The Jacksonville Jaguars believed they made a statement by avenging their AFC Championship Game defeat in Week 2, only to fall flat in their next contest.
The Jaguars (2-1) look to pick themselves up after their first loss of the season when they complete a three-game homestand against the New York Jets on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field.
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Jacksonville has done itself proud following losses during head coach Doug Marrone’s time on its sideline, posting a 7-1 mark.
“The key to doing it is we had a productive Monday,” Marrone said of avoiding consecutive losses. “You can never say good day after a loss.
“We had a productive Monday where we looked at things and were able to address some of the things we need to get done, execution-wise, the football, the penalties, all the things that contributed to us not performing as well as we should. Coming in with a mindset of really being focused, really putting in the work and preparation. I have always said this and I truly believe it: ‘You have to put in the work and you have to put in the preparation, but you can’t make the mistake of not understanding that it is a performance-based business and you have to do it on Sunday.'”
The Jaguars mustered just 232 yards and 12 first downs in last week’s 9-6 setback to the Tennessee Titans without running back Leonard Fournette, who has missed two straight games with a hamstring injury.
Blake Bortles completed 21 passes for just 155 yards passing versus the Titans. Should the versatile Bortles match his completion total on Sunday, he would surpass David Garrard (1,406) and move into second place on the team’s all-time list.
The quarterback receiving more buzz is found on the opposite sideline in rookie Sam Darnold, albeit the news hasn’t been positive since the 21-year-old’s impressive debut in the season opener against the Detroit Lions. The third overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft is tied for the league lead with five interceptions — with two coming in New York’s 21-17 setback to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3.
“We’re on to Jacksonville this week,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said in a bid to turn the page. “The Cleveland game is a distant memory for me.”
Darnold will face a stingy Jaguars secondary, led by All-Pro cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Both of the Jaguars corners likely will play tight man-to-man coverage against the New York wideouts.
Isaiah Crowell had a pair of touchdown runs against his former team last week and is tied for the league lead with four rushing scores. Fellow Jets running back Bilal Powell had a career-high 190 scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown in his last encounter with the Jaguars — a 23-20 overtime win by New York.
Keeping the Jets running game in neutral will be one of the tasks faced by defensive end Calais Campbell, who said the season’s first quarter would be acceptable if the Jaguars win Sunday and post a 3-1 mark in the first four weeks.
“The goal is to win enough games to win your division and have your shot at the playoffs,” said Campbell, who collected a pair of sacks, five tackles, including three for loss, and two quarterback hits against the Titans.
“We break the schedule down by quarters and if you go 3-1 each quarter, that will put you in position to go to the playoffs. We’ve got to put this loss behind us and move forward from here. Good teams don’t lose two games in a row.”
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson echoed those sentiments. He said there was a huge difference in going 3-1 compared to 2-2.
“I believe in breaking the season down into quarters as well. You can’t look at the big picture; you have to look at small pieces,” Jackson said. “But it’s a huge difference going 3-1 from 2-2; it’s the difference in going from a great start to an average start. Hopefully we can go 3-1, that’s what we’re shooting for, but we’ve got a good team in front of us so we’ll see.”
Jaguars tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins likely would agree after spending last season with the Jets. The 25-year-old has reeled in three receptions in each game this season for the Jaguars and expects to play despite nursing a core muscle injury.