Four Down Territory: How the Jaguars beat the Titans
By David Levin
As the teams get ready for their second meeting of the year, the Jacksonville Jaguars may be playing for pride. The Tennessee Titans are still playing for a playoff berth.
Jalen Ramsey never minces words. So when he was asked what it is like to play against the Tennessee Titans and their quarterback Marcus Mariota, the cornerback let the media know this week how he felt about the matchup for the Jaguars, calling it “super-challenging.”
Yes, playing against the Titans has been a challenge the last three times these teams have met and each outcome has gone way of the Jaguars opponent. This time, with a victory last week to end one of the worst periods in team history, Ramsey and his cohorts will have to not only contain the athletic Mariota, but a running game that is balanced if not explosive.
Jacksonville has an opportunity to finish the final quarter of their season on a positive note and in the process, disrupt the Titans chances of making it to the postseason. It was believed these two teams, along with Houston, would battle it out for the division title and playoff berths. Times change, things happen. When these two teams get together, it’s as close to a slobberknocker as there is.
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This figures to be a low scoring game where both teams want to control the clock with the run game. If the Jaguars want to win, these four things have to happen on Thursday night.
First Down: Run the football – Give it to Leonard Fournette and take your chances. The Jaguars run game has benefitted greatly from their bell cow back returning. His fresh legs will be a real asset on first and second down.
The Jaguars need to run the football down the Titans throats. Just like in week’s past when double digit plays were called in a row to tote the football, the offense should give Fournette 30 touches this week.
Look for quarterback Cody Kessler to use the running backs out of the backfield on passing downs as well.
Second Down: Take chances down field – Kessler should challenge the Titans secondary more often. He was efficient last week in the win against the Colts, but throwing the ball down field also helps the running game.
What I like about Kessler is his ability ro see the field and find the open receiver. He is also mobile enough to hit the short and intermediate routes. Let the wide receivers make space in the open field and allow their signal caller to find them to move the chains.
Third Down: Hurry the passer – Mariota is still a threat to run with the football, but if the Jaguars defense stops the run and makes him beat them with his arm, it plays into what this defense has wanted to do all season.
Look for Ronnie Harrison to have a big game at the saefty spot and Ramsey’s return home could mean another mutiple interception game. This defense is starting to finally put it togeher, although it appears to be a little too late.
Fourth Down: Take the ball away – It’s something this team did with regularity last season. This season, not so much.
Last week was the best game Myles Jack has played since Week 1 against the Giants. Telvin Smith looked inspired. Ramsey has played better the second half of the season.
"“It’s hard to see this not being key for the Jaguars the rest of the season, but it’s particularly key Thursday,” writes John Oehser of Jaguars.com. The best way to quiet a prime-time home crowd? Score defensively. Shock and awe."