Talking Points – Jaguars at Bengals

Sunday, the Jaguars travel to Cincinnati to play the winless Bengals. The Jaguars are treating this game as a must win. They should. A win would drop them to 3-5 and all but out of the playoff race. Here are this week’s top talking points:

1. Re-establish the running game. Last week, David Garrard lead the Jaguars in rushing. If Jacksonville is going to win, that can’t happen. The good news is that the Bengals are ranked 28th in the NFL against the run. Then again, Cleveland came in to last week’s game ranked 26th.

2. Don’t be the first. As Fred Taylor puts it, “if you lose to [a winless team]…oh, man. You don’t want that.” The Bengals are without a win. Should the Jaguars lose this one, they could be on a slippery slope for the rest of the season.

3. Limit Big Plays. Nearly half of the yardage that the Jaguars gave up to the Browns on Sunday came on four plays. Many of those yards came after first contact as the Jaguars did not tackle well. Cincinnati has some talented offensive players, especially the wide receivers. T.J. Houshmandzadeh leads the NFL in receptions this year. Chad Johnson is always dangerous. The Jaguars must limit the plays of 20+ yards, especially on 3rd down.

4. Harvey’s Breakout? We keep waiting and waiting for rookie defensive end Derrick Harvey to make a difference. So far, he hasn’t delivered. When will it come? Will it come? Having Harvey get a couple of sacks would really help. The Jaguars have only nine sacks this year, fewer than Miami’s Joey Porter has by himself (10.5).

5. Matt Jones’ understudy. We continue to await word from the NFL on a possible suspension of Matt Jones. There is a chance that there will be no suspension following Jones’ appeal. If I had to bet, I would expect a one game suspension, but we’ll have to see. In the meantime, the Jaguars need to find someone who can make some plays in the passing game other than Jones. Last week, Dennis Northcutt made five catches, including several on third down. You don’t want Northcutt as your #1 option all year, but for a game or two, maybe he can pick up the slack. For now, Jones will be in there playing for the Jaguars.

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