In addition to welcoming back Nick Foles for Sunday’s battle at Indianapolis, the Jaguars realize there’s something much more significant on the line over the next couple of games- getting back into contention to win the AFC South.
Even though Houston leads the division and has won both matchups with the Jaguars, it’s still very realistic the Jacksonville could find themselves in good position come December. However, this week and next week will be critical as part of that.
The Jaguars will play the Colts for the first time on Sunday and then will play the suddenly surging Titans in Nashville next week. If the Jags are able to win both of those games and put their record at 6 – 5, they’ll be in great shape to perhaps challenge the Texans at the end of the year. Now, the Jaguars will be an underdog in both these matchups starting this week and it won be easy to win back to back on the road.
As for QB Deshaun Watson and Houston, yes, they drummed the Jaguars 26-3 in London, but they’re only two division wins are over Jacksonville. They lost three weeks ago in Indy and still haven’t played the Titans, at all. Plus, Houston has a difficult assignment Sunday at Baltimore. And, just like Watson, QB Lamar Jackson of the Ravens is on “MVP bid” himself. The Ravens already have wins at Seattle and over New England at home solidifying them as one of the top teams in football.
So, if the Jaguars take care of business with the Colts and the Ravens do them a favor by beating the Texans, then, the divisional lead will only be a game, headed for the final five weeks of the regular season.
Now, to kick off those games, Jacksonville will be playing the Bucs (12-1) and the Chargers (12-8) at home. Both very winnable against two teams with losing records that have to come to TIAA Bank Field.
Also, keep in mind that week 17 will have Houston playing host to Tennessee, while the Jags will entertain Indy, if the division is still on the line.
For, Jacksonville to have hope, it starts with winning these next two against South opponents away from North Florida.
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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