There are those games that seem to define a whole season. This game has done that often for the Jaguars.
It did it a year ago. Wait a minute. Define a season? No, it defined more than that. It defined a season and an entire offseason.
The Jaguars' loss in Tennessee in week 15 of last year was the start of a three-game collapse that kept the Jaguars out of the playoffs. It was also a game that produced a meltdown by David Garrard that resulted in a chain of offseason events: the gutting of the offensive coaching staff, the reinstatement of Byron Leftwich as the team's starting quarterback and, ultimately, the release of Leftwich and the reinstatement of Garrard as the team's starting quarterback.
There's a lesson in all of that: Never underestimate the importance of one game. This game in Tennessee last year was the trigger point for cataclysmic events in Jaguars history.
So what will be the importance of Sunday's game in Tennessee? Will it be the game that defines this season for the Jaguars? Will it produce more cataclysmic events? Could it trigger a run to the postseason?
The possibilities are endless. Yeah, this one is real, real big.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Titans.
- Stop the run—Well, this one sure was easy. The Jaguars gave up 282 yards rushing to the Titans in the season opener and that output has lifted the Titans to third place in the league rush rankings.
- Make him be a passer—Here's another easy one. Vince Young is probably the league's worst passer, so it would only make sense to make him be a passer.
- Play their game—The Titans bait you into being aggressive, and then they feed off your turnovers. Don't take the bait. Run it, be conservative and wait for them to screw up.
- Make a play on special teams—Something always seems to happen on special teams in these games. Be the team that makes it happen.
- Block Haynesworth—That's the priority up front. The interior of the Jaguars offensive line has to find Haynesworth and block him, and that's going to be a very tall order for whoever replaces Chris Naeole at right guard.
- Secure the ball—We saw what happened last year when the Jaguars didn't secure the ball.
- Convert third down—That's how you win time of possession and that's how you control the tempo of the game.
- Be gritty—This team has issues and it needs to make a statement about its character and its resolve.
- Score two touchdowns—The team that does will win.
- Have fun—This is a great time of the year and the stadium in Nashville, whatever its name is, is a great place to play a football game on a Sunday afternoon in the fall.