JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars will try to end their four-game losing streak on Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Although both of their wins have come away from their home stadium, the Jaguars have looked out of focus this year on the road. Playing in London has become routine, so beating Indianapolis there wasn’t that big of a surprise. For most of the game against Chicago, the team couldn’t get out of their own way, only to be saved by Arrelious Benn’s TD catch in the 4th quarter. They were outclassed early in San Diego and in Tennessee and turned the ball over four times in their loss at Kansas City. Ford Field in Detroit doesn’t have a reputation as a tough place to play but without a fast start on a fast track, the Jaguars could be looking up at the home-standing Lions all day.
This week Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said he was trying to get quarterback Blake Bortles to “calm down” when the routine pass play looks like it’s going to work. “The wide receivers are getting open and then Blake just needs to deliver that instead of getting over-excited and doing too much. It is just a regular play. It is just a regular thing. If we can get him to calm down just as when he runs out of the pocket or if it is just a nice, easy completion for a 10-yard gain then we have to get that to transition that over to the deep ball.” If the Jaguars can make the “regular thing” happen they’ll keep themselves in the game against Detroit.
Both Chris Ivory and T. J. Yeldon have similar stats through nine games of the season. Ivory didn’t play in the first two contests so his numbers are a little deceptive. He also has the longest run from scrimmage at 42 yards. Yeldon is good with the ball in space, especially catching the ball out of the backfield. Ivory though seems to be the prototypical back that gets better the more carries he has in the game. When they signed him in free agency, the Jaguars thought he’d be a “gap” runner and Yeldon would be a “zone” runner. But the offensive line has struggled to create gaps in specific spots so giving the ball to either back a couple yards deep in the backfield and letting them pick their spots seems to be the team’s best option. Ivory is running with a little more purpose at this point so give him the bulk of the carries.
Giving the ball to the Lions will get the Jaguars beat in Detroit, especially if they turn the ball over early in the game. But more importantly, the Jaguars defense has to start coming up with the football. They’ve had a couple of chances in the last few games but couldn’t make the play stick when they had an opportunity to create a turnover. The turnover drought on defense is nearly record-breaking so when the team talks about making them happen “in bunches,” now would be a good time. Matthew Stafford will give the defense some chances, especially if they can pressure him in the pocket. Create a couple of turnovers and some short fields for the offense and the chance to win is greatly increased.