The Jaguars have lost three of their last four contests. In the three losses they've averaged just nine points per game. NINE. That's just about as low as you can fall as an NFL offense.
Sure, things have been stacked against them. The offensive line, running back, and tight end positions have been bombarded by injuries. But with your starting QB, and a talented group of young receivers things should never have gone this haywire.
Still, this team has a chance to turn things around this Sunday at EverBank Field against a divisional opponent in the Houston Texans.
The Jaguars will have a good chance to get off the snide if they follow three simple steps.
1. RUN THE FOOTBALL
This is most important. For some reason the Jaguars coaching staff has almost completely abandoned the run in recent weeks. It never helps the running game when your team gets down big early, but abandoning the run clearly isn't working. Last week against the Cowboys the Jaguars rushed the ball just 18 times as a team. The week before in Kansas City? 17 Rushing attempts.
The identity of the Jaguars offense is running the football. It's not as if they haven't been successful in doing so, that is, when they've actually tried in recent weeks. Leonard Fournette has been absent with a hamstring injury, but his back up, TJ Yeldon, is more than capable of carrying the load. Against the Cowboys and Chiefs he combined to average 5.2 yards per carry. But for some inexplicable reason he was handed the ball just 18 times total in those two contests combined. Are the Jaguars so worried about his ankle/foot injury that they will sacrifice winning in order to preserve him? It's not as if there is a clear correlation between snaps played and aggravating an injury.
Regardless of whether or not Leonard Fournette returns for the Jaguars this week, the team should make it a point of emphasis to pound the rock. Their week seven opponent, the Houston Texans, have been stingy against the run this year surrendering just 3.5 yards per carry and less than 100 yards per game on the ground. But that shouldn't deter the Jaguars from running the football in this one.
2. PLAY PRESS MAN
The Jaguars cornerback tandem of Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye are at their best when their allowed to play man-to-man defense. And they LOVE to press. In 2017, when both made the All-Pro list, the Jaguars ran a TON of press man with these two, even when the rest of the team was lined up in zone concepts. As Filip Prus pointed out, the Jaguars have largely abandoned press man on the outside in 2017 and I'm not sure why. But they would be wise to allow their two star corner backs to do what their best at: Playing a physical brand of football.
I'm not suggesting that all of the defensive woes have been due to a lack of press man, but I do think this defense is much better suited to play that style of football. Opposing QBs have to take more time getting rid of the football when the Jaguars are in press man, which leads to more mistakes and more time for the pass rush to get home. If the Jaguars return to this smash mouth style of play, things will get going in the right direction.
3. STOP FEATURING DONTE MONCRIEF
The Jaguars most inefficient offensive weapon, by a large margin, has been Donte Moncrief. He leads the team in targets, but has caught fewer than fifty percent of the balls thrown his way. I'm not saying the Jaguars can't use him in some capacity, but moving forward into week seven the Jaguars should focus their efforts in the passing game on Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and TJ Yeldon. Cole has hauled in 25 of 36 targets this year. Westbrook has hauled in an even more impressive 27 of 35 and Yeldon has been dynamite out of the backfield catching 25 of 33 targets, even after a performance in week one that saw him catch just three of the seven passes thrown his way. These are the playmakers the Jaguars offense needs to feature. And when they want to take a deep shot they should begin to look for rookie DJ Chark, the team's speediest and most gifted receiver. In recent weeks he's shown some ability to make plays down the field.
Mr. Hackett? Mr. Wash? Are you there? Can you hear me?
If so, please take my advice and get back to your winning ways.
I whole heartedly believe that if the Jaguars are able to follow the steps I've just laid out form them then they will be able to turn things around. Of course, it won't be that simple. The Jaguars need to play a more physical and mentally tough brand of football on both sides. And on defense they need to reduce the miscommunications in a big way.
What do you think? Will the Jaguars get it turned around this week?
Recent history suggests that they will. The Jaguars were victorious in both 2017 contests against the Texans and have won eight of their last nine games (including the playoffs) at EverBank Field.
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