Four Down Territory: Preparing for a Jaguars victory

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16: Jermey Parnell
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16: Jermey Parnell /

The Jacksonville Jaguars must find a way to continue to expand their offense if they hope to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone told the media on Friday following the team’s final practice ahead of the road game this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs it’s still early in the NFL season, but he wants this team to continue to get better each week.

The Chiefs present yet another tough test for the AFC South ball club. Playing on the road in an environment like Arrowhead Stadium is no small task. Marrone wants his team to take another step forward, to avoid costly errors and play their brand of football.

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"“You have to stop making mistakes that are going to get you beat. We have obviously done that. I think that it’s going to be a great challenge against this team,” he said. “It’s a great football team we are playing, and we are playing them in their home stadium, which is one of the toughest places to play in the league. There is a lot going on. We have to get ourselves ready, we have to get ourselves focused.”"

That focus will be needed as the Chiefs have the top-ranked offense in the NFL this season. The Jaguars top-ranked defense will welcome the challenge, which could mean a low scoring game if Jacksonville can play toward its strengths.

They also must remember speed is the theme of an Andy Reid offense, one that has plenty of weapons and can hurt an opponent with a strong running game and a passing game that only knows one gear.

The weather should also play a factor today as rain could become an issue moving the football. Marrone said he and the coaching staff are well aware of the forecast and have prepared the team for necessary changes.

"“We’re ready for it. It is 90 percent rain, 5 to 10 MPH winds. It goes back to college for me. I am a big wet ball drill guy. We practice out in the rain. I’m a mudder myself. You hope that the team takes that kind of characteristic.”"

I called my shot yesterday, a 24-20 win by the Jaguars. A victory gives the Jaguars another leg up in making the playoffs. Even five games into the season, game-watching becomes a habit of mine. The Jaguars must continue to progress on offense and take care of their business with the surprise Tennessee Titans right there at the top of the division.

This week, the concentration is on the Chiefs. Here are four steps to beat Kansas City on the road.

First Down – Run the Football

It was brought to my attention this week the Jaguars are a team built for bad weather. The Chiefs, who rely on speed on a fast track, are really built to be a dome team. How the Jaguars get out early and establish the run will tell you whether they count on the passing game to win on Sunday.

Quarterback Blake Bortles said establishing the run will be the focal point with Leonard Fournette out once again with a hamstring injury.

"“I know T.J. [Yeldon] and Corey [Grant] take a lot of pride in that, doing it from the running back room,” he told the media on Wednesday. “Me and the receivers do as well in the passing game. We know we are going to have to make up for some yards that are not there because he is missing. I think we are comfortable obviously.”"

The Jaguars average 113.5 yards a game on the ground. That’s 13th in the NFL this season. Yeldon has to continue to move the football between the tackles and move the chains. He leads the Jaguars with 205 yards rushing this season.

Second Down – Avoid Mistakes

It’s an issue that keeps popping up. The Jaguars get themselves in a jam with costly penalties. Marrone addressed it with the media on Friday.

"“We harp on it all the time. A lot of people, their philosophy is that they don’t believe penalties play a part in winning or losing. I’m the opposite,” Marrone explained.  I think they do play a part. Sometimes, they are crucial. I may look at it differently than a lot of other people, meaning that unforced errors are non-negotiable. They should never happen.”"

The offensive line must do a better job of avoiding holding calls. Andrew Norwell has been cited for “hands to the face” penalties this season that have halted big plays. The Jaguars must find a way to control the line of scrimmage and open holes for the running game.

Bortles has been sacked six times this year. He is on pace to match the 24 sacks he endured last season. Better offensive line play could mean a big day for the running game.

Third Down – Find Tyreek Hill

It’s probably easier said than done, but knowing where Tyreek Hill is on the field on offense and special teams is part of the battle. Marrone was well aware of the heroics of the Chiefs playmaker when asked about him on Friday.

"“Hell yeah. You look at their film. You know who is back there. He [Tyreek Hill] is the best guy in the league right now. Having been in this league for a while and gone against Devin Hester, Tyreek Hill is right up there. I don’t want to take anything from Devin Hester, but Tyreek Hill is just as good in my mind. He’s the same type of player. He’s a gamechanger, whether he is on special teams or on offense.”"

Like it or not, Jalen Ramsey, Hill is used as a wide receiver as well. The matchup of the two during the game is not unthinkable. Jacksonville will also have to contend with Kansas City’s speed on the outside. Sammy Watkins is also a weapon in the Chiefs arsenal.

For the season, Hill has 23 catches for 364 yards and three touchdowns.

Fourth Down – Let the Defense do its Thing

Telvin Smith, Malik Jackson, and Ramsey all spoke about how they looked forward to this game. It’s a big deal early on. The Jaguars have faced three playoff contenders in five weeks. This is yet another test for the defense.

"“It’s going to be a battle,” Ramsey said. “Why would you not want that? Being a competitor, loving the game as much as everybody loves it – that’s what you want.”"

The defense has only one interception this season (in the first game of the year) and only 10 sacks. There must be more penetration up the middle by Jackson and his cohorts. Also, Jacksonville must be more aggressive on the outside and force the Chiefs to unload the ball early.

Kansas City’s quick-fire offense is something everyone is aware of.

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"“If I’m speaking of weapons and how they use their guys, they’re probably the top offense I’ve played in my NFL career. They do a good job of getting guys the ball who can be dangerous with it,” Ramsey added."