JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Zero points. Less than 200 yards. Quarterback benched down the stretch. Five-time Pro Bowl receiver a non-factor.
Coming off their ugliest game in nearly eight years, the Las Vegas Raiders spent the week regrouping in Florida and trying to get right.
No one probably would choose to play the embarrassed and motivated Raiders right now. Jacksonville doesn’t have a choice.
The Raiders (2-5) and Jaguars (2-6) will meet Sunday with both teams reeling — Las Vegas from a 24-0 shutout at New Orleans and Jacksonville from a winless October that resulted in a five-game skid and new levels of frustration.
“I would expect a different Raiders team this weekend,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said.
The Raiders are counting on it. They traveled to Bradenton, Florida, to avoid two more cross-country trips and practiced all week at IMG Academy. It might serve as a chance to eliminate distractions and get back to playing the way they did while averaging 33 points in their previous three games.
“I’ve been a part of a couple of these, and I’ve always felt like for the team it’s a good thing,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “As long as everyone’s mindset is trying to get better, not like, ‘Oh, man, I wish I was home’ — that kind of thing.
“That hasn’t been the case, so I think it’s always been a good thing for a team to get better as a football team and to be closer to one another.”
Jacksonville has its own problems. The Jags are 0-6 in one-score games, including last week’s 21-17 loss to Denver in London. It may have been a get-right game for the Broncos, who had dropped four in a row. It also may have been an eye-opener for Pederson’s team, which had plenty of conversations on the transatlantic flight home about how to break out of its slump.
“You don’t put on a smile and act like everything’s all right,” Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “It’s not. We’ve lost five in a row, and everybody’s (ticked off) and frustrated, not at each other. There’s no pointing the finger. But we all understand and we’ve had that dialogue of what we need to do, and everybody knows what we need to do, and we’ve just got to go do it.”
When the Raiders traded for All-Pro receiver Davante Adams to team him with his old college quarterback, the hope was for a seamless transition. The duo has enjoyed highs and endured lows.
Adams caught one pass for 3 yards last week — the third time this season he has been held to fewer than 40 yards. Coach Josh McDaniels says the Raiders need to do a better job exploiting defenses that focus coverage on Adams.
“I’ve always felt like if a player gets double-teamed, if you’re productive away from the double teams, then that forces the defense to consider how much they want to continue to do that,” McDaniels said. “So, I think the performance and production of others, when the defense wants to put so much attention towards one player, always weighs into trying to limit how much that happens.”
BYE-BYE BYE WEEK
The Jaguars are accustomed to having a bye after playing in London. But not this time.
Jacksonville is playing the week after its annual trip across the pond for just the second time in nine years. The Jaguars lost in overtime at the New York Jets the last time they tried it, in 2017.
Pederson adjusted the team’s schedule — he essentially held two walkthroughs instead of a full practice Wednesday — in hopes of giving players a little extra rest and recovery time.
“We want them to move around a little bit to still continue to flush the travel and physicality from their system,” Pederson said.
Four other teams played in London earlier this year and hosted games the following week. They went 3-1, with Minnesota, New Orleans and the New York Giants all winning. Green Bay lost to the Jets.
THIS AND THAT
The matchup features two of the NFL’s top running backs. Vegas’ Josh Jacobs ranks fourth in the league with 676 yards and six touchdowns. Jacksonville’s Travis Etienne is sixth with 571 yards and two scores despite starting just three games. … Raiders WR Keelan Cole started his career in Jacksonville; Jaguars WR Zay Jones spent the previous two seasons in Vegas. … The Raiders are favored by 1 1/2 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.