can't lose to 0-8 teams in consecutive games and not join their ranks.
On the first Sunday of the second half of the season, the Jaguars have reached their tipping point. You can spin this game one of two ways. With a win, the Jaguars can return home for two games that could put them over .500 and back into the wild-card race. Should they lose in Detroit … well, you know the rest.
That's the challenge the Jaguars are facing. Do they want respectability and one more chance to salvage their season, or will they … well, you know the rest.
How's that for drama?
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Lions.
- Have self-respect—This team is too good to fall so far so fast.
- Commit to the game plan—It'll work. Just do it.
- Start fast on defense—The Jaguars have fallen behind 14-0, 7-0 and 7-0 early in each of the last three games. That's not a formula for winning.
- Run the ball—Don't just say it, do it. The Lions are 31st in the league against the run. What's it going to take for this team to recapture its offensive trademark?
- Make a statement—I don't know what that statement is, but do something that says something definitive about this team and its players.
- Play pass-defense—The Lions are 31st in rushing, so the only part of their game that would seem to pose a threat is their passing attack, which features Calvin Johnson, the Lions' only true playmaker.
- Find last year's energy—This is not the same team that willed itself to victory in Pittsburgh last season. Where did that energy go? It needs to be re-discovered.
- Rush the passer—The Lions are unsettled at quarterback. Press the issue.
- Play for the tape—We're rapidly nearing the point of evaluation and decision on personnel as it pertains to this team's future.
- Think positively—It's not too late. Winning can fix everything. Give it one more try.