The Jaguars head to Nashville to take on the Titans this Sunday at 1 pm. The Titans have won 30 of the 51 all-time matchups between these division rivals. What's at stake? The winner will have an early lead in the division. For the Jaguars, it would mean a 2-0 divisional and overall record.
Let's take a look at ten things to know before this one kicks off.
Minshew is 1-0 against the Titans
That's right. In his lone start against the Titans during his rookie year, Gardner Minshew notched a resounding victory on Thursday Night Football. Minshew was an efficient 20/30 for 204 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs. Minshew had a similar, albeit more impressive, performance against the Colts last Sunday. Will he keep the magic alive in Nashville?
The Jaguars haven't won in Nashville since 2013
Yeah, about that. The Jaguars have lost six straight contests to the Titans in Nashville. The last time they beat their arch-nemesis in Tennessee was Dave Caldwell's first season as the Jaguars' GM. Blake Bortles was still dropping dimes at the University of Central Florida. So, yeah, it's been a long time.
Jaguars' QB Gardner Minshew isn't too worried about the streak in Nashville. "I don't know. I think you always try to get these streaks and things," said Minshew. "And people try to correlate things year after year. But I think in reality, every year is a new year, every week is a new week. I think a lot of times these trends are more superficial than like anything actually tangible. I think it's a challenge that we're looking forward to. We obviously don't want any streaks like that, but it's something we're all looking forward to."
The Turnover Battle
Both of these teams are 1-0. Both of these teams won the turnover battle in week one. In fact, neither team committed a turnover last week. But the Titans almost turned the ball over several times. QB Ryan Tannehill was dangerously close to throwing 2 INTs (one called back due to a penalty) and had two more passes batted at the line. AJ Brown nearly fumbled as well. The Jaguars will need to take advantage of the rare turnover opportunities that present themself this weekend.
Taking care of the football will be a tough task for Minshew and the offense. Players like Jadeveon Clowney, Rashaan Evans, and Kevin Byard will be on the hunt.
A Must: Slowing down Derrick Henry
It's pretty simple. Last year, when the Jaguars slew the Titans, they limited Derrick Henry's impact on the game as he carried the ball 17 times for just 44 yards. In Jacksonville's loss to Tennessee? Yeah, they gave up 159 yards and two touchdowns to the Titan's battering ram. The Jags don't have to hold Henry to 44 yards, but if he gets anywhere close to 150, it could be a long day for the Big Cats.
Jags will have new plays, offensive game plan
The Jaguars' offense ran like a well-oiled machine last Sunday. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden dialed up the right plays at the right times, and Gardner Minshew and the rest of the offense usually executed them to perfection. This week they take on a blitz-happy defense. Accordingly, Jay Gruden said they'll have a different game plan. "We played one game, we've got a whole new game plan for Tennessee, so new plays coming in," said Gruden.
The FG game
Last week, Titans' kicker Stephen Gostkowski made just one of his four field goal tries. One was blocked, and two he just straight-up miss hit. Gostkowski did make the game-winner, but his performance didn't exactly inspire confidence. For the Jaguars, Josh Lambo has been as reliable as any kicker in football. In week one, he made both his FG attempts and all three of PATs. Lambo missed just one FG, connecting on 97.1% of his attempts.
The Jaguars only registered 8 QB pressures on 47 dropbacks in week one. They'll need to be able to apply pressure much more consistently against the Titans. Josh Allen took full responsibility for the Jaguars' lack of pass rush against Indy and said he's ready to get that aspect of the defense amped up in week two.
Tannehill and Smith
Everyone knows about Derrick Henry and AJ Brown. But QB Ryan Tannehill and TE Jonnu Smith present major threats. Tannehill has been very efficient in his 11 starts for the Titans, especially in the play-action game. And Smith is emerging as one of the best young tight ends in the game. These two present a much different challenge than Philip Rivers and Jack Doyle did in week one. Smith and Tannehill are both supreme athletes. Rivers and Doyle? Not so much. This will be a whole new test for the Jaguars' defense.
Blitz pick up
As I mentioned before, the Titans likey the blitz. The Titans got pressure on Drew Lock on 30% of his pass attempts last week, but they failed to register a sack. They'll be anxious to get off the snide against the Jaguars. The Jags' O-Line will need to be ready to pick up blitzes, as will the running backs and tight ends to an extent.
Andrew "Dewey" Wingard will take Jarrod Wilson's place in the starting lineup. Wilson hit the IR after suffering a hamstring injury in week one, so he'll be out for at least three weeks. Wingard stepped in for Wilson in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars' week one victory, and all he did was intercept Philip Rivers and register the highest PFF grade of any safety in week one, albeit on just 13 defensive snaps. It was a small sample size, but the Jaguars' coaching staff has confidence in the 2019 undrafted free agent.
BONUS: No Fans
The Jaguars had about 17,000 fans in attendance last week, but at Nissan Stadium, there will be no fans. The Titans will pump in some fake crowd noise. How will this impact the game? I'm not so sure.
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