Chicago Sun-Times

Keys for Bears and Jaguars today at EverBank Field

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The Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-11 last season, are off to a 1-3 start.

But the combined record of the three teams that beat the Jaguars is 11-4 and each team is at least tied for first place in their respective division.

Last week, the Jaguars were beaten at home by the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-10. The Bengals sacked Jags quarterback Blaine Gabbert six times, and the Bengals were 18 yards shy of 400 offensive yards.
It's unclear which Bears offense will show up, the one that looked potent in the opener and the victory in Dallas Monday night, or sloppy and lethargic in the other two games. But the Jaguars know what they can expect from the Bears defense, which is ranked high in a number of key categories.

"Don't turn it over, don't throw it to them, don't have missed communication with receivers and quarterbacks," Jags coach Mike Mularkey said. "We have to protect better than we did last week and catch the ball better and play like we're capable of playing.

"If we don't, the results will not be good, which we've already experienced."

Here are three keys for each team:

FOR THE BEARS
1) Get off to a fast start - A baby step. That's what the Bears offense took in Dallas. No, they didn't score on the opening drive, but they picked up three first downs and helped with field position. The second drive was a three-and-out, but the offense pieced together a 13-play drive in the second quarter that set up a 43-yard field goal.
2) Stop Maurice Jones-Drew on the ground - Even after holding out during training camp, the three-time Pro Bowl selection and reigning rushing champion has gotten off to a strong start. He averages 4.9 yards per carry, and he's got 352 rushing yards. He's a load to bring down out of the backfield, but the Bears will be content to let him continue to be Gabbert's top receiving target; Jones-Drew's longest catch has yielded just 13 yards.
MJD2.jpg

3) Run the rock - Give the Bears credit for sticking to the run (62 attempts), even if the yards per (3.24) haven't been overwhelming the last two games. There's no excuse this week since the Jags give up an average of 150.3 yards per game, the third-most in the league.

FOR THE JAGUARS
1) Help Blaine Gabbert - The 10th overall pick in 2011, Gabbert hasn't had a whole lot of help making a smooth transition to the NFL. He was sacked 40 times last season, and he's already been sacked a dozen times this year. And his top receiver? Jones-Drew because rookie Justin Blackmon has just 10 catches for 79 yards and Laurent Robinson - the team's big offseason addition - has just nine catches.
2) Get after Jay Cutler - Perhaps the most stunning - and discouraging - statistic about the Jaguars is this: they have just two sacks this season. To beat the Bears, a team has to pressure and beat up Cutler, and the Jags just don't seem to have the personnel to muster much of a rush.
3) Excite the fans - The Jaguars have all kinds of attendance issues, and the Bears fan base showed how well it traveled in Dallas. Will Bears fans make the trip to Jacksonville? It's not entirely clear, but EverBank Field could sound like Soldier Field, if the Jaguars don't give the home fans something to cheer about.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on October 7, 2012 12:06 PM.

Who is in and out for Bears vs. the Jaguars? was the previous entry in this blog.

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