Jaguars keys to victory against Chargers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t won on the west coast since 2004. Here are a few keys for them to end that losing streak this weekend against the San Diego Chargers.

Put pressure on Philip Rivers:

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 5-1 all-time against Jacksonville. He hasn’t just won against the Jaguars, he’s dominated. In San Diego’s last three games against the Jaguars, Rives has averaged 320 yards passing with a total of eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Against Green Bay the Jaguars game-plan was to keep Aaron Rodgers in the pocket. A new quarterback means a new approach this week. “It is a situation where we hope to pin their ears back and let those guys rush and show exactly how athletic they are,” said Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash early this week.

This will be a week where the Jaguars find out exactly what they have in defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue. If Wash holds true to his word, those two will be able to get up the field and cause havoc. If Fowler and Ngakoue are able to rush from the outside that will force Rivers to step up in the pocket, where he’ll have to deal with Malik Jackson and Sen’Derrick Marks.

Keep Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead under control:

With Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen out for the year with an ACL injury, Rivers will be forced to spread the ball around. His two favorite targets will likely be tight end Antonio Gates and running back Danny Woodhead.

During this game last year, Gates had two touchdown catches. The Chargers were able to isolate Gates on Jaguars safety Jonathan Cyprien, which is an advantage for San Diego. It will be interesting to see if the Jaguars find a role for rookie linebacker Myles Jack this week.

“We will figure that out as we go through the week here to figure out where our best matchups are and if Myles is the guy that gives us the best opportunity then obviously we have to get Myles on the field,” said Wash.

Jack didn’t see a single defensive snap against the Packers. He has the speed to match up with both Gates and Woodhead. Perhaps this is the week he provides a boost to the Jaguars defense.

Establish the run game:

The Jaguars have been preparing all week as if they wouldn’t have Chris Ivory available. Now that Ivory has been ruled out against San Diego, Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson can tailor the game plan to the strengths of running back T.J. Yeldon.

“Certainly our run game is a big emphasis for us this week,” said Olson. “We will be more physical and we need to be productive with that part of the game. We went into that game against Green Bay knowing that that would be a big part of trying to limit the possessions that they would have on their side of the ball. We were committed to the run, but we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be in the run. It is a big emphasis this week.”

In addition to Yeldon, expect Denard Robinson and Corey Grant to have plays designed for them as well. Last week the Jaguars managed just 48 yards on 26 rushing attempts (1.8 avg). If the Jaguars establish the run that will open up the passing game for Blake Bortles and his bevy of receivers.