It’s game day! After an offseason of torture, it’s finally time to get back to football. The Jacksonville Jaguars are hosting the Kansas City Chiefs at 1 PM EST today, and it’ll be Blaine Gabbert’s first opportunity of the season to prove that he was actually worth a 10th overall pick in the NFL draft. Here’s five things the Jags need to do to start the season 1-0.
Run the ball
The Jaguars may be in the midst of trying to shift their offensive focus to a more balanced approach with an effective passing game, but for now, it’s still all about running the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew. If they can shorten the game with a strong rushing attack, the Jaguars will give their defense a chance to stay fresh.
Protect Blaine Gabbert
This is pretty simple. Blaine Gabbert struggles with pressure, so the Jaguars need to keep defenders off him. The Jags are better equipped now than they’ve been in years to do so, leading me to believe Gabbert may have some clean pockets to work from.
Protect Blaine Gabbert from himself
Apart from getting rid of the ball too quickly, Gabbert also likes to get rid of the ball off his back foot. The Jaguars will likely try to move him around in the pocket, and outside the pocket, to give him some easy completions early in the game. This, I believe, is a very good strategy to get him comfortable quickly.
Apply pressure to Alex Smith
Usually, the Jaguars can’t get a pass rush to save their lives. That has to stop. Alex Smith is an efficient passer that won’t make many mistakes, especially if he’s allowed to sit back in the pocket. The Jaguars have to make him uncomfortable.
Steal a score… or two
The easiest way to pull out a game against a better opponent is to steal some scores. I’m talking about a blocked punt, pick six, fake field goal, whatever gets it done. The Jaguars aren’t expected to be a great team, and they’ll need to steal points whenever possible, and today’s game is no different.