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Keys to the Game: Chargers vs. Jaguars
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Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the Jacksonville Jaguars:
“Any week, any team can win in this league. But the parity in this league is too good. The NFL has the best players in the world. Week in and week out, if you don’t play your best football game, you have a chance of losing. It happens to everyone. We have all been on that side before as coaches or players. You could be one of the best teams and if you don’t play your best then you can get beat by someone you never should have lost to. The parity is too good. They are well coached. They have some good players. We need to go out there and take care of what we need to take care of. You can’t ever let up and we have a challenge ahead of us.”
2. Bottle Up Blackmon – As I documented in depth on Thursday, the Jaguars stats through six games, particularly on offense, are very misleading (LINK). A big reason for that is the return of Justin Blackmon from suspension. In his two games since getting back on the field, the
“He’s a very explosive player. The last couple of games have been big for him. I believe he was targeted 20 times against Denver last week. It showed you what they think about him, his talent and the type of player he is. He is very explosive, so we have to make sure we know where he is on every snap.”
3. Pound the Rock Again– Last week was a revival for the Chargers rushing attack (link), running for 147 yards total led by Ryan Mathews 102. It was San Diego’s best rushing game since Week 2 of 2012, and Mathews’ first 100-yard game since 2011. Now they need to establish that the ground game is here to stay. The Jaguars rank last in the NFL in rush defense, surrendering 152.5 yards on the ground. As such, Philip Rivers hammered home the importance of a strong running game to balance the offense and open things up in the passing game:
“It’s huge. The more balanced you can be, the better off you’re going to be. It goes without saying. Obviously it helps you in some of the play action stuff, but it helps create even more eight man boxes which opens up some things on the outside. It’s key for us. I think even in the games against Dallas and Philadelphia that we won, the threat of the run was there and we ran it well enough. Running it well doesn’t mean you have to have a 100 yard rusher, which was awesome that we had, but we ran it well enough in those games that even when we were in the up-tempo no huddle stuff, it still kept us balanced which allowed for some of those big plays in the passing game.”
4. No Mo for MoJo – Maurice Jones-Drew has had a slow start to the season, but he’s still a dangerous back that is ready to bust loose for a breakout game at any given
“It’s going to take 11 guys tackling him. That guy can run the ball. One guy is not going to tackle him. If he gets to our secondary, you definitely have to take his legs out from under him and get low, because he can power up, drop his shoulder and get a few extra yards.”
5. Buck the Trend – The team has alternated wins and losses every other game thus far. As McCoy stressed, the Chargers have the opportunity to buck the trend this weekend against the Jaguars heading into a Week 8 bye.
“We’re trying to win every game as quickly as possible and right now the Jacksonville Jaguars are next on the list. We have to go in and win. As a football team we have to put up two in a row. We have been up and down. We have to be more consistent in all three phases and go on the road in a tough environment in a short week and do whatever we can to find a way to win the game.”