The Kansas City Chiefs return home to Arrowhead Stadium this week, licking their wounds after two straight losses.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, they will be hosting a Jacksonville Jaguars team that is so banged up that they may start a QB who hasn’t thrown a pass in a regular season NFL game since 2005.
Still the Chiefs must be careful. Banged up or not, the Jasonville Jaguars are still an NFL team and they have the weapons to do some damage. Let’s take a look at 5 keys to beating the Jaguars.
1. Stop MJD, Stop the Jaguars
I like David Garrard. If he was going to be playing I would be much more worried about this game. Garrard is big and tough and hard to bring down. I think of him as the poor man’s Ben Rapelessburger. He has the ability to extend plays and give receivers time to break off their routes and get open. It helps him make up for a lack of pocket-passing talent.
As such, Garrard is not playing and it looks like there is a good chance Trent Edwards won’t be playing either.
That means the Jags will essentially have no QB. That means their already mediocre receiving core is even more mediocre.
That leaves Maurice Jones-Drew as their primary weapon. MJD is a human battering ram and the Chiefs need to make sure they don’t let him knock them over. A running back having a huge game can carry a team to victory. Just ask the Denver Broncos what Jamaal Charles did to them in the season finale last year. The Chiefs were inferior to the 09’ Broncos but Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson beat them all by themselves. Kansas city can lose this game to just a couple of Jaguars if they lose focus.
If the Chiefs can continue their relatively stout run defense, I see this game shaking out much like the 49ers contest. If they lose focus, MJD will make them pay and pay dearly.
Stop MJD, Stop the Jaguars.
2. Keep on Running
The Jags do not sport a good defense. They are 20th against the run and 28th against the pass. The Chiefs need to resist the urge to pad Matt Cassel’s stats in this one. It is important to build Cassel’s confidence but not at the expense of a win. The Chiefs likely won’t need to score 35 points to beat the Jaguars. While the passing game worked well last week against Houston, it was necessary for the Chiefs to be able to throw the ball to win. That isn’t the case this week.
The Chiefs need to stick to what they do best, which is running the football. They proved they can run on anyone last week when they torched the then 5th ranked Houston run D. KC needs to come out early, establish Charles and Jones and the passing game will come as a result of the running game.
Haley and company need to avoid getting cute here.
3. Secondary Stay Home
One way the Chiefs can hurt themselves in this game is if the safeties get happy feet and bite on a couple of play fakes to MJD. Todd Bouman may be a QB off the street but I am willing to bet even he can hit Sims-Walker if he is wide open, 20 yards behind the nearest defender.
There is no need for Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis to be coming up to the line of scrimmage. The Jags receivers are not dangerous and Bouman isn’t going to start squeezing passes into tight windows. They need to stay home, stay in coverage and trust the linebackers and defensive line to take care of Jones-Drew. It will be much more damaging for the Jags to get a quick touchdown then it will be to allow MJD to break off a 15-yard run or two.
4. Maintain Focus
This is a game the Chiefs should win easily but they had better be careful they don’t beat themselves.
Other than a defensive breakdown late against a very good Houston offense, the Chiefs have played pretty solid and consistent football. They really haven’t had a “bad game” yet and they need to keep that streak alive against the Jags.
That means taking care of the football, not getting stupid penalties and playing smart on special teams.
If the Chiefs lose focus and come in to this game expecting to win it could be a disaster.
5. Stop MJD, Stop the Jaguars
Yes, #5 is the same as #1. If Todd Bouman really does start, I just can’t see the Chiefs losing this game unless MJD beats them by himself. I am not trying to disrespect any of the other Jaguars players here but all of their good players on offense, save MJD, are neutralized without a QB and their defense just isn’t good enough to stop the Chiefs running game.
The Chiefs will be the most talented team on the field Sunday. They just need to play like it.
Alright Addicts, those are my keys to victory. What are yours?