The Jacksonville Jaguars remain confident while not getting too
caught up in their modest second-half turnaround.
They’ll try for their first four-game winning streak in six
seasons Sunday while looking to hand the reeling Buffalo Bills a
fifth consecutive year of double-digit losses.
Jacksonville (4-9) has won three straight for the first time
since 2010 and four of five after an 0-8 start. Though the Jaguars
will attempt to win four in a row for the first time since Sept.
16-Oct. 14, 2007, first-year coach Gus Bradley wants his team to
continue its progression while maintaining some perspective amid
the franchise’s sixth consecutive season without a winning
“Our guys just really believe,” Bradley said. “The biggest
challenge is to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re a young team
that’s learning how to do this.
“I don’t want us feeling like we did some good things, we
accomplished some things. We’re getting better and we still have a
lot of work to do.”
Jacksonville has averaged 23.0 points in the last five games
while facing four opponents with losing records, including two
against a Houston team mired in a franchise-worst 11-game slide.
The Jaguars averaged 10.8 points over the first eight while playing
five opponents that currently have winning records.
Last week’s 27-20 win over the Texans snapped Jacksonville’s
seven-game home skid.
However, a favorable second-half schedule hasn’t stopped the
Jaguars from calling out members of the media or opposing players
who have put down a club that lost 20 of 21 before winning 29-27 at
Tennessee on Nov. 10.
“They still talk trash about us,” said Maurice Jones-Drew, who
rushed for a season-high 103 yards on 14 carries last week. “We are
going to keep getting better and we are going to keep making plays.
We are going to keep doing our thing and be happy for everyone
Jones-Drew, who has rushed for 264 yards and 5.2 per carry over
the last three games, likely won’t be available Sunday to follow up
on his big game. He was listed as doubtful Friday due to a strained
hamstring after seeming optimistic earlier in the week that he’d be
ready to play.
Jones-Drew isn’t the only hurting Jaguar. Safety Johnathan
Cyprien is also doubtful with a thigh injury and receiver Cecil
Shorts is questionable with a groin injury that’s plagued him for
much of the season.
If Jones-Drew can’t go, Jordan Todman likely will start and
versatile rookie Denard Robinson could see more time in the
backfield. Todman caught a 21-yard TD pass from receiver Ace
Sanders last week.
Chad Henne has thrown four TD passes in the last two games, the
same total he had through his first 10.
The Jaguars allowed an average of 161.8 rushing yards through
the first eight games but 70.8 per contest in the last five.
Buffalo (4-9) was held to a season-low 67 rushing yards while
falling to 1-5 on the road with a 27-6 loss at Tampa Bay last
Sunday. The Bills held a closed-door meeting following their fifth
loss in six games.
This is Buffalo’s ninth straight losing season. One more defeat
will give the team a fifth year in a row of reaching at least 10
defeats and sixth consecutive last-place finish in the AFC
“I think you look at where we stand right now, you can question
everything,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “Everything’s a
red flag. Everything’s discouraging right now. But we have to get
guys, all of us, to respond and respond better.”
That likely begins with rookie EJ Manuel, who remains the
starter even after he threw four interceptions and was sacked seven
times while guiding an offense that totaled a season-low 214 yards
against the Buccaneers.
Manuel has endured a rough rookie season in which he missed four
games with a knee injury. He’s been sacked 24 times in nine
contests while completing 57.8 percent of his passes with nine TDs
and eight INTs.
“Do I want to be standing here having to go through these pains
of what’s going on? Absolutely not,” first-year coach Doug Marrone
said of Manuel’s play. “But I’ve learned over the years that this
is the stuff you go through. And you have to just put your head
down and just keep working.
“He has the ability to do it. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Manuel is 0-4 in road games and the Bills have lost their last
three, averaging 246.7 total yards while being outscored 85-33.
Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, held to 34 rushing yards on 16
carries at Tampa Bay, combined to run for 186 yards during
Buffalo’s 34-18 home win over Jacksonville last season.
Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso is questionable for Sunday after
suffering a setback in practice Friday. Coach Doug Marrone says
that Alonso, who was limited in practice earlier in the week,
”tweaked” his knee Friday.
The rookie has been a standout in his first season and is second
in the NFL with 131 tackles.
”Talking to him, in his mind he wants to play,” Marrone said.
”We’ve got 48 hours and we’ll see how it goes.”