Nissan Stadium Nightmares
The Jacksonville Jaguars visit Nashville, Tennessee this Sunday to take on the Titans. Nissan Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Jaguars since 2013. They have six consecutive losses in Nashville by a total of 67 points. This includes an embarrassing loss at the hands of Titans running back Derrick Henry two years ago. But it’s 2020, and the Jaguars and Titans, albeit early, sit at the top of the division. The winner of this game will have a chance to jump into the driver’s seat of the AFC South. There are three offensive keys for the Jaguars to escape Tennessee with a win.
Keeping Minshew Clean
Despite a victory in week one, the Jaguars offensive line struggled periodically to protect quarterback Gardner Minshew. The Colts were able to get to Minshew four times with three coming on critical third downs. However, the good news is that the quarterback can be responsible for three of them.
This week the offensive line squares off against a pair of quick defensive ends. Vic Beasley and Jadeveon Clowney will look to pressure and harass Minshew. The offensive line has an opportunity to prevail as both Clowney and Beasley are hobbling with injuries. Additionally, Minshew needs to learn from his week one performance and make quicker decisions.
Sunday is an opportunity for the Jaguars wide receivers to showcase their speed and go deep. Wide receivers D.J. Chark, Chris Conley, and Laviska Shenault Jr. will have a chance to create separation downfield. The Titans secondary is nursing injuries and can be exploited early and often.
Now is the time for offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to open it up down the field and let it fly. Time for Gruden to be aggressive with the ball, no matter the score. Minshew should have a clean pocket to survey the field and take his shots. If the Jaguars can hit on a couple of big plays, more options become available for Gruden’s offense.
Although the offense showed signs of a makeover during the week one victory, the Jaguars struggled to extend drives. In fact, they only ran 47 offensive plays in week one. That was enough to be 32nd or last in the NFL after week one. Almost 17 plays less than their average in 2019.
This lack of offensive output will be detrimental against the Titans on Sunday. The offense needs to be efficient and keep Henry and the rest of the Titans offense on the sidelines. Additionally, this will help the defense as the game progresses. Despite only yielding 20 points against the Colts last week, the defense surrendered 445 yards. That’s a chunk of yardage. The turnovers and opposition’s miscues will not always be there for the young defense. It is up to Minshew and the offense to dictate the pace of play and prolong drives.
Grab Some Popcorn
Hard to believe that a game in week two has so much riding on it. Yet it does in so many ways. Time to find out if the Jaguars will continue to be competitive in the AFC South in 2020. Offensively, these three keys could provide another surprise victory for the Jaguars in Music City.