JACKSONVILLE – The goal remains the same. The desire remains strong.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone made that clear this week when asked if perhaps in the midst of a franchise-record losing streak the team might consider ending the seasons for some players to prevent injuries moving forward.
Marrone's answer was clear that the Jaguars would not be doing that – not against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday or against the four opponents thereafter.
"There's no doubt that we are going to try to win every single game that we play," he said.
The trick is finding a way to do that with a injury-depleted roster that will be without key front-line defensive players such as end Josh Allen, tackle DaVon Hamilton and safety Daniel Thomas – as well as four of the team's top four cornerbacks: D.J. Hayden, CJ Henderson, Chris Claybrooks and Sidney Jones IV.
Mike Glennon will start a second consecutive game at quarterback for the Jaguars Sunday after throwing two touchdown passes and no interception in his first start since 2017 last week. Glennon led a late rally, but a late two-point conversion pass was incomplete and the Jaguars lost to the Cleveland Browns, 27-25.
That was their 10th consecutive loss, a franchise-record losing streak for a single season.
Another trick for the Jaguars Sunday: Finding a way to snap that losing streak against the Vikings, a 5-6 team that has won four of last five games to move to within range of the NFC wild-card chase.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw 12 touchdown passes and one interception in November, and running back Dalvin Cook is second in the NFL in rushing yards and first in rushing touchdowns. A Vikings that is traditionally dangerous under Head Coach Mike Zimmer is getting that way again.
This game, like the last 10, will be tough for the Jaguars. But there are things they can – and must – do to win. Here are 10:
1.Stop Cook. He's one of the NFL's most dynamic backs with at least 115 yards rushing in five of the last eight games. He's consistent and dangerous. If the Jaguars don't hold him under 100 yards, they're in trouble.
2.Get to Cousins. This depends at least somewhat on accomplishing No. 1 because if you don't stop Cook, it will be hard to get into enough passing situations to pressure Cousins. But if you can pressure Cousins, he will make mistakes.
3.Run Robinson. He's not a breakaway threat on Cook's level, but Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson is among the NFL's best running backs this season. When he rushes for more than 60 yards, the Jaguars score 20 or more. When he doesn't, they don't. They must keep him involved to have a chance.
4.Take advantage of the crowd. Or lack thereof. U.S. Bank Stadium historically is tough on road teams, with their famous Gjallarhorn blaring after touchdowns and big plays -- and pumping up a passionate, loud crowd. The Gjallarhorn still blasts, but the energy is never the same with no more than 250 fans now allowed there because of COVID-19.
5.Welcome back, Chark. The Jaguars are a better team when wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. plays. He's playing Sunday. Glennon must get him involved and keep him involved.
6.Limit Thielen and Jefferson. Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen is one of the NFL's most dependable receivers and has 11 touchdowns receiving this season. Rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson averages 17.7 yards a reception and has six touchdowns. The Jaguars' secondary is decimated by injuries. This is easier said than done – and it may not be doable.
7.Get a break early. When you're as overmatched as the Jaguars' defense may be in this one, you need a break – or two. The Jaguars need a fumble recovery or an interception – one of each would help – early to get some momentum.
8…. and turn the breaks into points. The Jaguars too often this season have failed to take advantage of opportunities. That's a recipe for 1-10.
9.Win the turnover margin. The Jaguars actually have won the turnover battle twice in the last four weeks. They didn't win either game, but they narrowly lost those games to Green Bay (24-20) and Cleveland (27-25). So, no … doing this doesn't guarantee the Jaguars will win. But losing it essentially guarantees they won't.
10.Find a way to finish. The Jaguars have had possession with a chance to tie or lead in the final three minutes three times in the last four games. What they haven't been able to do is finish. How they finish doesn't matter. They just find a way. Somehow. Whatever it takes.