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Ten Things: Jaguars-Rams


1. Play better at quarterback.You can't talk Jaguars without talking quarterback. So, let's talk quarterback: The Jaguars have scored five points in Blaine Gabbert's two starts, and he has thrown five interceptions. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley supported him not once, not twice, but all week this week. Not everything that has happened this season is Gabbert's fault, not even in his two starts. Not even close. But does he need to play better? Absolutely.

2. Calm the waters.Eugene Monroe was traded to the Ravens this week. Midseason trades are relatively rare in the NFL, and there's a chance the loss of Monroe weakens an already struggling line in the short term. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon is also returning from a four-game suspension, and while that's a positive, there are a lot of off-field, non-game stories this week with people analyzing/criticizing/whatevering from a lot of different directions. None of that matters come game day. Take a breath, shut out the commentary and play.

3. Get Luke Joeckel adapted to the left side . . .The aftereffect of the Monroe trade is that Joeckel will start his first NFL game at left tackle Sunday. He played the first four games of the season at right tackle, struggling at times, but playing better than many observers indicated. He played left tackle at Texas A&M, and figures to be there for the long-term now for the Jaguars. He should be more comfortable on the left side, so this adaptation shouldn't be too difficult.

4. . . . and block Robert Quinn.Joeckel's first assignment on the left side isn't easy. Quinn, a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, is Pro Football Focus' highest-rated defensive end this season with a 16.2 overall grade. And he's every bit as good as his grade. He is by far the NFL's highest-rated pass rusher with five sacks and six hits along with 10 quarterback hurries. Joeckel has graded average as a pass blocker and negatively as a run blocker in four games on the right side, but should be more comfortable at his natural position.

5. Run.So far this season there have been few signs of the Jaguars being able to do this. They're averaging 2.3 yards a carry this season, and it doesn't matter what level of football you play, it's tough to win when you don't run that well. One reason the Jaguars are excited about Austen Pasztor is his run-blocking ability, and there's a thought the changes on the offensive line could improve this area.

6. Get Blackmon involved . . .This shouldn't be an issue. The Jaguars have been waiting for Justin Blackmon to return all season, and he's finally back after a four-game suspension. His presence gives the team run-after-the-catch ability it doesn't have without him, and it also gives them a player who can make big catches "above the Xs and Os." They need that. Blackmon's won't put the team in the upper echelon of NFL offenses, but it sure doesn't hurt.

7. . .  and take advantage of Shorts, too.Shorts has taken some heat this week, and with at least three catchable passes going uncaught last week – including two that led to interceptions – some of that criticism has been deserved. But Shorts in one week hasn't gone from strength to liability. The first "drop" was a difficult catch on which Shorts adjusted and leaped for the pass, and the second was a play on which interference probably should have been called. Shorts should benefit from defenses focusing more on Blackmon, and the Jaguars need to be ready to take advantage of that adjustment.

8. Stop the run.Bradley and Defensive Coordinator Bob Babich said the team actually played the run well for the most part against the Colts, with a couple of breakdowns leading to a 50-yard run by Donald Brown and a scramble by Andrew Luck. The Rams are far from one of the NFL's elite running teams. If the Jaguars are going to start stopping the run efficiently, this is an opportunity.

9. Cut down the mistakes.This means penalties, and more. The Jaguars have made too many penalties in the first three weeks, and they have left makeable plays unmade. They're not talented enough to do that.

10. Play better.This is oh-so basic in a feature such as this, and so much more difficult in reality. But the Jaguars didn't play well against the Colts, certainly not as well as they had against the Raiders and Seahawks in spots. That was particularly true on offense. The Jaguars aren't the most talented team in the NFL, but the players on the roster are capable of winning. That's not true if they play poorly.

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