JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton break down three Jaguars keys for Sunday's game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey
1.Running back Leonard Fournette.This will be a key for the Jaguars most weeks, but Sunday has the feel of a Fournette-type game. The Jets held Miami to 30 yards rushing in a 20-6 New York victory Sunday, but allowed 180 yards rushing to the Raiders in Week 2 and 190 to the Bills in Week 1. They twice allowed touchdown runs of more than 45 yards to Oakland. The Jaguars have been diligent in their commitment to make Fournette a focal point – and it's paying off. While his yards-per-carry and total yardage statistics aren't eye-popping, his toughness and ability to keep down-and-distance situations manageable has helped define what is showing signs of being an improving offense. If the Jaguars keep giving Fournette opportunities, his talent will eventually yield big plays and a huge day. This game feels like it could be that day.
2.Pressure on Josh McCown.The Jaguars have 13 sacks in three games; although they haven't come close to matching the 10-sack game they had a Week 1 victory at Houston, they pressured Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco enough in Week 3 to register two sacks and help force two interceptions. That's the kind of turnover-creating chaos the Jaguars' front must create – and the Jaguars this season have forced eight turnovers after finishing last season with just 13 takeaways. The Jets' offense has been more productive than many believed possible entering the season, and New York's offensive line protection last Sunday was a key to Josh McCown's efficient day in an upset victory over the Dolphins. This is a similar challenge to Week 1; if the Jaguars can pressure McCown and force sack/fumbles, they can control this game.
1.Blake Bortles must play somewhere between his performance in Houston and that in London. He doesn't have to throw four touchdowns, but he can't have three turnovers. He was sharp, confident and owned the offense against a very talented Ravens defense. The key from this perspective is that he complete somewhere near the 65 percent of his passes that he did last Sunday, move the chains and keep the defense from spending too much time on the field.
2.The Front Seven played like a pack of crazed dogs in Houston and London – and there is no reason to expect that won't be the case against a Jets offense that looks limited. The Jets offensive line should be vulnerable to the Jaguars' defensive line's attack. The Jaguars' front must get home, which puts the pressure on ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue, the latter of whom largely has been quiet since his two-sack performance in Week 1. McCown is a capable veteran who has played solid ball through the first three weeks, but he isn't that mobile in his 15th season. If Fowler and Ngakoue collapse the pocket, it will play right into the hands of Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson.
3.Own the moment.The Jaguars are the more talented team; it has been some time since we could say that. This is their chance to take the next step and win a game they should instead of doing what many in the national media expect, which is to stumble and fall. The Jaguars know how to win big but they haven't had to win close. The Jaguars' last close game was the Colts game at the end of last season and they couldn't get a first down for what would have been a game-winning field goal – nor could they get Andrew Luck off the field before he threw the game-winning touchdown. This is the Jaguars' game to win and if they're ready physically, they should be prepared mentally to go and claim what some don't think they're capable of yet.