It’s a statement game right out of the shoot for the Jaguars. Facing the Packers in the season opener, Jacksonville has the chance to prove they are no longer the young cats who’ve toiled at the bottom of the AFC South.
“I think it’s a good chance for us to go out and rise to the level of our expectations,” said Blake Bortles. “We expect to play well.”
The expectations of going from a 5-11 record a year ago to a playoff contender has hounded this team through out the preseason. General Manager Dave Caldwell did little to turn down the pressure by saying, “We can match up with virtually almost anybody.”
That confidence will be put to the test as Aaron Rodgers leads Green Bay in to Everbank Field five and half point favorites.
While the storyline of Gus Bradley’s job security will hover over the Jags’ through out the season, here are the top three storylines for Sunday:
How will the Jaguars defense handle Aaron Rodgers?
Aaron Rodgers is coming off statistically his worst season of his 12-year career. Now that he has a healthy Jordy Nelson to throw to, Rodgers will try to make a statement that he is back to his old self.
The Jaguars over the off-season upgraded their defense which ranked 29th overall. The upgrades to the secondary in signing Tashaun Gipson and drafting Jalen Ramsey should help a unit that gave up the second most points per game (27.3 ppg) in the NFL last season.
The key will be getting pressure on Rodgers. Dante Fowler Jr. showed speed and power off the edge during the preseason. Now the former first round draft pick will need to keep his motoring running high against one of the leagues’ best offensive lines.
Look for Paul Posluszny to spy on Rodgers to keep him contained. If the defense can keep pressure on Rodgers in the pocket, the upgraded secondary should give them the ability to get off the field.
Bortles and the Allens’ aerial assault
It’s time to take the next step. Blake Bortles is coming off a year in which he set a franchise record for passing touchdowns (35) and passing yards (4,428). His weapons haven’t changed with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, but Bortles is hoping his propensity for throwing interceptions has.
Bortles provided insight on how he plans to cut down on the turnovers:
“Pre-snap knowing where your going with the ball, kind of having an idea of a visual playing out in your head what happens before it happens,” said Bortles.
Despite not facing a 3-4 defense during the preseason, the Packers system is nothing new for Bortles and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.
They know Hurns and Robinson will give them the ability to spread the field. But keeping Bortles upright with Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews barreling down on him will be crucial.
Olsen said he wants a quick tempo to dictate the pace of play to the defense. So look for Bortles to call plays at the line to allow the the Allens to use their speed to get down field.
The Rookies affect
Top draft picks and injuries have grabbed headlines going in to training camp the past two years. First round picks Dante Fowler Jr. and Jalen Ramsey, as well as second round pick Myles Jack appear to be healthy heading in to the opener.
All three are expected to make an immediate impact. Ramsey’s physicality and length gives the secondary a lock down cover corner Bradley’s defense has been missing.
Jack will bring depth to the linebacking core. His ability to go side to side shouldn’t allow for a drop off when Posluszny needs a blow.
These three rookies will be leaned on more when Rodgers drops back to pass.
This is a chance for the Jaguars to come out and assert themselves. A lot of pundits have picked Jacksonville as their “sleeper” team to make the playoffs.
No better chance to prove they’re for real, than to come out on home turf and punch the Packers in the first game of the season.
Report- Jaguars to hire former Giants coach McAdoo as QB coach
The Jaguars are trying to fix things offensively and especially, at the quarterback position. And, to that end, they have apparently settled on another hire, involving another former NFL head coach to lead their QB room.
ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan reported Tuesday night the Jacksonville is hiring former New York Giants head coach, Ben McAdoo, to be their quarterback coach:
Ben McAdoo is being hired as the Jaguars quarterbacks coach, per source. The former Giants coach is back in after two years out of the NFL. McAdoo has worked well with Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning in his previous stints.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) February 12, 2020
McAdoo had been under consideration by head coach, Doug Marrone, for the offensive coordinator vacancy that occurred when the team dismissed John DeFilippo after just one season.
Eventually, Marrone decided upon another former NFC East coach, Jay Gruden, from the Redskins, as the offensive coordinator hire. Gruden, the younger brother of Jon Gruden, is known as an innovator in the passing game.
However, the Jags, including GM Dave Caldwell, were obviously impressed with Macado’s previous work with the Giants and Eli Manning. McAdoo began as an offensive coordinator in New York in 2014 – 15. He was then given the head coaching job, basically at the uriging of the two-time Super Bowl champion QB Manning to take over in 2016.
The Giants finished 11 – 5 McAdoo’s first year as the head coach and made the playoffs. However, the relationship with Eli Manning quickly soured and the team fell apart going 2 – 10 in its first 12 games with McAdoo actually benching Manning late in the 2017 season. McAdoo was fired the week after that benching and has been out of the NFL the last two seasons.
McAdoo will replace QB coach Scott Milanovich, who took over as head coach of the CFL Edmonton Eskimos for later this summer.
The Jaguars still have to resolve their quarterback situation, as they have high price free agent signing Nick Foles, who did not perform well in his first season in Jacksonville. And then, they have fan favorite rookie 6th round pick Gardner Minshew, who did play well at times in relief of the injured Foles and when Marrone benched Foles for the final four games of the year.
Jaguars president Lamping continued to defend two London games
With a fan base that is unsure whether or not Jaguars owner Shad Khan really wants to move half his team’s schedule, if not the team entirely to London, team president Mark Lamping took to the national radio airwaves Thursday morning trying to defend this week’s announcement that they will be playing a second home game in the U.K. this fall.
Lamping was a guest on “Sirius XM NFL Radio” morning show with co-host Bob Papa and Charlie Weis and tried to make clear that playing a second home game in London starting this year, is in the best interest of keeping pro football in North Florida:
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) February 6, 2020
Lamping told the hosts that Khan is “taking all the actions he believes are necessary to ensure the future of the NFL in Northeast Florida,” during the conversation. He went on to discuss Khan’s commitment to land development around TIAA Bank Field and how playing this second home game in London will be able to help with revenue.
Still, it’s totally understandable that Jaguars fans who hear those comments and say, “your words are empty and your actions of moving a second game to London’s Wembley Stadium mean everything.”
And, they would not be wrong to say or think that.
A franchise wanting to stay committed and strong in the market/region where they are, isn’t looking to take 1/4 of the regular season home schedule and play games five time zones away.
The point Lamping was trying to make is the same that Khan did earlier in the week: that the Jaguars make easily $500,00 and maybe north of $1 million more money by selling their home games to the NFL to put on abroad vs. playing in a half empty stadium in Jacksonville,.
The real bottom line with respect to attendance/revenue is: the Jaguars have only had one winning season in eight years under Khan’s ownership. In fact, they’ve lost at least 10 games (including the last two years) in those 7 other seasons, and the losing has caused fan apathy, which therefore results in a lack of revenue.
And, most Jaguar fans were unhappy, or just met with that apathy, Khan’s decision last December to not go ahead and wipe the slate clean from coach Doug Marrone and GM Dave Caldwell, who were part of those last two years. This especially, after firing VP of football,, Tom Coughlin, late in the 2019 season.
The belief from many fans, who post online or call Jacksonville sports radio, etc., is that there’s going to be more of the same of losing in 2020. And then, the owner threatening to move more games every year to London, while still being based in Jacksonville.
For now, the NFL is willing to allow Khan to play more games in the U.K., while being based in Jacksonville.
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