JACKSOVNILLE, Fla. – Some weeks, it’s all about stopping the other team. Some weeks, it’s about finding a way to beat the opposing defense. This week, the Jaguars have the unenviable task of facing a team ranked in the top five in the NFL in both offense and defense.
When the Buffalo Bills (5-2) come to town, they bring with them the fourth-ranked scoring offense in the league and the number one ranked defense.
Let’s start with what the Jaguars have to face in the Bills defense.
They are ranked first in turnovers, scoring, passing yards, completions and touchdowns, total touchdowns, and first downs allowed. They are opportunistic and they are making plays all over the field this year. So, what do the Jaguars have to do to win? The answer: More than they’ve done all year on offense.
“We are always trying to score points, that is obviously the goal for us,” said Jaguars’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “Every drive that we have we want to finish with points. I do not know how much it changes the play-calling but we would love to be able to possess the ball, love to be able to get explosive plays, and really help the defense stay off the field.”
This season, the Jaguars have scored more than 21 points only once, that was in their 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins in London. Adding to the challenge is that the Jaguars may not have running back James Robinson this week. He has not practiced since sustaining a bruised heel in the first half of Sunday’s game in Seattle. Robinson ranks ninth in the NFL in rushing this season, despite the fact that he has fewer carries than any running back in the top 15.
“We have to go with next man-up mentality,” Bevell said. “We have confidence in Carlos and Dare [Ogunbowale] has done a nice job for us as well and we also have Ziggy [Devine Ozigbo] back with us. James [Robinson] is a loss and we want him in there. I do not think it is a final decision yet, you know we are still going to take it until the end of the week, but it is next man up mentality and we are going to go with those guys.”
As for the Bills offense, it starts with quarterback Josh Allen. He has thrown for 17 touchdowns, tied for fifth in the NFL, and he’s run for three more. He’s also only thrown three interceptions all year. To say the least, he’s a lot to handle and he will be job one for the Jaguars’ defense to slow down, when he is passing the ball or when running, something he has done effectively again this season.
“Once he gets steaming like north and south, he’s hard to bring down. I mean he’s just swatting guys left and right, so we have a major challenge. One, they’ve done a phenomenal job,” said Jaguars’ defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. ”He’s getting better every year and he can run the ball effectively, and I mean called runs, like on third-and-2, third-and-1, the option game, quarterback sweep, and he’s faster than you think. The thing with him, he makes the throws, and he can run. It’s going to be a major challenge. He’s one of the top quarterbacks in the league, obviously.”
Since losing to the Steelers on opening day 23-16, the Bills have scored at least 26 points in every game since. The Jaguars will have to have their best offensive day and their best defensive day if they are to upset one of the AFC favorites.