JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars haven't fared well against the Titans lately. The last time the Jaguars went to Tennessee and won was 2013. Here are my four keys for the Jaguars to beat the Titans on Thursday night:
The Jaguars offense, under either Cody Kessler or Blake Bortles, has not been consistently explosive. In Sunday's win, Kessler led the Jaguars to two field goals and no touchdowns. The defense was so good that it didn't matter. The offense can't expect the defense to play that way every week, so not turning the ball over becomes a huge focus, as it has been all year for the Jaguars. In a game expected to be a low-scoring affair, taking care of the ball is paramount.
Every drive doesn't have to end in a touchdown, but three-and-outs can hamstring the Jaguars chances to win. Even if a drive picks up a couple of first downs, it does two things: lets the Jaguars defense rest and helps the field position game. Bortles said that he approached the game thinking that any drive ending in a kick was good. Now, Kessler should be thinking about his job as being measured on one thing: get first downs. Long sustained drives that end in field goals are fine. These two teams want to play the same way and field position matters.
Take the points
If a coaching decision faces Doug Marrone and there is an option to go for it on fourth down in field goal range, he should kick the field goal. Josh Lambo has been ultra-reliable this year and points have been precious in this matchup recently. Take the points. The Colts learned the lesson the hard way last week when they took 3 points off the board when Taven Bryan was called for roughing the snapper.They took the first down and were stuffed shy of the goal line later, and it might have changed the game. Take the points.
Third down defense
It seems that whoever the Titans have at quarterback, dating back to the late Steve McNair, third down conversions have changed the game. Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota isn't a big threat in the deep passing game, but he can keep plays alive with his legs and has a knack for make plays in the open field. The Jaguars need to stop drives before they get going by getting off the field on third down.