A lot questions surrounding the Jaguars right now are focused on next season and the future beyond that. For a 1-8 team there isn’t much else to focus on. Despite this, each week the Jaguars suit up to take on opponents. This week they have the misfortune of playing AFC South rival (and reigning champion), the Houston Texans.
This one looks to be a mess for the Jaguars.
In pretty much every matchup for the game the Jaguars find themselves on the short end. Without Maurice Jones-Drew, there really isn’t any offensive player who could do well (at least on paper) against this defense. Maybe Blaine Gabbert finally comes alive and shows that he can be the quarterback of the future. More probably, the Jaguars will find themselves looking to get this trip over with and get back to Everbank Field.
While the doom and gloom has settled in around the Jaguars, it is still nice to look to the game each week and think, “can we do it?”
The Colts proved that they could when they marched into Lambeau to slay Goliath. The Browns showed that even they have some life in hard fought victories over the Bengals and Chargers. So, can the Jaguars do it?
If the Jaguars hope to be competitive in this game, three major things need to happen.
- Blaine Gabbert needs to be hot
- Rashad Jennings has to average more than 3.0 yards per carry
- The front four on defense have to limit Arian Foster
The Jaguars have suffered at the hands of good running backs all season. The once-impressive defense has allowed 1,237 on the grounds in nine games. That’s almost 140 rushing yards a game (which, interestingly enough, is actually only 29th in the league). With Arian Foster coming to town the Jaguars need to make sure that they can exploit the more turnover-prone Matt Schaub (doesn’t mean it happens often, of course), and that starts by limiting the running back and forcing the Texans to throw.
Of course, this could all backfire because the Texans, like all good teams, have a seemingly endless list of playmakers to pass to. Which brings me to point two. Rashad Jennings has to give Jaguars time of possession in this game. Jennings has been a major disappointment for the team all season and probably won’t turn things around against a superb defense like the Texans’. Fortunately, division games are always a toss up which makes this as good a time as any to wish upon a star. If Jennings can get closer to four yards per carry then the Jaguars could find balance on offense and have sustained drives that keep the Texans’ offense off the field.
Assuming that Jennings doesn’t get above three yards a carry and that the Jaguars are playing from behind (as they do), Blaine Gabbert needs to play lights out. I’m not saying a 300 yard game. I’m saying a game where he makes all the passes and puts the Jaguars in a position to win. If that comes in the form of only 200 yards, sure I’ll take it. If that comes in form of 400 yards (who am I kidding?), I’ll take it. Whatever it means, Gabbert needs to make sure that his receivers are in a position to do something with the ball. I’m talking about a lot less dump-offs, less high balls, and more shots to Cecil Shorts III and other players who can actually do something with the ball in their hands.
I write these paragraphs of hope from a fantasy land, I fear. While I do think that Gabbert has the physical tools to do what I suggest, the receivers may not. While Jennings has shown he can be a good runner, he just hasn’t been in the recent past. While I think the front four can do what I suggest, they just aren’t the same unit as last year.
Is there still hope? Yes. Is this hope getting harder and harder to come by for specific games? Absolutely.
Either way, I’m a Jags fan and that isn’t changing so I’ll be clinging to every bit of illogical, fantasy hope that I can get my hands on.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims