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Jacksonville Jaguars

Fischer: Jags defense must set tone this week vs.Texans

Christopher Fischer

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Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

If Jags coach Gus Bradley is to evade what looks like an inevitable “pink slip” at the end of the season, it will be his defense that will need to carry the load down the stretch.

Of their remaining eight games, five come against AFC South divisional rivals. This week the division leading Texans come to Jacksonville, and they may just be the perfect Jaguars prey.

In three road contests, Houston is averaging single digits on the scoreboard. While they are coming off the Bye Week, the Jaguars have a chance to drop their dismal 26.5 points allowed per game average on home turf.

One thing is for sure, Bradley will stick to most teams’ script by keying in on Texans primary game-breaker WR DeAndre Hopkins.

When asked this week about Hopkins’ sub par first half of the season, Bradley said, “I think defenses are doing a good job of being aware of Hopkins.” He’s only caught three TD’s and is averaging only 54 receiving yards per game. The danger is Hopkins may be ready for a breakout game.

Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is still working on validating the massive 4-year deal he signed during the off-season, without much luck so far. Jags fans can take solace in the fact that Osweiler has almost as much of a propensity for throwing interceptions as QB Blake Bortles. The Houston quarterback has nine picks on the season, yet has thrown only one over the past two games.

If the Jags defense can take away Hopkins, the Texans will turn to RB Lamar Miller. While his production dropped off following a breakout game against the Colts in Week 6, Miller is still averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

“He’ll hit it downhill, but some of his bigger plays come from the outside where he bounces it,” said Bradley. “So we really got to be good on the perimeter.”

This showdown Sunday is important for as bad as they were in the first half,  the Jaguars are only two games back with half the season to go. Jacksonville still has a chance to save the season and Gus Bradley’s job.

But if his defense can’t get the job done the rest of the way, Bradley will have no defense himself for why his specialty couldn’t stop opponents.

A native Floridian who graduated from Clearwater High School and the University of Florida, Chris Fischer has spent nearly 15 years in Sports Televison, including the last five as Sports Reporter and Anchor with the CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay-WTSP. He is a multi time AP Sports and Local Emmy award winner and will be seen this season as a sideline reporter on CBS-TV’s network coverage of the NFL.Chris brings enthusiasm and passion (particularly when it comes to his Gators) to College and NFL coverage to F.F.I.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Steelers add to Jaguars frustrations with late comeback

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Any hope that the Jaguars were going to turn their season around on a November Sunday in North Florida ended abruptly, as Ben Roethlisberger fueled a 16-point second-half comeback and the Steelers handed Jacksonville their sixth straight defeat.

The Jaguars controlled most of the first three quarters, but unfortunately had only three Josh Lambo field goals to show for their excellent play in the first half. And, their 9 – 0 lead going into the 3rd quarter came back to haunt them later on.

Outspoken but talented defensive back Jalen Ramsey stepped up big with two interceptions of Roethlisberger, while being matched up head-to-head on Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh. This came on the heels of a Sunday morning ESPN report that the Jaguars would likely try to trade the third year cornerback this off season to rid themselves of his antics off the field.

The Jags denied the report in a statement, and Ramsey looked up to the challenge early

However, Brown did shake loose for a 78-yard bomb in the third quarter with that Pittsburgh back in the game at 16 – 6. It was the beginning of the end for Jacksonville.

And, unfortunately for the Jaguars, an all too familiar theme took shape, again, in the second half. This, as Blake Bortles was once again virtually ineffective throwing for just a 104 yards and was sacked six times on the game.

Then, when Roethlisberger led the Steelers to another touchdown with under six minutes remaining hitting TE Vance McDonald on an 11-yard score, it wast 16-13.

Once more, Jacksonville’s offense could do nothing and gave the ball back to Pittsburgh for one more opportunity for Roethlisberger to play the hero. He hit Juju Smith Schuster-with a long completion inside the Jacksonville 25 yard line, and then, another pass over the middle Bryant put them down inside the 4-yard line with under :20 to play.

Two plays later Roethlisberger scrambled just into the end zone with only :05 remaining in the game and the comeback was complete.

