JACKSONVILLE – We'll stay in Basic Mode this week.
Astute readers of "Ten Things" – and both of them know who they are – will well remember that the 10 things the Jaguars had to do to win the regular-season opener in Houston this past Sunday were very basic.
The Jaguars did many of the 10 things, and basic worked in a big-ol' basic way.
It's doubtful the Jaguars will dramatically alter their approach from that one-sided Week 1 victory when they play host to the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field Sunday.
Running. Playing smart. Playing impactful defense. It's too early to call that a tried-and-true formula after one game, but the Jaguars figure to keep trying it until it proves less true.
And if the Jaguars don't figure to dramatically alter their approach, why should we?
With that in mind, here are 10 basic, straightforward things the Jaguars must do to beat the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday:
1.Run.Don't look for this to leave the Jaguars' "10 Things" world any time soon. The Jaguars may not always run effectively this season. But they will run. They must. It's what they do.
2.Feed Leonard Fournette.Yes, this is part of No. 1 ("run"), but feeding Fournette can't be overemphasized – and there are more ways than "run" to do it. The rookie running back showed in Week 1 he's a better receiver than many believed. However you do it, get it to him. His ability to squeeze the most from every touch will be key for this team all season.
3.Control the front, offensive style.This wasn't part of Week 1's 10 things, because who dared to believe the Jaguars' offensive front could control the Texans? They've shown it now. And now it's going be a very basic key for this team every week.
4.Control the front, defensive style.Lost in the 10-sack euphoria last week was the Jaguars holding the Texans to 93 yards rushing. Holding the Titans under 100 will be tougher. They're one of the NFL's best rushing teams. Look for middle linebacker Paul Posluszny to play more than the eight plays he played last week because the defense will be in its base package much more than last week. Posluszny versus running backs Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray? That's a matchup to watch.
5.Pressure, pressure, pressure.This won't change much week-to-week, either. Don't look for a repeat of the 10-sack Week 1 performance Sunday; the Titans' offensive line is significantly better than that of Houston. Still, pressure must be applied. And as important as registering sacks is creating pressure and disruption. That will be more difficult this week than in the opener. Difficult or not, it's critical.
6.Contain, contain, contain.Pressuring Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is tricky. It's great to get pressure, but he's dangerous outside the pocket. A key factor for the Jaguars: linebacker Myles Jack and Telvin Smith in nickel packages. They contained Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson in Week 1 and both figure to play a key role Sunday. Key, too: the interior rush of end Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson.
7.Hit back.The Titans are tough. They play smash-mouth on offense. If anything defined the Jaguars' Week 1 victory in Houston it was dominance on both fronts – and the ability to respond in adverse situations. That's something they didn't always show in recent seasons. They must show it Sunday.
8.Protect Bortles.The Jaguars didn't allow a sack in the opener. A huge reason was they ran well enough that quarterback Blake Bortles passed just 21 times. And when he did throw, he had time more often than not. The Titans' defensive front isn't as hyped as the Texans. But it has Jurrell Casey. And Derrick Morgan. And Brian Orakpo. They're dangerous.
9.Trust Marqise.Wide receiver Allen Robinson is out for the season. That's bad. What's good is that the Jaguars have Marqise Lee. He emerged last season as a potential go-to receiver, and Bortles said he has a better rapport with Lee than in any of their first three seasons together. That rapport must be trusted. Lee has the ability to be a No. 1. Now, he must do it.
10.Take advantage of the advantage.The Jaguars are entering a game above .500 at EverBank Field for the first time since 2010. They're doing so in the wake of Hurricane Irma – and in the wake of one of their most impressive performances in recent memory. The crowd will be ready. There will be energy. The 'Bank has been a major home-field advantage before. It will be again. No time like Sunday.