They’re the fashionable sleeper pick to make the playoffs, but the Jaguars can’t afford to be sleepy this Sunday against the Chargers. Despite putting up a fight against the heralded Packers, the Jags lost a disappointing season opener. Dropping the first two games would not only put them in a huge hole, but the calls for Gus Bradley’s head will grow stronger. Since 2007 only five of 66 teams, which began the season 0-2, have battled back to make the playoffs.
Here are keys for the Jaguars heading in to their showdown with the Chargers:
Forget the past
Phillip Rivers has had his way against the Jaguars over the years. The San Diego quarterback is 5-1 all time against Jacksonville, with his highest QB rating (116.3) against an AFC opponent.
Bradley’s defense will need to get pressure on the 34-year old, more than they did on Rodgers last week. Rivers isn’t as fleet of foot as Rodgers. Add in the Chargers’ loss of WR Keenan Allen for the season, San Diego doesn’t have has many weapons.
Jared Odrick and Dante Fowler Jr. have the potential for a big day. Odrick wrapped up Rodgers for a sack in Week 1, and the edge speed Fowler can bring could make for a long afternoon for RT Joe Barksdale.
Run for the Hills
T.J. Yeldon will get a lot of carries this week since Chris Ivory (Hospitalized this week) isn’t expected to go. Yeldon left a lot to be desired after his first showing of the season yielded just 39-yards.
The Jags rushing attack as a whole was putrid, rushing 26-times for 48-yards. You’d have to expect Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson went back to the drawing board to figure out how to get ground yardage. San Diego proved to be porous on the line last week against the Chiefs, surrendering 4.4- yards per carry.
Don’t be surprised if Yeldon flirts with a 100-yard day on the ground.
Pressure, Push down on me
Last week the Packers set up shop in the Jaguars backfield and pushed Blake Bortles off the spot. Against the Chargers, the only person they need to concentrate on letting back there is Mantei Teo’s girlfriend (Too Soon? Nah). Teo last week led San Diego in tackles (8), and tied for a team-high with two tackles for loss. Collectively the Chargers racked up three sacks on the mobile Alex Smith, the same number of sacks the Packers had on Bortles.
If Jacksonville can keep pressure off Bortles and allow him time to find his weapons (And not make the dumb interception) “the Allens” can have a big game.
The Jaguars are three point underdogs only because the Chargers are at home. This is a winnable road game, and probably a “must” win at that. If they fall to 0-2, this sleepy team may only see the post season in their dreams.
Jaguars injury woes continue- LB Myles Jack to IR
The bad news on the injury front for the Jaguars continued on Thursday, when they placed star linebacker Myles Jack on injured reserve.
Source: #Jaguars LB Myles Jack (knee) is going on Injured Reserve today. A hit to the Jacksonville defense.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Jack missed Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with a knee injury that was believed to be a sprain suffered in the loss to the Colts two weeks ago. However, the move to IR indicates it may be more serious.
The Jaguars season has unraveled over the course of the last month with injuries to their defense and the team trading away perennial Pro Bowl defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Rams. Jacksonville had already put DT Marcel Dareus on IR, All-Pro defensive tackle Calais Campbell has been trying to battle through a bad back and DB Tony Harrison has still not been cleared with a concussion.
Coach Doug Marrone has expressed the last two weeks that it has been a struggle for his defense with all of the injuries mounting late in the year.
As for Jack, he had settled in the middle linebacker roll after Telvin Smith abruptly retired in May.
Jack has been solid, but not spectacular, in the middle of the defense registering 7 or more tackles in five games this season. However he hasn’t forced a fumble, has only one interception and half of a sack. Jack also has just three tackles-for-loss at a position that often dictates much more output than that.
The former second-round pick out of UCLA had question marks about his knee coming out of college, when the Jaguars took him in the 2016 draft. However, he has answered critics on his durability by being active for all 59 games of his career up until last week.
Jacksonville will use veteran Donald Payne at middle linebacker for now. Payne played significantly last week against the Buccaneers and has been on and off of Jacksonville roster this season.
Can Jaguars get necessary spark from Gardner Minshew?
The Jaguars were back on the practice field on Wednesday and have to rally around their rookie QB, Gardner Minshew, to re-ignite their season. And their opponent, may be the perfect for them, too.
Minshew took over in the second half for an ineffective Nick Foles, as Foles committed turnovers on each of Jacksonville’s first three possessions. Now, he’s back as their starter to see if the 4-8 Jags can salvage some games in December.
Now, the 4-win L.A. Chargers come stumbling to North Florida off a dramatic loss in Denver and yet, somehow, have been listed as 2.5-point underdogs by top sports betting sites.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers, new-look defense is coming to Jacksonville to try and move to 5-8 and make a run at a .500 season. In effect, both of these teams’ seasons are all but over, so they are just playing for pride. And while mathematically, the Jags are not completely out of the AFC South race, yet, let’s be honest … the Titans and Texans are not going to drop four straight games … and it definitely isn’t looking like the Jags are going to win four straight.
Coach Doug Marrone is clearly in trouble and everything they try is not working. There were plenty of games that the Jaguars could have or should have won, but didn’t. And, now they are sitting on the very bottom of the AFC South with few games remaining.
Onto to the matchup.
The Chargers have owned the Jaguars historically, as they have won in two of the last three and seven of the last ten meetings. But right now, this is a pretty good spot for the Jags.
When we look at standard offense on any given Sunday, the L.A. Chargers are about two points better than the Jacksonville Jaguars on average. The Chargers put up 20.33 points per game against the Jags 18.33. It would be nice for Jaguars fans, if the Chargers performed significantly worse on the road, but they don’t.
They are almost exactly the same level of bad whether at home in Los Angeles or out on the road. And unfortunately, for Jags fans who buy tickets to home games, they have let them down at TIAA Field by performing worse in Jacksonville, to the tune of nearly three points per game. They score just 15.83 on their home field.
The yardage stats are comparable in this one, as the Chargers pass for 255.33 per game, while the Jags pass for 242.50. The Chargers rush for 92 yards per game, while the Jags run game with Leonard Fournette has dropped off to 79.67 average, currently.
On defense, the Chargers are a respectable top ten unit (No. 7 in the league) that allows just 18.50 points per game. They hold teams to 212 yards passing and 97.83 yards rushing.
However, that’s where Minshew will put them to the test. He is far more mobile than Foles and got Jacksonville 11 points in the second half Sunday with them driving for more. That is until the rookie’s killer interception at the Tampa Bay goaline midway through the fourth quarter.
So, most of the numbers point the another Jacksonville loss. That said, the Chargers have lost three straight but have shown some flashes of brilliance. So too did Minshew, who won four games in eight tries earlier this year as the fill-in starter.
If you can avoid this game for your “Survivor Pools” do so … If you are a bettor … stay away.
This is a game where anything can happen, especially with “Minshew Mania” back.
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