In stunning the Jaguars and their home fans, Pittsburgh won its six consecutive game. Further, they dealt a likely fatal blow to Jacksonville’s hopes to get into the playoff race, as they now stand at 3-7.

Despite Leonard Fournette having a strong day with almost a hundred yards rushing and the lone touchdown on an “Up and Over” dive in the third quarter, the Jags once again showed that their biggest flaw is: that can’t throw the football with any down-filled success and get quick scores with any regularity.

And unlike 2017 when they’re plodding, run-based offense was effective, time and again, it’s been exposed in 2018 for losses.

With the win the Steelers do get a measure of revenge after being swept last year by Jacksonville including a while 45 – 35 playoff loss in the divisional round at Heinz Field.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Report- Jaguars will explore trading DB Jalen Ramsey

Florida Football Insiders

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The soap opera involving controversial and outspoken Jags defensive back Jalen Ramsey took another turn Sunday morning. That’s when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Jags are going to seriously consider trading Ramsey at the end of this season.

Schefter made the comments on ESPN’s Sunday morning “NFL Countdown” pregame show and also wrote about it on ESPN.com, citing League sources:

As we wrote earlier this week, Ramsey made waves when he tweeted Monday after the Jags fifth consecutive loss that Jaguar fans were going to “miss me when I’m gone.”

Ramsey tried to downplay the controversy, when he met with the media on Thursday, and said that he was only talking to “fake Jaguar fans.” And further, he said that he wants to finish his career in Jacksonville.

We’ve documented the off-season of headaches that included: Ramsey not showing up to OTAs, delaying arriving to training camp by 5 days after the birth of his daughter, and being outspoken in an article on GQ.com criticizing multiple quarterbacks including the Jaguars opponent today, the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger.

And he and former teammate Dante Fowler were both suspended for a week during the preseason for their behavior at a Jags training camp practice, where Fowler was trying to get into a fight with teammate Yannick Ngakoue.

Earlier this week, Coach Doug Marrone took an unusual step for him and actually specifically mentioned Ramsey by name, as having blown a key coverage in the first half on a Colts touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron.

Later Sunday morning, the Jaguars released a statement denying the trade rumor:

Ramsey was a top-10 pick of the Jaguars in 2016 and is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal. So that makes the rumors about a possible trade after the season even juicier, because he’s much more affordable for another team to acquire right now.

The Jaguars will take on the Steelers later today at TIAA Bank field.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Gameday- Jaguars rematch Steelers looking stop losing streak

Florida Football Insiders

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Jaguars (3-6) vs. Steelers (6-2-1)

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville

Spread: Steelers by 5 1/2 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)

Here’s what to watch:

Build on last week’s offensive success

The Jaguars came to life on the offensive side of the ball in Indianapolis. Even though it was a 29 – 26 loss, Leonard Fournette was back for the first time in five weeks, ran tough and ended up with two touchdowns. As we have well-documented, he also help set up the play-action pass that has been sorely missed on a consistent basis for Jacksonville.

Blake Bortles (shown above in January’s playoff win) was able to hit Donte Moncrief with an 80-yard touchdown and the Jags had their best offensive output, since game four of the season.

More than likely, the Steelers will put some points on the board, and Jacksonville has to be ready to keep up with them.

Slow down Big Ben

In their two wins last season at Pittsburgh, the Jaguars defense was more than opportunistic against Ben Roethlisberger. They had five interceptions in the regular season win and then, two more takeaways in the AFC divisional playoff win were all critical.

The Jags come in with only eight takeaways in nine games, so far. And, it’s one of the big reasons they are on a five game skid.

If Jacksonville gives Roethlisberger time to throw without sacking and knocking him down or at least pressuring him into early errant bad decisions, it’s going to be a long day.

Get the Swagger back.

Somewhere along the way, the Jaguars have lost part of what made them good in 2017. They played as a confident, almost cocky, football team, especially on defense.

They have been humbled in one decisive loss after another, recently and that swagger is not there.

Playing at home Sunday, can Jacksonville revive some of that attitude in front of the home fans by making some big plays early? There will be a large contingent of Steelers fans on hand, as they always travel well.

Let’s see if it makes a difference being back at home for the first time in almost a month.

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