JACKSONVILLE – Here are 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Houston Texans at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …
1.Protect the ball. We'll keep this thought at No. 1. Why? The Jaguars last week against the Giants didn't commit a turnover for the first time this season, and the result was a victory, that's why. If this team wins the turnover battle, it has a chance. If not …
2.Block J.J. Watt. It isn't No. 1, but it's awfully, awfully close. Actually, maybe it should be …
3.Keep Marqise Lee involved.This isn't about boosting the rookie wide receiver's confidence. This about the fact that getting the ball to Lee right now means getting the ball to one of the team's best, most-dangerous offensive weapons. He started to play with more quickness and purpose last week. Keep that going.
4.Get the pass protection right.This isn't just about blocking Watt, and it's not just about the offensive line, either. Of the Giants' seven sacks on Blake Bortles Sunday, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said just three were on the offensive line. So, while some of the sacks are about protection, some are on Bortles not getting rid of the ball quickly enough. Some are on blitz pickup. Some are on communication. Whatever it's on, it has to get fixed. The Jaguars won Sunday allowing seven sacks and a lot of other pressures, but it's hard to do that often.
5.Up the tempo.You can't do this all the time, and you have to balance playing up tempo with the need to extend drives. Going up tempo all the time can put the defense in bad spots, and as good as the defense has been you don't want to put it in bad spots all the time. Still, this group of offensive players plays best when the tempo is high. So, when possible … turn it up.
6.Pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick.The Jaguars' defensive line has gone above and beyond in recent weeks. Sen'Derrick Marks. Roy Miller. Chris Clemons. Red Bryant. Tyson Alualu. Ziggy Hood. Abry Jones. Ryan Davis. Those guys are making more plays than it's fair to expect. Still, they must keep making them. The line is the strength of the team. If its level of play dips much, it's hard to image the Jaguars having a chance.
7.Force turnovers … and score.A couple of weeks ago, defensive players said they needed to force turnovers. They did. Last week, they said they needed to score off those turnovers. They did. Is it fair to ask the defense to get more pressure? To create more sacks? To score? Again? Probably not, but hey, life ain't fair.
8.Keep believing.It's cliché, it's CoachSpeak and it's maybe even a little hokey to talk about "believing" in professional sports. You know what? So what? The Jaguars had every opportunity last Sunday against the Giants to quit, and to accept a loss. Many teams down 21-0 in the first half would have done just that. Instead, the Jaguars kept playing, got a couple of breaks and eventually accomplished the biggest comeback in franchise history. So, is it hokey? Is it cliché? Is it maybe even a bit collegiate? Sure, but if the Jaguars are going to keep winning in the final four games, they gotta believe.
9.Keep the crowd in it.Forget the record. This crowd is enthusiastic and it is behind this team. Did you hear it in the fourth quarter against the Giants? That didn't sound like a 1-10 crowd, and it sure didn't sound like a crowd that has given up. It was lo-o-o-oud and was a huge reason the Jaguars won. Stay close. Keep fighting. The fans at the 'Bank will stay in it.
10.Block J.J. Watt.Just sayin'.