JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars are locked in as the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, but coach Doug Marrone isn’t going to be resting starters in Sunday’s season finale against Tennessee.
It’s not just because of the way the team played in last Sunday’s 44-33 loss at San Francisco, either.
“Make no mistake about it, just so there is not a lot of talk during the week, when the players come in tomorrow [Wednesday]: We are talking about how we are going to play to win and do everything we possibly can to win this game. Period,” Marrone said. “I am not even thinking about what happens beyond that and that is the way we are going to go about our business this week.”
The outcome of the Jaguars-Titans game has significant playoff implications. The Titans (8-7) can clinch their first playoff berth since 2008 with a victory. The Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens are fighting with the Titans for the two available wildcard spots. All three of those teams need the Titans to lose or tie to have a chance to make the playoffs.
Marrone said it wasn’t a hard to decision to not rest his starters, even though the team’s top two receivers (Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee) are dealing with ankle injuries and running back Leonard Fournette has dealt with ankle and quad injuries this season that kept him out of games. Marrone’s approach with the players has been to break the season into quarters and emphasize winning each quarter.
The Jaguars are now 2-1 in the final quarter (victories over Seattle and Houston) and beating the Titans would accomplish the goal. It wouldn’t be right to throw that goal out, Marrone said.
“I knew that it was going to be a question,” Marrone said. “I knew that it would be asked. When we go over the games and everything and I said, ‘We are going to bounce back and we are going to work our asses off this week and we are going to go out and win this game and win this quarter.’ That was pretty much the conversation and there wasn’t, ‘Are you sure?’ There wasn’t any wavering from anyone of what we want to do and what we want to accomplish this week.
“We are 100 percent all in on winning this football game.”
The Jaguars (10-5) clinched the AFC South last Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams beat the Titans. That game ended in the first quarter of the Jaguars’ game in Levi’s Stadium, and the Jaguars were already trailing the 49ers 10-0.
That was pretty much the only thing that went right for the Jaguars, who played their worst game of the season. They defense allowed 38 points, gave up 131 yards rushing, and allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to complete 21 of 30 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Blake Bortles threw a season-high three interceptions (including a pick six) and running backs Fournette and T.J. Yeldon combined to average just 2.7 yards per carry.
The Jaguars also committed a season-high 12 penalties, including three for unsportsmanlike conduct or unnecessary roughness.