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10 things: Titans vs Jaguars

Posted Nov 23, 2012

10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Tennessee Titans Sunday...

We’re long since past “fluke.”

Two or three games and maybe you write it off as coincidence, but at five, you figure maybe there’s something to this home and away thing facing the Jaguars.

Five home games – five one-sided losses; five road games, three overtime losses, a victory and a hard-fought loss at Green Bay.

Weird.

But as many ways as you might analyze what is going on with the Jaguars at home this season, and just why they have been so much better away from EverBank Field, one overriding truth remains:

It needs to change, and it needs to change now.

It’s not supposed to work this way in the National Football League, and it’s sure not supposed to work this way in Jacksonville. This is a market, and a fan base, that loves its team – national misunderstanding and misrepresentation notwithstanding.

So, as the Jaguars prepare to play the Tennessee Titans at Everbank Sunday, that’s the focus. It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback, and it doesn’t matter what you do to improve the pass rush, and a secondary that sure better be improved this week.

Whatever you do, you need to play well in front of the home fans, and beyond that, you need a victory. And while we’re on the subject, here are 10 things that must happen to make that happen:

1. Stop Chris Johnson. He’s not as productive as a few years back, but when playing well, he’s still one of the most dangerous backs in the NFL – and he has played really well during the last month. You can stop him over and over and over again, but all he needs is one play because he’s one of the few backs in the NFL who is truly a threat to score on every play.

2. Get a lead. How best to limit Johnson’s opportunities? Get a lead, and force the Titans to pass. The larger the Jaguars’ lead, and the longer they’re ahead, the fewer drives on which Johnson can be a factor.

3. Protect the quarterback. Chad Henne will start for the Jaguars, but it doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback, he needs time. The Jaguars did an admirable job in this area against the Texans, and as a result, Henne had enough time to make throws against what at the time was the NFL’s No. 2-ranked defense.

4. Catch the ball. The Jaguars did it better against the Texans than they had all season, and what do you know? Even though they still had five drops, they had their best offensive day of the season. That’s no coincidence. Whoever the quarterback, when you catch catchable passes, the offense is oh-so-much better.

5. Keep throwing downfield. Blaine Gabbert, in retrospect, didn’t do it enough. Henne replaced Gabbert, did it more, and earned the starting job. Henne gave Justin Blackmon a chance to make plays downfield, and unlike when Gabbert tried those throws, Blackmon made plays on the ball.

6. Rush the passer. The Jaguars have had periodic success pressuring the passer this season, but those periods have been far too few and far between. C.J. Mosley had two sacks last week, but the Jaguars need pressure off the edge and haven’t gotten it nearly enough this season.

7. Cover. The Jaguars allowed 527 passing yards last week. That was the second-most in a single game in NFL history. Part of that was the lack of a pass rush in the second half, but Andre Johnson ran far too free and he wasn’t the only one. The Jaguars need to find a way to cover for an extended period, because while Jake Locker isn’t Matt Schaub, nearly any NFL quarterback can throw to open guys.

8. Establish the threat of the run. The Jaguars haven’t rushed for more than 100 yards in a game since Week 3, and they haven’t gotten real close. That’s part of why the offense has been struggling, but with Jalen Parmele rushing for 80 yards against Houston, the Jaguars at least made Houston worry about the run. That helped put the Jaguars in positive passing situations. You don’t always have to run, but you have to make the defense believe you can.

9. Win special teams. The Jaguars gave up a long punt return and a long kickoff return against Houston, and big plays in this area have been too common. Bryan Anger made a memorable tackle to save a touchdown the other day, but you don’t want Anger being your best player in any area, particularly not tackling.

10. Do something, anything... to break out of this home funk. If the Jaguars were losing big everywhere, you wouldn’t blame the home-field thing. But the Jaguars could easily be 4-1 on the road. *Four and one,* for goodness’ sake. Compare that to five losses by double digits or more and it’s easy to conclude the Jaguars aren’t awful, they just can’t figure out how to function at home. Time to get it figured.

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