The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost three of the last four to the Tennessee Titans, sit at 4-8 on the season and are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and out of the AFC South race. Realistically, the Jaguars aren’t playing for anything but pride and that could come into play against a team like the Titans.
The Jaguars were swept by the Titans last season, despite winning the AFC South. That prompted the Titans to talk a lot of trash about how the Jaguars were kind of fake division champions because they didn’t beat them. The Titans beat the Jaguars again, 9-6 at TIAA Bank Field, earlier in the season and talked a bunch of trash after that game too.
The Jaguars can get some revenge on Thursday Night Football and play spoiler for the Titans 2018 playoff and division hopes, but in order to do that they’ll need to score a lot more than six points.
The Jaguars shut out the Colts on Sunday, meaning the six points were enough to win, but starting quarterback Cody Kessler said he wanted to take some more shots down the field but was also trying to be mindful of not messing it up for the defense with a mistake like a turnover.
“Obviously, yeah,” Kessler said on Tuesday when asked about taking more chances down the field in the passing game. “But like I said after the game – when your defense is playing so well … You want to take shots as much as you can and put up some points, but when your defense is playing so well, you want to be smart with the football, protect it. When it’s a tough defensive game like that, it comes down to who is going to make the lesser amount of mistakes, and we did a good job of winning the turnover battle and playing well and kind of finishing that thing out. “
Kessler completed 75 percent of his passes against the Colts, but a large portion of those were checkdowns and passes to the running backs. Part of that was because the Colts play a lot of zone so it was there, but a lot of it was because Kessler was playing it safe and not wanting to turn the ball over. There were a few seam routes he passed on to hit the check down against the Colts.
That’s not going to work against a team like the Tennessee Titans and Kessler knows that, even going so far to seek out star cornerback Jalen Ramsey after the game to thank him for the shutout and vowing to put some more points on the board.
“When the defense holds them to zero, you want to put up touchdowns. You want to score points and as the quarterback of an offense, that’s on me first,” Kessler said about his comments to Ramsey. “Like you said, there is stuff that we want to improve on and you want to give them [the defense] the comfort level of them knowing, ‘Hey, they’re going to go out there and score some points.’ That’s something that we want to improve on this week.”
The offense on Sunday wasn’t good at all, but it didn’t make the huge mistake that has often plagued the Jaguars this season and sucked the life out of the team. What they did Sunday won’t be close to good enough going forward and we’ll need to see Kessler take more shots down the field instead of playing it safe and hitting the dump off to the back.
The Titans will play a lot more man coverage and load up to stop a returning Leonard Fournette, which should provide some one-on-one chances for the Jaguars receivers. The question will be can the line hold up protection long enough for them to win the battle and will Kessler uncork the football and make the throw.
At this point in the season most fans are about the NFL Draft positioning, but right now I want to take a hit to the Titans season.