Let's forget about the division standings, the playoffs race, windows of opportunity, the salary cap, etc. Forget about soft zones and no-huddle offenses and the play-calling, and let's focus on the most fundamental of issues confronting the Jaguars.
First and foremost is this team's inability to win the line of scrimmage, and that goes right to the running game. If Vince Lombardi was correct when he said that football is "first and foremost and running game," then the Jaguars must address the state of their 26th-ranked rushing attack.
Of course, that goes directly to time of possession, at which the Jaguars are currently dead-last in the league, with their opponents averaging almost eight more minutes of possession time a game. If time is points, and it is, then how are you going to win when the other guy has the ball for 13 percent more of the game than you do?
Everybody has an answer for what's wrong with the Jaguars, but most of those opinions involve desperate strategies. What's wrong with the Jaguars has nothing to do with anything more than the most basic fundamental of the game: First and foremost, football is a running game. It's a good fix-it starting point for this Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now, here's "10 things" the Jaguars have to do to beat the Bengals.
- Run the ball--We pretty much already covered that.
- Stop Corey Dillon--We could make this "things" 2-10; that's how much Dillon means to the Bengals' success. When the Bengals run the ball, they win; when Dillon is stopped, the Bengals lose. Pretty simple, right?
- Get the lead early--If you don't introduce some degree of panic to the Bengals' offensive strategy, they will never back away from their running game. The idea has got to be to take the ball out of Dillon's hands and put it in Jon Kitna's hands.
- Do what you're told--If Gary Moeller's scheme was good enough to beat the Steelers and the Titans, it's certainly good enough to beat the Bengals.
- Be firm in the red zone--Bengals kicker Neil Rackers is struggling. Make the Bengals kick.
- Imagine they're the Steelers--The Bengals don't play the Steelers' 3-4 scheme, but coach Dick LeBeau is a Pittsburgh refugee who employs all of the "Blitzburgh" ways Dom Capers made famous. When you play the Bengals, you're playing a slightly lesser version of the Steelers. The Bengals run the ball and they blitz.
- Huddle--The no-huddle is a very entertaining change of pace, but it sure doesn't help time of possession. With a quarterback on a gimpy leg, it would be to the Jaguars' advantage to reduce the play count.
- Punt it away from Warrick--He burned the Jaguars for an 82-yard touchdown return last season.
- Hold onto your hats--The AFC Central is an amazing collection of helmets. One wears its logo on the right side only, another has no logo, and the Bengals' helmet looks like a pumpkin with varicose veins.
- Smile for the camera--Hey, this one's on TV.