The Jaguars are preparing for their second of three straight home games to start December. The Seattle Seahawks are coming to town, fresh off a 24-10 drumming of one of the league's best teams, the Philadelphia Eagles. At 8-4 the Seahawks are as tough as they come. Even without three defensive stalwarts Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman, and Kam Chancellor - who were all lost this season due to injury - the Seahawks defense is playing at an extremely high level. On the offensive side of the ball the Seahawks are led by Russell Wilson, who has already found the end zone 29 times this season.
The Jaguars will look to hold serve at home, where they've won three straight games. But how can they take out the former Super Bowl champion Seahawks?
I'm here to answer just that. So let's get to it!
1. Get in Russell Wilson's head early.
Russell Wilson is one of the most unflappable quarterbacks in all of football and is at his best when the Seahawks need it the most - especially in the fourth quarter. So how can the Jaguars get him off his game? The same way the Packers, Redskins, and Falcons did before. All three teams were able to beat the Seahawks this year by hitting and sacking Russell Wilson multiple times. By keeping constant pressure on Wilson those teams made it difficult for the star QB to complete passes. In all of the Seahawks losses this year Wilson has been held below his average completion percentage. The Jaguars can replicate that by playing their normal game. Aggressive pursuit of the QB by the defensive line, while also staying gap sound, will be key for the Jaguars. If Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Co. ever needed a big time performance this would be the week to bring it. The Seahawks offensive line hasn't exactly been spectacular this season, but Wilson is a master escape artist that knows how to get rid of the ball. Despite being hit 93 times already this season Wilson has only been sacked 28 times. The Jaguars need to get to him early and often to try to throw off his rhythm.
2. Make the plays that are there on offense.
The Jaguars offense has shot themselves in the foot time and again this season. Marqise Lee, Marcedes Lewis, and Keelan Cole are among the league leaders in drops. Their QB Blake Bortles has been far from mistake free in 2017 himself. Last week, against the Colts, the receivers were making big time plays and Bortles was making precise throws all over the field. It was the best game of Bortles' career. The Jaguars face a tough test against the Seahawks, who have the best free safety in football Earl Thomas. The Jaguars simply need to take what's there on offense and not beat themselves with untimely drops or poor decisions at QB. I'm not suggesting Bortles not take shots if they are there, but merely expressing that he shouldn't force the ball down field unless it's there because this secondary can capitalize on his mistakes. It's much easier said than done, especially against such a talented defense, but Bortles and his wide receivers need to play a clean game, especially with the rushing attack struggling.
The Jaguars have done a decent job finishing game this year, but the best team in the NFL at finishing is the Seahawks. Thanks in large part to the heroics of Russell Wilson the Seahawks have been one of the very best teams in the NFL in the fourth quarter. As good as Russell Wilson is in quarters one trough three, he takes it to a different level when the game is on the line. The Jaguars can't have a mental collapse in the fourth quarter on defense. Bortles can't throw the untimely interception at the end of the game (see Jaguars vs Chargers, Jaguars vs Cardinals). On top of finishing the game strong the Jaguars defense needs to finish plays. In the Jaguars loss to the Jets the team struggled to finish plays on defense and it directly lead to the Jaguars losing that game in embarrassing fashion.
The Jaguars have a tough task this weekend, but if they can successfully get after Wilson, make the plays that are there for them on offense, and finish game then the big cats will have a good shot at earning their fourth straight win at home.
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