Preparations in Jacksonville this week for Thursday night’s matchup with the Houston Texans have been moved up a bit.
Practices have been more focused. Treatment for players more pronounced and the time frame to get a week’s work of study and field time has been shuffled into just three days.
The saving grace for this team might be the fact they are playing a team they not only met 12 days ago in Reliant Stadium, but they earned their second win on the season on the road.
While the Texans looked better in their loss to the Patriots on Sunday – a loss is a loss, and one that gave the AFC South rival its 10 defeat of the season, most in the NFL this season.
One of the keys to a Jaguars win this week will be the defensive and offensive line play. The defensive line will get a steady dose of rotation – as every lineman will play in the game, including Jeremy Mincey who was inactive the last two weeks for violating team rules.
Head coach Gus Bradley said he is “90 percent sure” Mincey will be on the field Thursday night at home – a game the Jaguars need to continue its current win streak of two games, and three of the past four contests.
Mincey was inactive for the Texans game and the Browns game for violating team rules. Mincey was not cut from the team as some media members had speculated, rather he was given a chance to prove his worth to the team while watching the Jaguars win back to back games.
The former Florida defensive end led the team in sacks in 2010 and 2011 before falling far from expectations of him in 2012.
The offensive line will again have to deal with their old nemesis, JJ Watt on Thursday night. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year looks to have another enormous game against the Jaguars. Tackles Austin Pasztor and Cameron Bradfield will be charged with not only blocking Watt but Whitney Mercilus, who also terrorized the backfield two weeks ago.
If the Jaguars are to win on Thursday night, here are three keys to a victory…
The short and intermediate passing game
Chad Henne does not need to throw for 300 yards for this team to win, but he needs to be consistent and manage the game for this team. That means Ace Sanders will play a huge role in the game this week. If Sanders and Mike Brown – if he is cleared to play – can catch the ball underneath and on the sideline, it opens up the deep pass to Cecil Shorts.
Mincey, Babin and others
All the defensive players – starters and reserves – must apply pressure to the quarterback. I suspect we may see a Matt Schaub sighting this week, which means a deep ball is possible with every throw. The Jaguars must apply pressure as much as possible and maybe use Paul Posluszny as well in blitz packages.
Maurice Jones-Drew looked really good last week running and catching the ball. Sooner or later he will get 100 yards on the ground. He is also being used in play action – which will free up Sanders and Shorts across the middle of the field. The Jaguars are at their best when MJD is the cog in the offense.