Four Down Territory: How the Jaguars beat the Bills on Sunday
By David Levin
The Jacksonville Jaguars look to take another step closer to re-establishing themselves as a possible playoff sleeper when they face Buffalo on Sunday.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone knows his team isn’t out of the playoff conversation in the AFC yet, but he is just trying to focus on winning a football. The Jaguars haven’t done that in seven weeks (including the bye week).
It’s been a long time coming that hopefully will end on Sunday at Buffalo. Both teams are 3-7 with the hope of using this game as a springboard to surprise the rest of the conference with a playoff berth.
"“When you have lost this many games in a row, we are just focused on trying to win one game: this game right now,” Marrone said. “You can’t focus on anything else. We have to do whatever we have to do to go win a game. That is what it comes down to.”"
Things are just plain bad here in Jacksonville. A win renews the team’s confidence, possibly takes some of the heat off the offensive and defensive coordinator and gives the fans here in the community hope of finishing this season strong. For now, it’s a dream. Losing affects everything as it has been evident around TIAA Bank Field. A flicker of hope could go a long way toward making this season a bit easier to deal with.
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Linebacker Telvin Smith added that even in the dark time the franchise is experiencing, no one in the locker room has lost focus on their identity. He hopes that will continue on Sunday against the Bills.
"“It’s been a little tough; we’ve been very inconsistent – definitely not winning, not getting Ws,” Smith said Wednesday. “But that’s one thing this team has done a great job of: continuing to believe in us, believe in who we are.”"
Jacksonville must play better on offense and allow the defense to once again show they have found their swagger again to have a chance on Sunday. Here are four ways the Jaguars win the game against the Bills.
First Down: Don’t turn the ball over – Jacksonville is third in the league in fumbles with 18 but first in the league in fumbles lost with 11. They will need to do a better job of securing the football in the cold weather up north.
Blake Bortles must continue to protect the football and not throw interceptions. Also, the running game must become the dominant juggernaut once again like it was against Pittsburgh.
Second Down: Harass the quarterback – The Jaguars must do a better job of rushing the quarterback this week. Rookie Josh Allen could find it tough sledding against this defense, which could also mean a huge day for Calais Campbell and/or Yannick Ngakoue.
Per Jaguars.com, “The Jaguars registered two sacks on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last week, pressuring him on multiple occasions.”
Third Down: Keep Bortles upright – The Steelers did their own job of making life miserable for the Jaguars quarterback last week. The offensive line must do a better job of hold the point of attack. This means center Tyler Shatley will once again be asked to fill in for Brandon Linder.
I am more worried about the right side of the line where the Jaguars have had issues this season. Actually, the entire line has played poorly. This would be a week to redeem itself.
Fourth Down: Concentrate on this game – These Jaguars cannot worry about what’s happened in the past or what lies ahead. As Marrone said, this team needs to concentrate on one game at a time.
"“When you have lost this many games in a row, we are just focused on trying to win one game: this game right now,” Marrone said. “You can’t focus on anything else. We have to do whatever we have to do to go win a game.”"
A lot would have to happen for Jacksonville to make the playoffs, including winning their remaining six games and hoping other teams lose unexpectedly. It can happen. 1996 is proof it is not as farfetched as it seems.