With a possibility of the return of Marcedes Lewis in the near future and a defense that looks like it may have turned a very small corner last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars go into Sunday’s game with a touch of confidence - more so than it has had at anyone one time this season.
There are no “moral wins” in football and reaching double digits in points and tightening up on defense in the secondary against the Denver Broncos may have looked better on film, but it was still a loss for the team that is now 0-6 and still searching for all kinds of answers.
Gus Bradley and his staff have been working to accentuate the positives of an offensive line that is moving forward and not yielding sacks at a record clip.
Sunday is a new story and with the Chargers in town, there are plenty of good things to watch from both teams. San Diego has a rejuvenated Philip Rivers on hand and a defense that held Indianapolis to nine points on Monday night.
The Chargers have to deal with Justin Blackmon, and possibly Cecil Shorts, provided he is cleared to play from clavicle injury he suffered in the first quarter in Denver. Can Maurice Jones-Drew continue to move forward earning his first 100-yard rushing game of the season? And can Paul Pozluszny continue to be the glue that holds the defense together?
If the Jaguars are to win, these three things have to happen.
Contain the running game
Ryan Mathews ran for 100 yards earlier this week. Can the interior of the Jaguars' defensive line hold him in check?
As a duo, I like Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller. I want to see more of them. Denver did not have the horses to have a stable running game. The Chargers have more of a stable running game to make that happen.
Spread the field with receivers
If anyone has been asleep, Justin Blackmon is on the field for the Jaguars. That means his 19 catches and 326 yards is about to get a little bigger. If the Jaguars can make him the primary target again, it means the other receivers like Shorts, Mike Brown and Ace Sanders might have big numbers.
If Blackmon is open across the middle, he will catch everything in his way. It could also help Clay Harbor, the team’s tight end and maybe Lewis if he plays.
Control the ball
The team cannot take possession and be off the field in four plays. If the Jaguars score early and often, then San Diego will be faced with playing a faster pace.
The Jaguars may finally be able to use the running game to establish the pass. This may also make things easier for quarterback Chad Henne - who I expect to have a huge game.