There were many words coming from the Jaguars’ locker room this week.
You heard that this team must continue to fight, work, believe. You heard talk of moving forward, of not using injuries as an excuse, of 0-2 not being the end of a season, and how around the NFL things rarely are as bad as they look.
All of which was expected. It’s what you get in the wake of disappointing losses.
But if any moment set the tone for the week, it may have come Monday afternoon when cornerback
Mathis said that while all of the things the Jaguars were saying were true, they can’t be saying the same thing in a week.
This week, the conversation has to change. This week, the conversation can’t be about working and improving. It needs to be about winning.
He said there’s no reason it can’t be. He said the Jaguars are doing enough right, and there’s enough talent in the locker room. He said despite injuries the things that must be done can be done, but the part about the conversation needing to change?
That’s the most important part. The time is now to win. Not because the opponent, AFC rival Indianapolis, was 2-14 last season, or because of a perception that this is a winnable game.
The time is now to win because this team has worked hard, and it did good things in the offseason, and because they’re a better team than they showed last week, and because they’re a better team than many in Jacksonville and around the nation believe.
The Jaguars believed it in the offseason, in training camp and the preseason. They believed it before the first two regular-season games, and the belief remains.
If the Jaguars prove they’re right – and they believe they will – the conversation Monday can change. Here are 10 things the Jaguars must do against the Colts to ensure it does:
1) Pressure Luck. This is basic and it’s true against any NFL quarterback, particularly a rookie. Rookie quarterbacks can look good and bad from week to week and within the same game, but the more pressure, the worse they look. The Jaguars have two sacks this season. They need more against Andrew Luck Sunday.
2) Shut out the noise. All preseason, the Jaguars heard how good there were. All this last week, they heard how bad they are. Neither opinion matters. Shut out the noise. Always shut out the noise.
3) Get open. The Jaguars didn’t do it enough against the Texans. Rookie
4) Get healthy. This is more a week-long thing than a Sunday thing. There are probably going to be some game-time decisions Sunday. The Jaguars need a few of those to go their way.
5) Protect Gabbert. If
6) Stop the run. The Colts aren’t the Texans and Vikings and Donald Brown isn’t Arian Foster or Adrian Peterson. But Brown can break a long run on any play. Don’t let him, and don’t let him be effective on early downs, either. Put Luck in 3rd-and-long.
7) Get ahead early. The Colts won last week and make no mistake: they think they’ll win this game. The Jaguars started fast and were in it the whole way against Minnesota; we all know how they started against Houston. Get a good start. Make the Colts and the crowd doubt themselves.
8) Convert third downs. Another oh-fer will mean another loss. Can’t avoid that fact.
9) Run MJD. I was actually accused of not giving
10) Find a way. Things may not be pretty Sunday. With a young quarterback and a new offense, that’s often the case. Who cares how it looks? This team needs to focus. It needs to make plays early. It needs to do whatever it takes to stay alive and stay competitive until it gets healthy. Whatever it needs to do – whatever that takes – find a way Sunday. Get a victory and figure out how to get healthy later.