The Jaguars are getting a lot of praise from the national media this week, but the team's head coach and his coaching staff are making sure the praise doesn't go to the players' heads.
"Our coaches are doing a good job. When we win, they don't show us all of the positives," defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said.
On the heels of the Jaguars' dominating performance in a 17-6 win at Tennessee, in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score would indicate, excluding the positives from the game's video tape had to have made for a very brief film study on Monday. The Jaguars' execution was at one of the team's highest levels of efficiency this season.
Fortunately, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio can use the video of the Oakland Raiders' win over the San Diego Chargers to keep his players' focus sharp. As well as the Jaguars played in beating the Titans, the Raiders might have even played better in defeating the Chargers for the second time this season.
"That's a Chargers team that put a pretty good licking on us, so it definitely gets our attention," Del Rio said of the Raiders win. "They absolutely annihilated the Chargers."
To put the two wins in perspective: The Jaguars set a franchise record with 53 rushing attempts against the Titans; the Raiders ran the ball 52 times against the Chargers.
If ever there was a whatever-you-can-do-I-can-do-better game, this would seem to be it. The Jaguars and Raiders are mirror images. The Jaguars are second in the league in rushing; the Raiders are third.
Darren McFadden (870) and Michael Bush (453) have combined for 1,323 yards rushing. Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings have totaled 1,374.
Run the ball, stop the run; the team that does a combination of the two the best will win the game. Right, coach?
"Running the ball and stopping the run are good things to do, but it goes beyond that. They have five miscellaneous touchdowns. We don't have any yet," Del Rio said.
Always, he is careful to challenge his team. Del Rio is careful to counter the praise his team is receiving from what has suddenly become an adoring media.
"This is a week-to-week league. I try not to get carried away with that stuff. There's time for reflection on all of that stuff when time is done. What about this can be better? What about that can be better? You have to keep pushing," Del Rio said.
He's no doubt pushing his defense to improve its performance, though in recent weeks it has certainly played above its number 25 overall ranking (17th against the run and 27th against the pass). Those numbers are built on the strength (weakness) of early-season failures.
For the fourth time in the last six games, the Jaguars will face a team with an unsettled situation at quarterback. This week, they'll face a Raiders team that has split its quarterbacking between Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski, neither of whom has added much to the Raiders offense. The Jaguars pass-defense ranking should benefit.
Jaguars starting quarterback David Garrard, however, will face a stern test against a Raiders pass-defense that may even be better than its number nine ranking. Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is so dominant opponents don't even throw in his direction, and the Raiders' pass-rush is number one in the league in sacks per pass play.
"They play a lot of man coverage. If you're not getting off your jam, you're making your quarterback stand back there a long time," Garrard said.
As hot as the Jaguars are in having won four of their last five games, which easily could have been five straight wins, the specter of the 6-6 Raiders should keep the Jaguars' feet firmly planted.
"The same people that give you love have got the dagger in the other hand. Don't ride the wave. Stay even keel. Just do your job," Garrard said.