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Ten things: Jaguars-Broncos


JACKSONVILLE – The best way to change the discussion: Win the next one.

That's NFL reality – and that's absolutely the Jaguars' reality as they prepare to play the Denver Broncos in a Week 2 game at TIAA Bank Field Sunday.

The Jaguars, after an optimistic offseason in which they selected quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and hired legendary college head coach Urban Meyer, lost to the Houston Texans in Week 1 last week – and did so in one-sided fashion, 37-21 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Meyer talked afterward of needing to eliminate avoidable mistakes, so 10 penalties committed in Week 1 – including seven in the first half, four before the snap – were a focus this week. The Jaguars also dropped too many passes in Houston, with Lawrence throwing too many interceptions (three), and the defense allowing too many big plays when defenders had a chance to sack or intercept.

It was a decidedly difficult start. That's reality.

But reality, too, is that the NFL is a week-to-week league. The Jaguars with a victory over the Broncos will be 1-1 with a decidedly different, and more optimistic storyline, entering Week 3. That's certainly possible. And the Jaguars certainly can win Sunday. And they need to win Sunday.

Here are 10 things they must do to do that:

  1. Master the basics. The Jaguars were called for four pre-snap penalties in Week 1, including three for illegal formation. They also had an illegal procedure, were called four times for holding and used two of their three first-half timeouts while on offense. Improving – and having a chance to compete – starts there. They must get lined up and communicate. If they do that, they can improve quickly.
  2. Protect Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars in Week 1 protected Lawrence well; he was sacked just once while throwing 51 times. The task gets more difficult Sunday, with Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio favoring exotic blitz packages and with edge rusher Von Miller capable of pressuring – and sacking quarterbacks – with or without help from the blitz.
  3. Read it right. Lawrence threw three interceptions in Week 1 playing against the Texans' Cover 2 defense. Fangio's defense presents a different challenge – with more complex rushes and multiple, changing coverages. Fangio will spend a lot of time trying to fool Lawrence this week. He probably will do it on occasion. It's up to Lawrence to minimize this.
  4. Run – and keep running. The Jaguars rushed just 16 times in Week 1, which is far from enough. The key here circles back to No. 1. The Jaguars must minimize avoidable penalties to stay in down-and-distance situations that will allow them to run. They must also keep the game close. It's hard to run often – or do it well – when you're constantly facing long-yardage situations or when you're trailing by double digits.
  5. Don't hold on running plays. The Jaguars have been criticized for not planning to run against the Texans. They did plan to run. They ran well early. But two early runs – a 14-yarder by running back James Robinson and a nine-yarder by running back Carlos Hyde – were negated by holding penalties. That forced passes on those drives and by the Jaguars fell behind by double digits late in the first half, which prevented more running. Eliminating mistakes will help keep the game in a position to use their entire playbook.
  6. Make plays defensively. The Jaguars had multiple chances to eliminate the big plays that changed the outcome in Week 1. Two long passes that set up touchdowns stayed in the air long enough to be defensed. Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor escaped pressure/barely got the pass away on those same long passes. When defenders are in position to make plays in the NFL, they must make plays. Those moments change games.
  7. Catch the ball. The Jaguars had four drops in the first half against Houston by some counts. Others counted five or six drops. There was speculation that Lawrence's passes came in too quick. Whatever the number, whatever the reason, catchable passes must be caught. As Meyer said this week, the margin for error in the NFL is too small to squander opportunities.
  8. Force turnovers. The Jaguars haven't forced a turnover in four games – one regular season and three preseason. The Jaguars didn't have that many opportunities here in Week 1, though cornerback Shaq Griffin dropped a would-be interception early. Gotta make the play.
  9. Get there. The Jaguars had good pressure on the passer at times in Week 1. They couldn't quite get there, or quite make the sack. The quarterback must go down. Sacks change momentum and win games defensively.
  10. Stop the run – and pressure the passer. The Jaguars did these things OK in Week 1. They must be a bit stouter early Sunday against a Broncos team that will want to run, and they must tackle Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when they pressure him. The Jaguars left too many plays on the field in Week 1. That included would-be sacks that might have changed momentum. This team can't less such opportunities slip past.

WEEK 2 · Sun 09/19 · 1:00 PM EDT


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The top photos are in from the Jacksonville Jaguars practice on Thursday September 16 ahead of this weekend's Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos.

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