JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars will face defenses stacked against the run.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said that's the Jaguars' reality, but he also said they're far from alone – and that all NFL teams and offenses face "eight-in-the-box" defenses.
The challenge, Hackett said, is clear:
Figure out a way to be effective somehow, some way – and no matter how often teams bunch the line of scrimmage to limit the running offense.
"In the NFL that's typically what everybody does," Hackett said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-1) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET.
"Our defense plays that way. Everybody wants to stop the run. At some point, you have to be able to run the ball against it. And at some point, you have to be able to throw the ball against it. It's about that compromise between those two."
The Jaguars through two games rank ninth in the NFL in rushing, and 23rd passing. They rushed for 155 yards on 39 carries in a season-opening victory at Houston, then rushed for just 99 yards on 25 carries in a Week 2 loss at home to Tennessee.
The Jaguars' passing offense struggled against Tennessee, and quarterback Blake Bortles completed one pass of more than 10 yards to a wide receiver while the game was within a score.
Hackett said downfield opportunities are in the Jaguars' game plan each week, and said a flurry of long down-and-distance situations in the second and third quarter made throwing deep difficult against Tennessee.
The Jaguars' committed penalties on five of six drives during that span that forced them into down-and-distance situations of 19 or more yards to go. They did not convert any of those situations into first downs.
"As much as you want to be aggressive, when that happens, the whole plan kind of changes," Hackett said. "You've got to adjust on the fly."
All three coordinators – Hackett on offense, Todd Wash on defense and Joe DeCamillis on special teams – spoke to the media Thursday, as did running back Leonard Fournette.
Notes and observation from Coordinator Thursday:
*Fournette said while Thursday's London trip will be his first out of the United States, he wasn't particularly nervous about it. "It's a long flight," he said, smiling. "That's the only thing." Players are encouraged to sleep on the plane to adapt to the five-hour time difference. Fournette's flight plan: perhaps take a sleeping pill and try to listen to an app he downloaded Wednesday with waves and the ocean. "I think I'll use that," he said. …
*Fournette in two regular-season NFL games has rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries. He also has shown himself to be a bruising, aggressive runner breaking tackles and thriving on yards after contact. Fournette on Thursday was asked his approach on whether to initiate contact near the sidelines or step out of bounds to reduce wear and tear on his body. "It depends on what you want," Fournette said. "Sometimes, it's better to save your body. Sometimes, it's better to let somebody know it's going to be a long day to keep tackling. It all depends on what mood the runner is in." Asked if he preferred running over the defender, Fournette smiled. "Sometimes," he said. "It sends a message not just to the defense, but to your offensive line and the offense, too: the physical part of the game starts with the offense and the O-line." …
*DeCamillis said a priority this week is kick protection, with the Ravens having blocked nine kicks over the last two seasons. "They're outstanding at it," DeCamillis said. "They've won some games that way, and that's something we have to make sure we take care of." DeCamillis was direct regarding a 46-yard third-quarter punt return by Titans returner Adoree' Jackson that set up a 34-yard, momentum-changing touchdown drive Sunday. "We gave up a short field," he said. "It can't happen. We have to become a unit on both coverage teams to sway field position in a positive direction." …
*Wash said the Ravens' strength offensive is obvious: a running offense that ranks third in the NFL and averages 146.5 yards per game. "They're doing a heck of a job running the football," he said. "They do a nice job with their backs and their offensive line is big, physical and can run. We have to be able to handle the run game for 60 minutes." The Jaguars' defense allowed touchdowns on four consecutive second-half drives Sunday after allowing three field goals through two and half quarters. "We had guys trying to make some plays instead of doing their job," Wash said. "The ball got outside us a couple of times. We just have to make sure all 11 are doing their job and we'll be able to handle the run game." …