By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire
JACKSONVILLE – London’s calling.
It’s a song sung by The Clash, and it’s Jacksonville’s current battle cry.
Over the past 10 years, it’s been an invite for the Jaguars. Many believed it would be their future home. Through the past nine games, they have a 4-5 slate across the pond.
This Sunday, the Jags will play the Falcons at Wembley Stadium in what may be a welcoming site for them.It’s the first of a two-week stay there with Buffalo coming into town next week.
After last week’s 37-17 debacle against the Texans, getting out of Jacksonville and the country may be a cure all. It wasn’t pretty and it certainly wasn’t expected.
Apparently the Jags began to read all their press clippings. Yet, there were the missed opportunities against the Chiefs two weeks ago.
Right now, it is a combination of both.
Head coach Doug Pederson had taken the responsibility upon himself, as he will call plays from now on. That brings us to the situation of the team being more creative and utilizing all their weapons.
From the loss to the Texans,the Jags learned that you just can’t show up.
Against the Falcons, they have to, Last week was a must win, but now it is desperation time.
The Jags need to use Calvin Ridley’s playmaking abilities against the Falcons, especially since he has three games under his belt. That will be a challenge, considering Atlanta has the league’s fourth-best pass defense allowing 170 yards per game.
Trevor Lawrence had a mediocre game last week, but he found tight end Evan Engram seven times.
Travis Etienne had the workload expected for him with 88 yards on 19 carries. The Jags need to find more carries for D’Ernest Johnson and Tank Bigsby., after they combined for five last week.
But the Jags will certainly need to mix it up, giving a further nod to the running game. Atlanta’s defense is 18th against the run allowing nearly 188 per contest.
However, this one will be on the defense.
The Jags’ secondary was burned for 280 yards and a pair of touchdowns from rookie C.J. Stroud, one being a 68-yarder. They are ranked 27th, giving up an average of 264 per game.
But Falcons’ quarterback Desmond Ritter threw for just 139 and was sacked seven times in a 20-6 loss to the Lions last week. His quarterback rating was 7.32.
The Falcons’ dynamic young running back tandem of Bijan Robinson and Tyler Algeier were held to just 44 yards.
On that note, the Jags’ run defense has been stingy, allowing 86 per game, fourth in the league.
The Jags’ special teams took a few blows last week when they allowed an 85-yard kickoff return and kicker Brandon McManus uncharacteristically missed two field goals.
Atlanta has been to London only twice, the last time beating the Jets in 2021. They aren’t as familiar with the surroundings and environment as Jacksonville, easily considered as a second home for them.
Jacksonville needs to feel at home and secure in Big Ben’s town now more than ever. It’s time to adjust and refocus from last week.
So, get out your tea, smashers, and crumpets for a Sunday morning 9:30 kickoff.
For the Jaguars’ sake, they have to answer.
(Jeff Moeller writes for the Forida Sports Wire and SportsDay)
(Photo by Zach Tarrant, Houston Texans)