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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars QB Bortles doesn’t mind you coming over to his place

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars are “riding high” early on in the season after an impressive win against New England. Everyone is obviously loose, because of the success in 2017, and now, back-to-back wins to start this year have given a sense of confidence to the young squad.

An embattled fifth year quarterback Blake Bortles is on a serious uptick in his own playing career. Off yet another surprising game Sunday, where he threw for 376 yards and four scores in the 31 – 20 victory, Bortles has plenty of reasons to smile.

And, unusually, he has plenty of reasons to welcome total strangers who come to his door

Yes. You read that correctly.

Bortles made mention earlier this week about fans and even teammates coming to his house, unannounced, to “say hello,” maybe catch up on some Netflix and of course, talk about the success of the Jaguars.

Okay, we made the Netflix part up.

Still, for an NFL quarterback to make mention that he’s welcoming people to come see him at his home to talk up the team he plays for is definitely unusual.

Bortles elaborated jokingly to the media Wednesday after the Jaguars practice in preparation for their first meeting this season with the Titans:

“It’s a football town that loves their Jaguars, especially when they are playing well. You know, I don’t have a problem having a conversation with somebody at the door.” When asked whether the fans relate to him, Bortles continued, “I feel as though I relate to the city of Jacksonville and the people who live here….I’ve lived in Florida my whole life. I feel comfortable here. I’ve made a lot of friends here. Made a lot of good relationships. Really enjoyed being here.”

It’s a very juicy twist to the Bortles soap opera from a year ago, when Jags fans were ready to not only come to his front door, but pack all of his belongings and put them on a moving truck to get him out of town.

Yet, Bortles played steady and at times great football in the 2017 season, including Jacksonville’s stunning AFC divisional playoff win at Pittsburgh last year. He also played well in the AFC Championship Game resulting in a narrow lost to New England.

So, it’s understandable that Bortles has got the Jaguars fans filling up on his bandwagon, yet again.

However, one thing is for sure, in the NFL everything is fleeting and directly related to what you’ve done, lately. And with the Titans having swept the Jaguars a year ago, Bortles and his teammates know they have to get that corrected starting with Sunday’s home game at TIAA Bank Field.

Otherwise, any strangers at the Bortles home, who are decked out in black and teal uninvited, may not be as friendly coming up the driveway next week.

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Zach Lauer
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Jacksonville Jaguars

Gameday- Jaguars try to bounce back at home against hot Texans

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Jaguars (3-3) at Texans (3-3)

When: Sunday  1 p.m.

Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville

Spread: Jaguars by 4 points (Courtesy of Vegasinsider.com)

What to watch:

Can the Jaguars run?

Another week and more uncertainty about who and how the Jaguars will get their run game going. It was a dismal offensive showing in Dallas and a 40 – 7 loss.

As you probably know by now, Leonard Fournette is still inactive and out for another game with his injured hamstring. This is the fifth time in six games that he is not available for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and the attack.

Reserve running back T.J. Yeldon has filled in solidly but not spectacularly. Veteran Jamaal Charles was signed two weeks ago but carried just five times for five yards in the lost to the Cowboys.The Jaguars did trade for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday giving up a mid-round pick in next year’s draft. Hyde will not be available to help them in this match-up, but perhaps in the future.

The Jaguars have to try to get some kind of run game going to help set up the play action of quarterback Blake Bortles.

Stopping DeShaun Watson

In the Jaguars season sweep of the Texans in 2017, they had the good fortune of not playing the Texans top weapon on offense, quarterback DeShaun Watson (above) either time. Watson had not yet taken over the starting role in the opening game, when Jacksonville blew Houston out. He then was injured for the season with a torn ACL, when the second meeting came around later in the year.

Watson has now helped lead the Texans to three consecutive victories and is still a threat with both his arm and his wheels. It will be important for the Jaguars front seven to keep him not only in the pocket but also from making great runs on broken plays.

Get the Swagger back

There is no doubt that the good will and momentum of a great 2017 is gone. The Chiefs and the Cowboys pounded it out of the Jaguars the last two games.

