With six games to go, the magnitude will increase all over the NFL for teams trying to make a playoff push. And that is definitely the case in Jacksonville, where Jags Coach Doug Marrone already knows his team’s play has got to be better starting this week in Tennessee.
Marrone essentially sounded an alarm Wednesday with the media that the Jags last two performances against AFC South competition haven’t been anywhere close to good enough:
Head Coach Doug Marrone meets the media. https://t.co/nuYGvfqLyU
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) November 20, 2019
On the heels of having lost badly to the first place Texans 26 – 3 in London three weekends ago, his team came off a bye week last week in Indianapolis and was decisively beaten, again, this time, 33 – 13.
We have to coach better, and we have to play better. We understand that. We’re upset. It’s not good enough. It starts with me. We’re going to fight our way out,” Marrone said.
“Like I told the players: ‘Take all that pissed off, which everyone should be, and don’t make it combative, but we have to be competitive. We have to play well. We have to have a lot of energy and we have to practice well.’”
Without specifically mentioning it in those comments, he’s including a Jacksonville run defense, which has given up 200 or more yards rushing in back-to-back games for the first time since 2012,
There is no doubt that the Jaguars want their defense to set the tone and yet they haven’t been able to stop either of their last two opponents. Now, they have another tough division test on the road coming Sunday.
The Jags will battle the Tennessee Titans this time in Nashville and the Titans have a new look under center. They’ve gone with veteran Ryan Tannehill, who the team got in a trade with the Dolphins in March and has replaced former #2 overall pick, Marcus Mariota.
Tennessee has been solid since Tannehill took over, winning three of the four games including an upset 35 – 32 of the Chiefs two weeks ago. And the worst news is that the Titans under Mike Vrabel want to pound the football with power back Derrick Henry between the tackles.
Henry has feasted on the Jaguars including a Thursday night win in Nashville last year that included one of the plays of the year in the league. It was a 99-yard touchdown run, where Henry broke numerous tackles and then ran away from the entire defense. It capped a 238 yard, 4 TD night for the Titans top weapon.
Jacksonville is battling injuries, like veteran Pro Bowler DE Calais Campbell’s injured back, but Marrone obviously knows they will get no sympathy from their rivals in Nashville.
And if the play of the defense and really, the team as a whole, does not improve? Then, the Jags are looking at three straight defeats to division foes and being 4-7, and the seat will get warmer under the third year head coach.
Jags coach Marrone acknowledged Wednesday he’s in jeopardy
As the Jaguars 2019 season has spiraled downward, their head coach acknowledged Wednesday that there are likely changes coming in North Florida.
Head Coach Doug Marrone meets the media prior to today's practice. https://t.co/Ks19PcB0te
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) December 11, 2019
“We’re all fighting for our jobs. When you look at it from that standpoint, each person has to make their own decision on how they handle those things….It’s a constant microscope in this league, but I think it gets magnified when you are not winning football games,” Marrone said plainly.
It’s no secret that the Jaguars are plummeting. Sunday they were embarrassed again at home, this time by the L.A. Chargers 45 – 10. That was the fifth consecutive decisive loss (by at least 17 points) for a team that was once 4 – 4 and in the conversation are the AFC Wildcard picture.
Yes, there are injuries including the team losing defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and recently linebacker Myles Jack to season-ending IR. The same on offense where WR Marqise Lee never got healthy and made contributions this year. He, too is back on injured reserve.
Further, the team also had to deal with the constant off field distraction and then decided to trade away arguably their best player, defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the LA Rams. Granted, Ramsey wanted out and was trying not to play while the trade was being consummated. Still, this missed him on the field and it was an issue.
Then, there’s the mess on offense, where the Jags offensive line is in shambles and Marrone had to bench high-priced free agent quarterback Nick Foles before last week’s game. That’s because of his ineffective play and lack of mobility to play behind their poor line.
Rookie Gardner Minshew, who had won four games earlier this year, didn’t do much with only 162 yards in the air and a late third-quarter touchdown that only cut the lead to 31 – 10 in the loss Sunday.
Further, running back Leonard Fournette has now been neutralized by the lack of good line play and the inability to get the passing game going. Fournette went from having a good start to the season that included three 100-yard or more games out of four in late September and October, to having five of his last six games where he has run for 50 yards or less.
So, everywhere you look, the Jags are struggling and losing, and owner Shad Khan is expected to make wholesale changes at the end of the year.
But for now, Jacksonville must go out to Oakland this week and try not to be further embarrassed there.
Jaguars injury woes continue- LB Myles Jack to IR
The bad news on the injury front for the Jaguars continued on Thursday, when they placed star linebacker Myles Jack on injured reserve.
Source: #Jaguars LB Myles Jack (knee) is going on Injured Reserve today. A hit to the Jacksonville defense.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Jack missed Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with a knee injury that was believed to be a sprain suffered in the loss to the Colts two weeks ago. However, the move to IR indicates it may be more serious.
The Jaguars season has unraveled over the course of the last month with injuries to their defense and the team trading away perennial Pro Bowl defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Rams. Jacksonville had already put DT Marcel Dareus on IR, All-Pro defensive tackle Calais Campbell has been trying to battle through a bad back and DB Tony Harrison has still not been cleared with a concussion.
Coach Doug Marrone has expressed the last two weeks that it has been a struggle for his defense with all of the injuries mounting late in the year.
As for Jack, he had settled in the middle linebacker roll after Telvin Smith abruptly retired in May.
Jack has been solid, but not spectacular, in the middle of the defense registering 7 or more tackles in five games this season. However he hasn’t forced a fumble, has only one interception and half of a sack. Jack also has just three tackles-for-loss at a position that often dictates much more output than that.
The former second-round pick out of UCLA had question marks about his knee coming out of college, when the Jaguars took him in the 2016 draft. However, he has answered critics on his durability by being active for all 59 games of his career up until last week.
Jacksonville will use veteran Donald Payne at middle linebacker for now. Payne played significantly last week against the Buccaneers and has been on and off of Jacksonville roster this season.
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