It's a drama unto itself. The Jaguars will host the Chicago Bears this Sunday in a game that'll leave the winner decidedly in the playoff race and the loser out in the cold, but another drama will also unfold at Alltel Stadium. Will the Jaguars score when they reach the red zone?
Currently last in the league in red-zone offense, the Jaguars' one-for-five performance last Sunday night against the Steelers made for a week-long focus on the red-zone woes. What's the problem? Is it the play-calling? Or is it the playing?
The question was put directly to coach Jack Del Rio on Thursday.
"We've identified it as an issue we'd like to resolve. We believe we've added some weapons offensively. We have to coach better and play better and execute. I assure you, there's plenty of attention being given to areas we're not as strong in as we'd like to be. We are at work trying to get that rectified as soon as possible," Del Rio said.
Obviously, Del Rio isn't going to throw his players or his play-caller, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, under the bus. The Jaguars' red-zone failures are sensitive subject matter and the issue will only intensify should the Jaguars stall in the red zone against the Bears.
That's one of the reasons this Sunday's game is so important. It's about the playoffs race, of course, but it's also about an issue Del Rio would love to see cool down.
"We're now in the fourth quarter (of the schedule). I think there's a heightened sense of urgency," Del Rio said.
In Thursday's press conference, Del Rio was questioned intensely about the failure of his players to make plays at critical junctures of the game. Where are the playmakers, Del Rio was asked?
The Jaguars have only scored 19 touchdowns through 12 games; opponents have scored 25. The Jaguars have just seven interceptions; opponents have eight.
Del Rio's team has yardage advantages over its opponents – 89 more yards rushing and 42 yards more passing – but the big plays have been made by the opposition in the last five games.
"I continue to be optimistic because I see good signs. We have guys getting better and I think it's just a matter of time before we have a breakout effort," Del Rio said.
Could that breakout game be this Sunday?
Del Rio referred to his experience as a player on the 1989 Dallas Cowboys team that was 1-15. The Cowboys were in the first year of rookie head coach Jimmy Johnson's rebuilding phase.
"We heard all year how bad the offensive line was. A few years later all five guys were in the Pro Bowl and the Cowboys had won a couple of Super Bowls," Del Rio said. "When it comes together and we're firing on all cylinders, it won't be because we threw everybody out and found new guys.
"It's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, but the things that are being done are sound things. We're preparing to play our best football on Sunday," Del Rio added.