The Jaguars and Blake Bortles must win on Sunday
By David Levin
With London calling and the Jacksonville Jaguars traveling across the pond to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday morning, quarterback Blake Bortles and his teammates are in a “must-win” situation.
Someone told me yesterday he was worried we are beginning to see the “old” Jacksonville Jaguars. The ones who cannot get out of their way on offense and are too gassed on defense to stop anyone. He told me he watches Blake Bortles in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and sees a quarterback who has taken a step back in his progression.
This is not how the script of the 2018 NFL season for these Jaguars was written. They were supposed to be world-beaters, contenders for the Lombardi Trophy and Bortles himself would finally silence critics. That, as we all know, hasn’t happened.
When Doug Marrone met the media on Monday, he talked about preparing for the team’s next game, but also dealt with the questions regarding the 20-7 loss to the Texans from Sunday. There is plenty of work to be done – even today – with the Jaguars leaving on Friday.
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He was asked if there was a player’s only meeting following the fallout of a forgetful Sunday afternoon. It’s normal for that to happen, he said. But the emphasis of a united locker room must be a key component to a Sunday victory this week.
"“That’s not out of the norm. That’s everyone trying to find what their role is and being together and pulling in the same direction,” Marrone said. “That’s what I expect from this team. We’ve done that before. There’s a lot of frustration. The faster you can get everyone back on the same page, especially with a day off tomorrow [Tuesday] for the players – we want everyone in the same mindset and the same mind frame. That was my goal today of when we come back and go. We as coaches have to get our butts to work and get our guys in the best situation.”"
The fact remains no one on offense is playing well right now – with maybe the exception of T.J. Yeldon. The notion that Carlos Hyde, who was acquired last week, will come in and solve the problems with moving the football is a bit outlandish. The offensive line must give Bortles time in the pocket. The interior line must open holes for the running game. The idea of moving back to basic football might be a little too late for progression.
If there was ever a sense of urgency with the franchise, it is now. London has become this football team’s home away from home and the subject of many rumors about the organization’s future. There is irony in the fact the team must play in the UK with essentially their season on the line because of an 0-2 start in the AFC South and losses to both Tennessee and Houston that mean more than any other loss.
Bortles must manage this game as if his career depends on it. He must make the right decisions and not try to do too much. He must rely on a solid running game. The offensive line must have its best game of the season. Wide receivers must catch the football. Most of all, the defense must be given a chance to rest in between series.
The Jaguars have won their last three games at Wembley Stadium, which is another topic that continues to get attention here in Jacksonville. What this team MUST do is go to work like its every football weekend and find the elixir that made this team a winner. Injuries have a lot to do with Jacksonville’s current record. Good teams find ways to overcome obstacles. Bortles, Marrone and the coaching staff must find continuity.
Most of all, this is a week where the slogan “Just win Baby” is the mantra everyone in that locker room should be repeating over and over again. The Eagles are looking to remain in the playoff hunt in the NFC as well. It’s time for Jacksonville to prove they are still a team to be reckoned with in the AFC postseason picture.