In these circumstances,
Jones-Drew, the Jaguars’ two-time Pro Bowl running back, said while playing on Monday Night Football means playing on national television in prime time – and while that makes any game a special game – considering the Jaguars’ circumstances there are bigger issues.
The biggest? Getting a victory.
And if that’s always the primary issue, after five consecutive losses, it’s an overriding one.
“It’s going to be a big stage, but we can’t see it as that,” Jones-Drew said as the Jaguars (1-5) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at EverBank Field Monday at 8:30 p.m.
“We have to continue to get better ourselves. I’d take a Wednesday day game to jumpstart something.”
If there’s a team in need of a start, it’s the Jaguars. After a season-opening victory over Tennessee, they have lost five consecutive games, and while the first loss came 32-3 to the New York Jets, the last four have come in sometimes heartbreaking fashion:
*A 16-10 loss to Carolina in which the Jaguars squandered a five-point fourth-quarter lead.
*A 23-10 loss to New Orleans in which the Jaguars held New Orleans 12 points under their season average.
*A 30-20 loss to Cincinnati in which the Jaguars squandered a three-point fourth-quarter lead.
*A 17-13 loss to Pittsburgh in which the Jaguars rallied after trailing 17-0.
“We feel like we’re playing pretty good football, but not making enough plays to win a game yet,” Jaguars linebacker
“We have a good team. We can prove on Monday night that we can go with the best. It’s going to be a good opportunity for us to be exposed.”
Said Jones-Drew, “It’s going to be in front of a lot of people, but we can’t see it as a big stage and then try to go out there and do more than what we usually do. We still have to go out there and be poised and keep our composure and just go out there and play. It’s going to be another challenge for us, but I think we’re up for it and we can’t wait to go up against them.”
The game is a match-up of two of the NFL’s top running backs against two of the league’s top defenses, with Jones-Drew having rushed for 572 yards and two touchdowns on 118 carries and Ravens running back Ray Rice having rushed for 398 yards and two touchdowns on 89 carries.
The Jaguars’ defense, after ranking No. 28 in the NFL a year ago, enter the game ranked No. 8, and after allowing 315 yards to the Steelers in the first half last week allowed just 55 in the second half.
“They’re a physical team,” Jaguars guard
The Ravens are ranked No. 3 in the NFL in total defense, and although the Jaguars have faced the No. 1-(Pittsburgh) and No. 2-ranked (Cincinnati) defenses in the NFL the last two weeks, Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said of the Ravens’ defense, “I think this one is probably the best of the three.”
The Jaguars’ offense, by contrast, enters at No. 32 in the NFL in total yardage, No. 32 against the pass. Jacksonville is averaging 12 points a game.
“We have to continue to get better ourselves,” Jones-Drew said. “Before we can worry about what Baltimore brings we have to give ourselves the best chance by executing the game plan to the best of our ability. That’s the first thing we’re worried about right now.”
The Jaguars enter the weekend two-and-a-half games out of first place in the AFC South, but Nwaneri – like Jones-Drew – said Monday’s game isn’t about rankings or standings or any peripheries.
“Everybody’s focused on getting a win,” Nwaneri said. “The coaching staff is doing a good job of keeping us focused on the right things, not allowing negative energy, not getting down on ourselves. We all realize this is going to be an electric game. It’s Monday night. It’s going to be high energy.”
And with the Jaguars needing a victory, Nwaneri said there’s no better time than prime time.
“What better opportunity to try to get things turned around than Monday Night Football, so everybody can see what we bring to the table when we execute and when we don’t make mistakes and give ourselves a chance,” Nwaneri said. “If we’re able to get a win, that can provide some momentum and provide some ease and turn things around.”
Said Session, “We want to have everybody watching us, to prove we’re a good football team. This is an opportunity for us to show that. We have pride. We won’t need this game as a picker upper or anything, but we will use it as one.”