Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone knows Buffalo Bills well

By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 3, 2018 at 11:24 PM
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The Jacksonville Jaguars performed as well as anyone could have expected this season.

Coming off a five-year stretch in which they won a total of 17 games, including just three wins a year ago, winning a divisional title, a No. 3 seed in the AFC and earning a home playoff game are more than most could have hoped for.

But here they are, having earned the right to play in their first playoff game since 2007 and to host a game for the first time since 1999.

Now the question is, what are Jaguars' chances of earning their first postseason win since 2007?

Jacksonville probably got a more favorable first-round matchup when Baltimore lost its regular-season finale to Cincinnati, thus putting the Jaguars against Buffalo in the first round rather than against Tennessee, which beat Jacksonville twice this season.

Jacksonville also avoided playing the Los Angeles Chargers, a team the Jaguars beat earlier in the season but one that features Philip Rivers, who had routinely produced 300-plus passing yard games against the Jaguars.

Instead, the Jaguars will encounter a Buffalo team that is 9-7 and won three of its last four games to earn their first playoff appearance in 18 years.

The Bills' offensive rankings are so-so -- 29th in average yards per game, sixth in rushing and 29th in passing. It's not much better defensively -- 26th in average yards per game, 29th in rushing and 20th in passing.

But Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone suggests the Bills are a worthy opponent.

"They are a good football team. They are physical on both sides of the ball. I think they have done a great job, like we have over the course of the year, with turnovers," Marrone noted. "They have created a lot of turnovers. They have obviously done a good job in their coverage units, special teams-wise, and they are dangerous on offense. They can make plays. They have good guys on the perimeter. They have a premier tight end in (Charles) Clay.

"Obviously, with (LeSean) McCoy as the runner or (Mike) Tolbert, they have a really good running game and the quarterback is dangerous. He has done a lot of things that have given us problems when plays get extended or quarterbacks run and things of that nature. It has been a challenge for us. There are a lot of challenges for us coming off of this game."

Marrone was the Buffalo head coach in 2013 and 2014, but walked away from the team with a $4 million buyout. It was a move that Bills fans haven't forgotten, but Marrone seldom talks about that decision.

"It was a long time ago, but I'm happy for that fan base, I'm happy for where they are," Marrone said. "They've earned their spot, but more importantly, my concentration is on our team and our fan base. We've earned it, too, and we've been out of it for a long time. I don't go back to the past, but like I said before, I'm happy for them, I'm glad they're in a good place. I'm in a great place. Feeling great about where I am. I'm comfortable with it."

Neither team has much playoff experience, with only a handful of players on either side having played in the postseason. Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis is the only player on either team who has playoff experience with the same team. Lewis was a member of the Jaguars' 2007 playoff team.

Marrone is trying to keep preparation the same as it was during the regular season.

"It's like you do every week but you are just checking the boxes, just one more time," the Jaguars' head coach said. "That is probably it. To say you want to make sure everything is clear, the plan is clear, what we want to do is clear. Everyone understands and the reason why. That is a big thing is because when everything is clear, you can play harder and play faster. Those are the things you want to do. You don't want to say that is not what we have been doing during the year."

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