JACKSONVILLE – Consider this an opportunity. It’s big.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson this week talked about what makes Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans so important. The reason is simple, as Pederson sees it.
“You have to be able to win for your team,” Pederson said as the Jaguars (4-8) prepare to play the Titans (7-5) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday at 1 p.m. “You have to be able to take care of business there.”
The Jaguars haven’t done that lately, especially against Tennessee. They are 5-16 as a team since winning their lone AFC South title in 2017 and have similarly struggled against the Titans, winning one of their last 10 meetings and going winless in Nashville since 2013.
They have lost their last four games in Nashville by an average of 31.25-14.75, and the Titans won last season’s game there, 20-0.
The Titans have won the last two AFC South championships.
“Tennessee was on top,” right tackle Jawaan Taylor said. “It’s important to give your best, especially in those group games against the opponents. We have to play our best game and give everything we can .”
Important again, for the players this week: Not only do they show that they can play well and win against a good opponent in a difficult place, but to do so a week after they lost one side of the season – a loss 40-14 to the Detroit Lions. , a game in which the Lions scored on everything until they bowed out at the end of the game.
“It’s definitely not who we are,” Taylor said. “We want to come out and have a better week this week. We have to put it behind us.”
Pederson said, “I don’t know that it’s a requirement to ‘prove.’ I think it’s frustration, sadness, shame… ‘That’s what you put in the film?’ It’s everybody – the coaches, the players. That’s the way I heard it on Monday. Once you get through and focus on next week’s opponent, put it behind you and learn from it and get ready for another chance.
Pederson added, “It’s going to be my job this week to make sure everyone is there.”
Pederson in that sense called Sunday a game of equal teams, when the Titans lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 35-10.
“That’s not who we were last week,” Pederson said. “I know that’s not who Tennessee is, the game they had last week. They’re two teams that are probably a little upset.”
With the Jaguars trailing the Titans by three to five games, they have two games remaining against Tennessee – Sunday and Jacksonville in the regular season finale. The Jaguars would win the AFC South with wins in their last five games if the Titans lose any of the three other than the Jaguars – to the Houston Texans (1-10-1), to the Los Angeles Chargers (6 -6) and at home against the Dallas Cowboys (9-3).
The Jaguars play in Dallas and also visit the New York Jets (7-5) and Houston in addition to their remaining games against Tennessee.
“He runs out of opportunities,” Pederson said. “We have five games, three opponents and two games against the same team so you are looking up and you are running out of opportunities.”
Pederson added, “Do I believe we still have a chance? I also believe the players believe that. We say this all the time: ‘Control what you can control. It’s about us. Get ready.’ to win. Keep it simple.’ You can’t worry about the outside world, you can’t worry about what people say about you.
“You just have to put your head down, go to work and try to improve every week.”