The Jaguars are feeling pretty good about themselves right now. You can tell from looking at their official twitter feed, where for the time being at least, they’ve changed their name.
In celebration of the record-setting 10-sack effort their defense turned in during what proved to be a 29-7 manhandling of the Texans on Sunday, the Jags now claim to hail from “Sacksonville’’ instead of Jacksonville.
— #Sacksonville (@Jaguars) September 10, 2017
Pretty cool. And hey, who can blame them for having some fun. The Jaguars haven’t had much of that lately and besides, they’ve invested a lot of money and draft picks into their pass rush the last few years and that pass rush sure came through in Week 1.
Two of their 10 sacks were strip sacks by second-year end Yannick Ngakoue, and one of those was turned into a touchdown when Dante Fowler recovered the fumble and ran it back 53 yards for the score.
“At the end of the day, sometimes the ball just bounces your way,’’ said Calais Campbell, who led the way with four sacks “Sometimes good plays come your way.’’
It wasn’t just sacks that came the Jaguars way on Sunday. They also forced four takeaways, including fumble recoveries by Fowler, Ngakoue and Abry Jones and an interception by Tashaun Gipson.
All but one of the takeaways resulted in scores for the Jaguars, who would have gone 4-for-4 in that area had kicker Jason Myers not missed a 39-yard field goal try at the start of the fourth quarter.
The four takeaways were just one less than the Jaguars had in their first eight games last year, when they finished the season tied for 31st in the league in takeaways with 13, including just seven interceptions.
Of course, that’s pretty much in keeping with the way the Jaguars have performed in the takeaway department the last few years. Since 2009, the Jaguars have forced just 183 takeaways.
That’s the fewest in the league over that span – by a dozen – and it’s 78 less than the Patriots, the leader in takeaways over that nine-year stretch, have recorded.
For the Jaguars, though, Sunday was a different kind of day, and Campbell believes it may just be the first of a lot more days just like it over the course of the remainder of the season.
“It’s just a start,’’ Campbell said. “We want to be the best defense in the league and we have that ability. But like I said, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t continue with it.
“But yeah, it does feel good. We played a great game, with directing our game plan very well. I made a lot of plays and when you do that you’re going to win games.’’
And change names.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.