Wednesday Warm-up: Jacksonville Jaguars need to force turnovers


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Halfway through the work week, it’s time to turn the page on the Jacksonville Jaguars indefensible loss to the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday and look ahead to their upcoming matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even though it’s only week 5, this Sunday’s game might be one of the most important and telling in the Gus Bradley era. The Jaguars have very rarely expected to win games over the past 3 or so seasons, but this is one of the few matchups where Jacksonville should be better. The Jaguars are in year 3 of a rebuild while the Bucs have a turnover-prone rookie quarterback and a defense that has starpower but very little depth across the board.

Going back to the quarterback, the Jaguars absolutely have to take advantage of Jameis Winston in this game. Winston had a horrific performance against the Carolina Panthers last week, throwing 4 interceptions to bring his season total to a league-leading 7. The Jaguars somehow only have 1 interception so far this season and 3 total turnovers. One of the Jaguars biggest issues on defense last year was the complete inability to force turnovers (only 6 interceptions in all of 2014).

Looking at this matchup and at how Winston has played so far, the Jaguars absolutely have to get their hands on some of the rookie QB’s passes. Why? In addition to Winston’s 7 interceptions, he has 6 touchdowns and a respectable 7.26 yards per attempt. Even though he throws a lot of interceptions, Winston also has the ability to push the ball deep and make some big plays. The Jaguars can’t allow Winston to make those plays without balancing them out with some turnovers.

The player I’m putting on the spot is second year linebacker Telvin Smith. With Sen’Derrick Marks still out, Smith is easily the Jaguars best defensive player and sole playmaker on that side of the ball. Smith has been solid in the run game and he’s been extremely close to a few interceptions this season. He’s starting to turn the corner mentally as a coverage linebacker, but he still has some lapses. Here Smith should have stayed with Fleener in the endzone and probably picked off a reckless pass by Hasselbeck in last week’s loss.

Whether it’s Smith or someone in the secondary, the Jaguars need to help Winston do what he does best – throw interceptions.

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