JACKSONVILLE – Darrell Bevell's challenge this week is as real as it gets.
And while the Jaguars' opponent this week, the Buffalo Bills, are comparatively "simple" defensively, the task facing Bevell – the Jaguars' offensive coordinator – isn't simple at all.
The Bills' defense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
The Bills are also No. 1 in takeaways.
And as Bevell sees it, neither of those rankings are remotely a fluke.
"They're an outstanding defense, really at all three levels from the back end all the way forward," Bevell said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-6) prepared to play the Bills (5-2) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Bills, who also rank No. 6 in the NFL offensively, have been dominant defensively since Week 1. They rank No. 1 in total yards (269.0 a game, 25.6 ahead of second-place Carolina), passing yards (182.6) and points (15.6) allowed, and have forced a league-high 18 turnovers – a league-high 11 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries.
"We're going to have our hands full," Bevell said. "We're going to have to match their execution. They're a very well-coached team. They run a sound scheme. The guys are in the right place, and they do a really nice job."
The Bills, unlike the Jaguars' six most-recent opponents, run a 4-3 defense with comparatively few exotic, pre-snap looks. The Houston Texans in Week 1 were the Jaguars' last 4-3 opponent.
"They have great talent," Bevell said. "They have a great scheme. If they need to do things, they still have the ability to do it in their defense. It shows up here and there. But they have done nice job with all the guys playing well within the scheme that they don't have to do a lot of crazy stuff."
Jaguars running back James Robinson missed practice for a second consecutive day Thursday with a heel injury sustained in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, with starting offensive guard Ben Bartch practicing full Thursday after missing Wednesday with an illness. Cornerback Tyson Campbell (toe) and defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton (shoulder) each practiced full for a second consecutive day, and running back Carlos Hyde practiced full with a calf injury after being limited Wednesday. Linebacker Dakota Allen practiced limited after missing practice Wednesday with an ankle injury.
Robinson, considered day-to-day this week, has rushed for 482 yards with five touchdowns this season. Backup running back Carlos Hyde has rushed for 140 yards on 140 carries. "We have to go with next-man-up mentality," Bevell said. "James is a loss. We want him in there. I don't think it's a final decision yet. We're still going to take it to the end of the week, but it's a next-man-up mentality and we'll continue to go with those guys."
Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen: "The one thing I stress to our defense is, 'Taking care of your job, doing your job on every play.' We have to string two great halves together. Early in the year, it was the first halves playing well and the second halves not. The last couple of games, a touchdown in each half. [The defense was] a couple of plays away from really a shutout in those halves. We have to continue to get better, continue to develop."
Bevell on Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, whose yards per attempt and passer rating in a Week 8 loss to Seattle Sunday were his lowest in each category since a Week 2 loss to Denver: "Trevor's been in this game a long time. He has played in some big games. He has had good games and he has had bad games before. Each week is a standalone week in this league. You have to come back and always prepare to play your best. If you don't play your best, it's a new week; you get a new opportunity."
Cullen on Bills quarterback Josh Allen: "He's a gunslinger. We've got a major challenge. He's getting better every year. He can run the ball effectively – and I mean called runs. He's faster than you think. He makes the throws and he can run. It will be a major challenge. He's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, obviously."