The Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) return to EverBank Field for the first time in nearly a month. Riding a two-game win streak, it is nice to type that, the Jags host the Oakland Raiders (4-2) this Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Raiders travel to the East Coast again after falling last week to Kansas City. Oakland is 3-0 on the road, two of which have been one-point victories. Let’s see if Jacksonville can carry that fourth-quarter momentum in Chicago to the first quarter Sunday, which has been a major weakness for this team.
It will be the eighth time these two organizations will meet. The Jaguars lead the series, 4-3. The Raiders have won the last two in this AFC West-AFC South series, but the Jags are 2-0 versus the Black and Silver in Jacksonville.
The teams faced each other in Gus Bradley’s first season. A 19-9 Raiders victory was the outcome on Sept. 15, 2013. Chad Henne got the start for an injured Blaine Gabbert. Darren McFadden ran for 129 yards on 19 carries, and Maurice Jones-Drew went down in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Let’s hope this Sunday is a lot better than the Jags’ 34 rushing yards in that 2013 matchup.
Humble-brag to Raiders fans:
We had Jack Del Rio first. His hair was better a decade ago (still great though).
Don’t have to watch a football team play on a baseball field.
The Jags aren’t leaving the First Coast.
Connections to River City:
The Jaguars second head coach (2003-11) in franchise history, Jack Del Rio returns to the First Coast after being fired in 2011. JDR had this to say about his former NFL city: “Lot of fond memories, lot of good people there, lot of friends and our family gets back there (Jacksonville) quite a bit so from that standpoint, it’s always good to go compete against the people that you went up against.”
Former Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson has been reunited with Del Rio this season. Nelson, a former Florida Gator, was drafted by the Jaguars in the 2007 first round.
Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Greg Olson worked with Raiders QB Derek Carr during Senior Bowl week in 2014. On learning from Olson, Carr said, “He is the one that trained me. He trained me to play quarterback in this league, just as he is doing with Blake (Bortles).”
What to Watch:
The Jaguars run game. We have had to watch old highlights of Fred Taylor, Natrone Means and Maurice Jones-Drew. Where is the running attack?
How the fans at EverBank Field energize this team. The last Jacksonville game was nearly a month ago in the loss to the Ravens. The fan base is yearning more Ws.
Tyson Alualu will play in his 100th NFL game Sunday. Whether it is the shorter do or being a healthy scratch in the early weeks, Alualu is playing surprisingly well. He has been a portion of why the Jags have a top-five defense.
Trying to Figure Out:
Is this real life from Marquise Lee? The third-year receiver is healthy. He also has seven more catches this season than he did last year, and he has achieved that in five less games.
If Kelvin Beachum (knee) cannot go Sunday, what in the world do the Jags do? On Thursday, Bradley said it was “nothing serious.”
It was a topic after the losses to Green Bay and Baltimore. Does this team know how to win? They have managed back-to-back victories. Can they make it a trifecta, which would be the first time since Bradley’s first year? Has a winning culture been developed?
About the Opponent:
The Raiders have played good football and squeaked out some tight wins. Head coach Jack Del Rio has a good offense, led by Derek Carr and fun-to-watch receiver Amari Cooper. They will be in a tight race with Denver and Kansas City for the AFC West title.
Talk of a move to Las Vegas can overshadow what the Raiders have done to improve. For as strong as the offense can play and be in sync, the defense is abysmal at times. They have given up 26 points or more in all but one game. The Jaguars will not have bad weather, like Oakland had last weekend, to help them like the Chiefs did.
JDR has a physical offensive line in Oakland. The Jags interior defensive line will see double teams, Sen’Derrick Marks, Malik Jackson and Roy Miller. Jacksonville’s d-line has been a consistent positive for Jacksonville. Sunday will be a challenge with a Raiders team that has gone 3-0 on the road. Jags defensive coordinator Todd Wash said it well: “it is going to be a war between the two” lines.
This Equals a Win:
Rocket science, this is not. Go hurry-up offense even more. With that, Bortles can look like he did in the last 16 minutes in Chicago.
Points have to come earlier this week. And the Jaguars have just two first-quarter touchdowns in five games.
Force turnovers. At the very least, it will keep us from hyperventilating in the fourth quarter. But Carr has gotten better at protecting the ball.
How to Listen:
Frank Frangie, Tony Boselli and Jeff Lageman will provide the call on 1010XL and 92.5 FM with Rick Ballou working the sidelines. The Publix Tailgate show begins three hours before kickoff. The simulcast will be on WGNE 99.9 FM.
Where to Watch:
A 1 p.m. CBS kick that you can watch on CBS and locally on WJAX 47. It is the second time in the last three games Greg Gumbel and Trent Green will be in the booth for a Jaguars game. Jamie Erdahl will provide sideline coverage.