With the anticipation building for Sunday afternoon and the Jaguars first playoff game in 10 years, there is lots of optimism. However, it’s a legitimate concern, as to whether the Jacksonville team that we saw the last two games of the season in San Francisco and Nashville, will be the team we’ll see against the Bills.
Granted, Jacksonville’s defense has been tremendous all year. They are first or second in numerous categories and are the biggest reason why the Jags won the AFC South and are hosting this AFC Wildcard game.
In fact, the AP acknowledged how good the defense is on Friday and put four Jaguars on the first and second All-Pro teams. And without a doubt, Buffalo’s struggling offense, with star RB LeSean McCoy a big question mark with an ankle injury will have their hands full Sunday with that D.
Still, QB Jimmy Garappolo marched up and down the field on that defense to the tune of four scoring drives, throwing for 2 TDs, running for another, and the 49ers were 10 of 15 in 3rd down conversions on the day.
That was eye opening.
Now, the defense was better a week ago against rival Tennessee. Save for Derrick Henry’s catch and run 66 yard TD in the first half, the Titans did little, offensively. Under 250 total yards, a dismal 2 of 16 on 3rd down, and only three other field goals on the day in their 15-10 win.
However, in both of the last two games, the Jaguars have come out in the first half and been able to do very little offensively, themselves. QB Blake Bortles threw three INTs against the 49ers and though he padded his stats in the fourth quarter with the Jags significantly behind (382 yards passing), he didn’t play well when it mattered.
Likewise, last week Bortles got even worse and the numbers bared that out. He completed only 15-34 passes for 158 yards and had two more picks against the stingy Tennessee defense. And most importantly, Jacksonville had only one scoring drive, a field goal in the first half.
Also, stud RB Leonard Fournette failed to register 70 yards in either loss, further adding to the offensive woes.
So, it’s a “glass half full or half empty” scenario for the Jaguars.
They are now at home and will be “amped” for this game and should, emphasis on should, play better on offense, especially at the beginning Sunday against the Bills.
Then again, a skeptic could counter that the last two weeks are a foreshadowing of Buffalo being able to stifle the run game, like the 49ers and Titans did, and make Bortles beat you with his arm.
He could not in those last two games.
Will it change Sunday? Or will the Jags December ending have “told the tale” before the playoffs began?
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