Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cleveland Browns: 5 Halftime Adjustments Jags Must Make
Unless you count bragging rights.
And given the natural geographic rivalry between Cleveland and Jacksonville, well, let's just say that the stakes aren't the highest we've ever seen on the professional gridiron. Nevertheless, the game must go on, and so must the analysis.
Of course, there's also a chance for a rare "W" on the line for two struggling teams, and that means plenty to the competitors.
The Jaguars aren't in last place in the AFC South, but that's only because the Indianapolis Colts lost their all-world quarterback and have subsequently been unable to win a game...yet. Thus, Jacksonville has been saved the humiliation of the cellar despite "boasting" a 3-6 record, which is powered by one of the league's most anemic offenses and one of its most stifling defenses.
Given that backdrop, it should come as no surprise that the first half has been a low-scoring exercise in offensive futility, with the game tied at 7-7. The good news for Jacksonville is that the outcome is still up for grabs.
With these five halftime adjustments, the Jags can get their fourth victory of the season:
1. Let Blaine Gabbert Air It Out
OK, so this might not be the best recipe for a Week 11 win, but it's in the best interest of the club to take the training wheels off rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The kid has some nice physical tools, but he hasn't shown many of them through the air because a conservative approach has been employed to protect the youngster.
But this season is lost in Jacksonville so might as well kick the tires on the new toy.
2. Pour Out a Little MJD
The Jaguars have one bonafide offensive weapon and it goes by the name of Maurice Jones-Drew. The pint-sized running back might not be physically imposing at first glance, but the mighty might is a stud of enormous proportions. He's that rare triple threat—a workhorse back who's also explosive and adept at catching the pigskin.
So use him early and use him often.
3. Clean Up the Laundry
The Cleveland Browns almost have no chance to win this game on their own. Between a weak offense and the rash of injuries, the Browns are underwhelming when left to their own devices.
The Jags, however, helped them on more than one occasion in the first half with dumb penalties. Tighten up on the flag front and it should be smooth sailing for Jacksonville in the second half.
4. Play the Pass
Jacksonville has had little trouble keeping the Cleveland ground game in check. Considering many of the aforementioned Brown injuries have plagued the rushing attack, that's not staggering news.
On the other hand, quarterback Colt McCoy and the passing assault have found a few creases. The Jags should start cheating to play the pass and risk a few big gainers on the ground.
5. Check for a Mercedes Lewis Pulse
Once upon a time, Jacksonville tight end Mercedes Lewis was a player on the rise.
Thus far in 2011-12, he's been heading in the opposite direction, but the dude is a monster will physical tools to spare. This season might be one to forget for the big man, but the Jags aren't really playing for this season anymore.
So it's a perfect time to try to get Lewis back into the fold and salvage what's left to build on for the future.
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