Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

December 14, 2018 at 5:05 pm.

Marrone wants better effort in final home game

Which defense is going to show up for the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday when they play their final home game of the year against the Washington Redskins?

That is the question the Jaguars face in this game between two teams that were blown out last week.

The Jaguars thought their defense was back when they pitched a shutout against the Colts in a 6-0 victory that ended a seven-game losing streak two weeks ago.

But then the next Thursday night, they were shredded by the Tennessee Titans, 30-9, as Derrick Henry ran for a Titans record 238 yards and four touchdowns on just 17 carries.

It included a 99-yarder in the second quarter and a 54-yarder in the third quarter.

The Jaguars were victims of poor tackling, especially on the 99-yarder when Henry kept stiff-arming defenders as he ran down the left sideline.

That is why tackling has been a major issue this week for the Jaguars, especially since they will be facing Adrian Peterson, who is always a threat to break a long one.

“We are going to put a lot of emphasis on tackling,” head coach Doug Marrone said of this week’s practice sessions. “You have a running back coming in here, Adrian Peterson, that has those qualities. Tough to bring down. Gets a lot of yards after contact and things of that nature. That is a challenge. We understand that. We can’t tackle like we did last week against this team.”

In reality, they can’t afford to tackle like that against any team.

Still, the Jaguars are a touchdown favorite because the Redskins were blown out Sunday by the New York Giants, 40-16. It was the Redskins’ fourth consecutive loss even though they are still in the NFC wild-card playoff hunt.

The Jaguars have an unsettled quarterback situation because Blake Bortles has been benched and backup Cody Kessler has put only one touchdown on the board in two games.

The Jaguars couldn’t even score with five snaps from inside the 5-yard line against the Titans. On the final play, Leonard Fournette was stuffed on fourth down from the 1-yard line after Marrone decided not to kick a field goal to cut the Titans lead to 7-5.

That set the stage for Henry’s 99-yard run and the Titans were in control the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, the Redskins’ quarterback situation is even more fluid. They are now down to their fourth quarterback, Josh Johnson. Their first two quarterbacks, Alex Smith and Colt McCoy, both went down with broken legs and Smith’s may be career ending.

They then went with Mark Sanchez, who was benched in the third quarter last week against the Giants for Josh Johnson, who hadn’t thrown a pass in a regular-season game since 2011.

It was garbage time when he came in, but he played well enough that the Redskins are starting him in Jacksonville. He passed for 195 yards and ran for 45.

It is also the last home game of the season for the Jaguars because they are playing their last two on the road at Miami and Houston.

It is likely to be the last home game for several Jaguars since the team is likely to make changes after the season, but Marrone didn’t want to speculate on that.

“That is too far down the road for me,” he said. “I am just worried about today, doing the best I can for the team today.”

His message is to give the fans a positive sendoff in the final home game of the year.

“I have talked to them about that,” he said. “It has been disappointing and we understand that. This is our last time to play at home. Let’s go out and give a good performance. We owe it to the fans. They have been through (this season) just like we have been through this season.”

Even though there isn’t much at stake except for pride and playing for jobs, he said, “For us, it is extremely important to go out there and play well and get a win.”

SERIES HISTORY: 7th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 5-1. The Jaguars only victory in the series came in 2002 when they won, 26-7. The teams have played three games since then, once every four years because they are in different conferences. and the Redskins won all three, the last time a 41-10 victory in 2014. This is the fourth time the teams have played in Jacksonville and the Redskins hold a 2-1 edge along with a 3-0 margin at home.