Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines: An Inside Look at the Jaguars


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – So, we meet again.
The Titans (2-9) and Jaguars (4-7) face one another for the second time in three weeks on Sunday at Nissan Stadium. The Jaguars beat the Titans 19-13 on November 19 in Jacksonville.
The Titans are coming off a 24-21 loss to the Raiders on Sunday, while the Jaguars lost 31-25 to the Chargers.
This week, I caught up with Ryan O'Halloran, who covers the Jaguars for the Florida Times-Union. You can follow Ryan at @ryanohalloran.

Wyatt:Hey Ryan. Seems like we were just talking about this game. With these games so close to one another, who has the edge in your mind?
O'Halloran:I think it's going to be both offenses. There's only so much you can do to change things up on defense without getting away from your core stuff, and the Jaguars don't run a lot of different things on defense. So I think Marcus Mariota is going to have a big day. You saw signs of it in that Thursday night game. I was very impressed with his poise and his pocket presence and the way he was able to get out of trouble. I think he is going to have a big day against this Jaguars defense.
Wyatt:What was the feeling like in Jacksonville after the Thursday night comeback win over the Titans, and how sinking of a feeling was it when the Jaguars lost to the Chargers on Sunday?
O'Halloran:After that game there was a lot of confidence in that locker room, because they did some poor things in the Titans game, but they were still able to find a way to win, which is something the Jaguars hadn't done for a couple of years. And the biggest reason they had confidence and they were excited is they looked at the division and they were one game out, so it was in their hands. If they kept winning, they could stay in contention for the division title. But the San Diego loss was crippling to their chances in the division. They're now two games back from Houston and Indy. I think it's going to be very tough on this team's confidence, because they played a San Diego team that had lost six straight and they were outclassed. The score was six points, but it wasn't that close. San Diego did whatever it wanted on offense, and I just think the Jaguars are going to have a tough time recovering from that loss.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 11 in Jacksonville. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

Wyatt:A few weeks ago, you said the Jaguars-Titans game was the biggest game in the Gus Bradley era. The Jaguars won that game, only to lose to San Diego. What's the perception of Bradley and the coaching staff there now?
O'Halloran:The perception among the fan base is they're disappointed that his background is on defense, and this team can't create turnovers and they can't rush the passer and they can't take advantage of teams that were supposed to be struggling. San Diego was minus two offensive linemen, but it didn't matter -- Philip Rivers picked them apart. Inside the building, this is a big game for Gus, but I think he is in good shape unless you go 0 and 6 down the stretch, and then you are 4 and 12 again and you had meaningful games in November and December and you squandered those chances. So if I am the Jaguars front office and ownership, I want to see a better finish from this team. I think the feeling outside the building is more pessimistic toward the coaching staff than there is confidence inside the building.
Wyatt:You mentioned the Jaguars are now two games back in the AFC South, but they have upcoming games against the Titans, Colts and Texans in the division, and contests against the Falcons and Saints. This has to be considered a must-win for the Jags doesn't it?
O'Halloran:This is the last stand, this is a must win, this is the last chance. Any phrase you want to use, it fits. If the Jaguars lose on Sunday, they are done. A win would keep them at the worst two games out with four to play, but a loss could make them three games out with four to play. Just the mathematics of it would make it tough, but just the psyche, you would have lost to a team that's 2 and 9 and hasn't won at home in over a year. This is it for the Jaguars on Sunday. If they win they at least give themselves some hope. If they lose, they're done. *
* looks back at the all-time series against the Jacksonville Jaguars.