JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After getting a big win against the Colts to start the season, the Jaguars have turned the page and are back to work preparing for another rival.
On Sunday, they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to face the Titans. Both teams are 1-0.
“We’re not looking back,” said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. “We’re only going to look to get better and what we can do today.”
To stay unbeaten, Jacksonville will have to prevail somewhere that it hasn’t had the best of success in recent years.
The Jaguars' rivalry with the Titans has been rather one-sided when the games are played in Nashville. Jacksonville hasn’t won in the Music City since 2013 but Marrone says he doesn’t worry about things like that anymore.
“What does that mean? That doesn’t mean crap,” Marrone said. “Before I used to look at things like that when you have a lot of guys returning and stuff, but I think, with this team, it’s such a different atmosphere”
One of the guys that will play a big role this week is safety Josh Jones. This is Jones' first year with the team and he seemingly came out of nowhere during training camp to earn a spot in the starting lineup.
Jones says his career has been filled with ups and downs but he is happy he landed here in Jacksonville.
“It’s been a long journey, kind of short in the span of four years, but it’s been tough," Jones said. "Now, I’m in a place where my coaches believe in me and it just makes it easier for me.”
In Week 1 against the Colts, Jones had six tackles. He may need to have a few more this week if the jaguars are going to slow down Titans running back Derrick Henry.
The Jaguars split with the Titans last season, winning 20-7 at home on Thursday night football and getting routed 42-20 at Tennessee. Henry, a Yulee High School graduate, rushed for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns in that game.
On Thursday, Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen said the concept to stop Henry is simple and that it’s just a little more complicated to execute it.
“Hit him hard, hit him fast, hit him early. Basically, just hit him as hard as you can before he takes off running,” Allen said. “It’s easier said than done, sure. But we have a good game plan this week, so we’re real confident on him and the offensive line. We play them twice every year, so we’re kind of used to that. And we’re just excited for this match up. Again, I feel like a lot of guys still are doubting us and our talent level on this team, on this roster, actually. It’s an exciting weekend, I’m excited to play against him.”
The Titans are 30-21 all-time against the Jaguars, including the first four games in that series when they were the Houston Oilers. Jacksonville is 9-16 all-time on the road against the Titans, with a 2-0 mark against the former Houston Oilers factored in.
The atmosphere will be very different on Sunday since the Titans won’t be hosting fans but that has not taken any of the pressure off of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. He said that he has been focused on all of the things the Titans will try to do to put pressure on quarterback Gardner Minshew II.
“I got about one hour of sleep yesterday watching all these blitzes from last year,” Gruden said. “Very tough to deal with on third down.”
Minshew, who was 19 of 20 passing for 173 yards and three touchdowns in the 27-20 win over the Colts, said he’s not as stressed as Gruden about the matchup.
“I have slept a little bit better than him,” Minshew said. “We are going to put the work in, but I need my sleep.”