Jacksonville is back at home, and they have to give the home fans something to cheer about early and often in this game. Whether it is a big hit defensively, a big play on offense or both, the Jags have to get something going to get out of their funk.

The Texans have won three straight, have other play-makers besides Watson like J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins and they aren’t just going to roll over.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars acquired RB Carlos Hyde from Browns Friday

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Desperate to kick-start their offense, the Jaguars continue to overhaul their banged-up backfield. On Friday, Jacksonville acquired running back Carlos Hyde from the Cleveland Browns.

Hyde, a former second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, had signed with the Browns in March on a three year $15.2 million deal. And, he had modest success in Cleveland’s first six games, with his best game coming in week 3 against the Jets where he ran for 98 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns.

The Jaguars are parting with a fifth round draft pick in return for the former Ohio State Buckeyes star to give them a “shot in the arm” offensively.

We have well-documented that the Jaguars run game is undermanned and underwhelming. With Leonard Fournette still battling an injured hamstring and already ruled out for Sunday- meaning he will miss his fifth game in the last six, Coach Doug Marrone and staff are looking for answers on the ground.

A week ago in Dallas T.J. Yeldon had 8 carries for 41 yards and newly-acquired Jamaal Charles carried five times for just 5 yards. Yeldon has been limited in practice with a nagging ankle injury, and Charles is approaching 32 years of age and there is still concerned about how much he has left to offer.

With Hyde being acquired on Friday afternoon, he will be first be able to be active and able to help next week, when the Jaguars head to London to play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hyde is slated to make $5.5 million dollars on this year’s cap, including the prorated 3.5 million signing bonus in the deal he did with Cleveland. The Jaguars are now going to be responsible for a little more than half of that money with 10 games to go in the regular season.

As for their offense, it has registered just 21 points in the last two games- both blowout losses to the Chiefs and the Cowboys. And, off of three losses in four games, if the Jaguars don’t get something going quickly, it may not matter which running back is in the backfield for the stretch run.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars coach Marrone offered little Thursday about possible turnaround

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It’s definitely “circle the wagons” time for the Jaguars after they’ve lost two straight and three of their last four games. The Jags are at home Sunday with division rival Houston and will try to put 60 minutes of football together to get back to their winning ways.

However, if you were looking Thursday for any insight, much less encouraging words, about possible improvement starting Sunday from head coach Doug Marrone, keep looking.

As is customary on Thursdays, Marrone was not made available to the media for a press conference, because  he talks extensively on his radio show that is simulcast on the Jags website.

But, not much was learned about improving the struggles during the 15 minutes or so of conversation with the internet hosts J.P. Shadrick and former Jags defensive star/analyst Jeff Lageman.

For example, Marrone was never asked about quarterback Blake Bortles, much less his recent struggles, and most importantly, what’s being done by offensive coordinator to Nate Hackett and quarterback coach Scott Milanovich to try to get the passing game back on track?

Likewise, Marrone was never asked about the Jaguars running game, with the problems that it has had with Leonard Fournette out of the lineup with his bad hamstring.

As we continue to monitor, Fournette did not practice at all again on Thursday and it appears the Jags are going to rest him for an extended period of time. This is out of concern to not re-injure the hamstring, like he did three weekends ago trying to play after two weeks of rest on the injured hammy against the Jets.

Still, you would have liked to of heard what have heard what Marrone thought of RB Jamaal Charles’ limited time and performance last week, how he’s looked in his second full week of practice and what the prospects are of him being able to help the Jaguars win this game with Houston?

Alas, there was nothing Thursday night.

The media will get one final opportunity in advance of the Texans game to talk to Marrone on Friday and see what the updates are on any of those subjects above?

In the meantime, we realize that most Jags fans are only concerned with whether the Jaguars are going to turn it around, get a victory and still maintain at least a tie for the lead in the division.

But the ones that were looking for reassurance from the head coach that it is going to turn around starting Sunday and how?

Well, they, like us, are still waiting.

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