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Jaguars Understand That Now Is the Time and the Goals Are Still Right in Front of Them

Thursday insider

JACKSONVILLE – Travis Etienne Jr. is approaching this crucial time simply.

The Jaguars need to win Sunday. Little margin – if any – remains. Sunday's game is important. The same should be true the following week – and the week after.

Not that that changes the approach. At least Etienne said it shouldn't.

"This is when we should be playing our best ball," the third-year running back said.

If that's true, it's also true that the Jaguars need to be playing their best in the coming weeks with what was a two-game division lead now a lead based on season-ending tiebreakers.

"There shouldn't be any pressure. We just have to get back to what we were doing. We have to get on the right foot, take it from there and get into the race."

The Jaguars, the defending South champions, led the division by two games following a Week 12 victory over the Houston Texans. They enter the final three weeks of the regular season tied with the Texans and Indianapolis Colts in the South at 8-6, leading the division because of tiebreaker advantages over both team.

"The margin for error gets really small this time of year," Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins said. "They [the Buccaneers] are fighting for the playoffs and we are. Everybody has to bring their A-Game."

Jenkins said that has been the case throughout an ongoing three-game losing streak, with all three losses coming against strong AFC North postseason contenders – 34-31 in overtime at home to the 8-6 Cincinnati Bengals, 31-27 at the 9-5 Cleveland Browns and 23-7 this past Sunday at home to the 11-3 Baltimore Ravens.

"I feel like we've been so close the last couple of weeks," Etienne said. "It's kind of repetitive to talk about, 'We're going to get there, we're going to get there …' It's time to get there. It's time to stop talking about it and be about it, honestly."

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson has talked in recent weeks of needing to avoid self-inflicted mistakes, with multiple pre-snap penalties on offense hurting throughout the losing streak and missed defensive assignments particularly hurting in the loss to Cleveland.

Multiple missed first-half opportunities offensively were a major issue against the Ravens, with the Jaguars missing two field goals and losing a fumble in the red zone. The Jaguars also let time run out with possession inside the Ravens five-yard line without scoring at the end of the first half.

"You're going to get everybody's A-Game," Jenkins said. "That's why these games get that much more difficult down the road. We're close every game, but playing against the Clevelands, the Cincinnatis – teams that are playing for spots in the playoffs – it's not physical at that point.

"Of course it's going to be physical. It has to be more mental. We need to know what's coming and play the game like chess, not checkers."

The Jaguars because of their tiebreaker edge over Houston and Indianapolis will win a second consecutive AFC South title if they win their final three games: at Tampa, home against the Carolina Panthers (2-12) and at the Tennessee Titans (5-9).

"We control our own destiny; there's no panic," Jenkins said, with Etienne saying: "We just have to look at it as one game. It's a losing streak, but we can't look at it like that. We have to look at it as one game at a time – just like when we were on a winning streak it was one game at a time.

"We have to approach it with the same mindset. This is a big week for us coming off losses on the road and at home. I feel like one game at a time will get us on the right track. We have to go at it with that mindset.

"There shouldn't be any pressure. Everybody should be out here playing free."


  • Jenkins on Jaguars backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, who will start Sunday if quarterback Trevor Lawrence – currently in concussion protocol – is unable to play: "We have huge confidence. We go against C.J. every day. We see him make some crazy throws that a lot of people might not get to see. He'll be able to display that on Sunday."

Calvin Ridley, Tyson Campbell, Jamal Agnew, DaVon Hamilton, Dawuane Smoot, Andre Cisco, Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun made this a Christmas to remember for hundreds of kids. The smiles spread across Walmart and Academy as children shopped with players for Christmas presents was magical. Swipe through top event photos from this unforgettable experience🎅

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