Jaguars vs. Raiders: 5 Keys to Winning in California
Historically, the Jaguars do not travel well to the west coast. Fresh off a bye week, where coach speak told the media and Jacksonville's fans that head coach Mike Mularkey wants to see changes in the Jaguars' offense (like Blaine Gabbert running more out of the pocket), the team travels to Oakland to face the Raiders.
Not the best way to start the second part of your season when you then move on to Lambeau Field and a date with the Packers next week.
Something tells me these will be the same old Jaguars we have pained through over the last six weeks. There may not be enough gauze to stop this bleeding. Try as they might, Blaine Gabbert, Maurice Jones-Drew and the rest of this team will try to erase poor offensive output and a defense with more holes than Swiss cheese.
This game will speak volumes as to how this team will play the rest of the seasons. Because the Raiders have a decent passing game with Carson Palmer and a potentially potent running game with Darren McFadden, it could be a long day for the men in black (the Jaguars, not Oakland).
Here are five keys to a Jaguars win on Sunday.
Involve Marcedes Lewis Is the Passing Offense
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The UCLA graduate would be a big help against the Raiders' secondary. Seeing the tall, burly tight end running across the middle is am imposing sight.
Gabbert to Lewis could be a difference maker in this game and could be a difference maker as the season progresses.
The one thing the Jaguars did that was more successful in the Jack Del Rio era was have David Garrard find his security blanket when in need of an escape route.
Lewis was a Pro Bowl player two years ago. Mike Mularkey used Tony Gonzalez effectively in Atlanta and should try to do the same thing with the talented Lewis.
Run MJD, Run
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It's the mantra we have seen be used from the first day he returned to the team after holding out.
Maurice Jones-Drew is still the workhorse of this team. As long as the passing game remains woeful, the running game will be front and center.
This is a game where I think MJD will have a huge performance. He is returning to his home state and has been quoted in years past of wanting to play in California if presented with the opportunity. I am sure playing in front of friends and family will excite the human bowling ball.
It could lead to a huge game for the Jaguars meal ticket.
More Defensive Pressure
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Never has one person meant so much to the defense.
Daryl Smith was ruled out against the Raiders and has not played a game since suffering a groin injury in the preseason.
Smith is a tackling machine. He and Paul Posluszny would help close the gap in the middle of the defense that has been continually brutalized this season. Right now, Kyle Bosworth and Russell Allen have filled in but have not made a direct impact.
Rookie Julian Stanfield has had his moments.
Hopefully, his on-field leadership will also help inspire the 29th-ranked defense in the league.
Control the Line of Scrimmage
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On both sides of the ball.
A lot of the offensive issues had a lot to do with injuries. The week off may have given the line a chance to gel more. It also meant Eben Britton, who has played sporadically, has had more time to adjust from his injuries.
If the Jags can get to the quarterback on the defensive side, it will help the linebackers and secondary make more plays.
Gabbert Needs to Step Up
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You see an inkling of progression and then a pitfall of regression.
Will the seesaw ever balance?
Gabbert shows off his strong arm every once in a while. Then he cowers and hides in the pocket or falls victim to a sack.
Gabbert is a mobile quarterback who may be asked to run more and make plays out of the pocket. I say let him air it out and see if Justin Blackmon or Cecil Shorts can run under it.