The 2018 season should be an interesting year for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming off their first playoff campaign since 2007, they will finally have their chance to prove that they are not just a “one-year wonder.” However, the 2018 schedule will bring lots of challenges and unfamiliar opponents.
In this article, we will be breaking down the first enemy of the 2018 season, the New York Giants.
Series tied 3-3
Last meeting: 11/30/2014 @ Everbank Field (Jaguars 25 – Giants 24)
Although the Giants and Jaguars don’t meet enough to form an interesting rivalry, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about this game. Tom Coughlin has spent considerable amounts of time with both teams, and will faceoff against the Giants for the first time since being fired by the organization in 2016. Fans will get to witness the long-awaited match-up of cornerback Jalen Ramsey vs. wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., as well as running back Saquon Barkley’s first regular season NFL game.
9/9/18, 1:00pm @ Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
(* indicates projected starter)
Eli Manning*, Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta
After a mediocre 2017 performance by Eli Manning, many Giants fans called for a replacement such as Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. However, Giants GM Dave Gettleman made it clear early-on that the Giants were committed to Manning and believed in his abilities.
While Manning has shown signs of decline, he is still a seasoned veteran who could test the Jaguars secondary. He has posted a completion percentage above 60% over the past four seasons, and posted passer ratings of 90+ in two of the last four years. Interestingly, Manning excels while playing in September. Over the last two years, Manning’s completion percentage is 12.2% higher in September than in other months. He also recorded an average of 13.5 points higher passer rating while playing in September. This is unfortunate for the Jaguars, as they will be facing a fresh Eli.
Kyle Lauletta is an interesting project quarterback. Coming out of Richmond college, Lauletta was one of the most accurate QBs in college football and had an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. It is unlikely that the Jags will face Lauletta, but he could be a name to remember for the future.
Saquon Barkley*, Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins
Saquon Barkley will create a unique challenge for the Jaguars defense. The former Penn State RB, and #2 overall pick, has a remarkable combination of athleticism and instinct that makes him a big-play threat on every down. He is just as much of a threat as a pass-catcher as he is a runner. Telvin Smith and Myles Jack will be tasked with containing the explosive rookie RB.
Jonathan Stewart could possibly see playtime as a 3rd down back. However, the veteran RB’s play has been declining since 2015, and shouldn’t create much of a prevalent threat excluding at the goal line.
It is very possible that the Giants offense attempts to make this a “statement game,” by attempting to establish the running game early. New York hasn’t been able to effectively run the ball since Ahmad Bradshaw’s breakout year in 2012. Finding success with the running game could take pressure off Eli Manning, both against the Jaguars and future opponents.
Odell Beckham Jr*, Sterling Shepherd*, Cody Latimer, Roger Lewis, Amba Etta-Tawo
The superstar match-up between Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Jalen Ramsey will undoubtedly be the biggest headline of the game. Ramsey will be coming off his first Pro-bowl, and Beckham will play his first regular season game since he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in October of 2017. The two ultra-competitive players should produce a handful of highlight-worthy plays.
Sterling Shepherd has been a productive slot receiver over his first two NFL seasons, and could find success against the soft-spot in the Jags defense: Slot Corner. This will be an important game for Jalen Myrick, DJ Hayden and Quenton Meeks who will be competing for a the third cornerback spot.
After Beckham and Shepherd, the Giants receiving talent takes a huge dip. Roger Lewis was formidable in a pinch last year after injuries took out Beckham and Shepherd. Amba-Etta Tawo, former Jaguar, will get a chance to face off against his old team. Cody Latimer, former 2nd rounder for the Broncos, showed small flashes of production in 2017.
Evan Engram*, Rhett Ellison, Kyle Carter, Shane Smith
Second-year tight end Evan Engram is one of the better receiving tight-ends in the league. Despite being part of an anemic Giants offense, he managed to post 700 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns in his rookie season. While Engram is a talented pass-catcher, the Jaguars may be able to exploit his poor blocking in run situations. Engram garnered one of the lowest grades run-blocking grades among tight ends in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus.
Aside from Engram, the Giants tight end depth is devoid of talent. Rhett Ellison has played in the NFL for six years and has yet to post over 250 receiving yards in a season. Carter and Smith aren’t locks to make the final roster.
Nate Solder* LT, Will Hernandez* LG, Brett Jones* C, Patrick Omameh* RG, Ereck Flowers* RT, Chad Wheeler, John Greco
Dave Gettleman reconstructed the Giants offensive line in the offseason by adding LT Nate Solder and rookie LG Will Hernandez. While these players are certainly talented, the line isn’t completely fixed. Justin Pugh, the Giants most essential and versatile offensive lineman, signed with the Cardinals in the offseason. Solder has never fared exceptionally well in pass protection and Hernandez, while promising, is still a rookie. Ereck Flowers, John Jerry, Brett Jones, Chad Wheeler, and ex-Jaguar Patrick Omameh are all possible starters with below average talent.
Yannick Ngakoue could find some success against Solder’s lackluster pass protection, and Dante Fowler Jr. should fare well against an under-performing Flowers. Veteran DL Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, and Marcell Dareus should see a dominant performance against a mediocre Giants interior O-line.
Janoris Jenkins* CB, Eli Apple* CB, Landon Collins* SS, Darian Thompson* FS, William Gay, Curtis Riley
A once dominant Giants secondary appears rather weak heading into 2018. On the positive side, Landon Collins is a pro-bowl caliber safety, and Janoris Jenkins can be one of the better corners in the league when motivated to play. Unfortunately for the Giants, former first rounder, Eli Apple, has proved to be an issue in the locker room. He was suspended for a game due to a heated exchange with coaches and has been referred to as a “cancer” by teammate Landon Collins. Apple’s play on the field has been unimpressive, but with the departure of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, he may earn a starting spot as a CB2.
William Gay has only started 10 games in the last two seasons, and will be nearly 34 by September. Darian Thompson earned a PFF grade of 52.2 in 2017, good for only the 69th grade best out of qualifying safeties.
DJ Chark and Keelan Cole could prove to be an unfair matchup if lined up against Apple or Gay. Gay doesn’t possess the speed to keep up with Chark or Cole, while Apple can be stiff in coverage and could get beat if baited into one of Chark’s polished double moves.
Alec Ogletree*, BJ Goodson*, Kareem Martin*, Olivier Vernon*, Lorenzo Carter, Ray-Ray Armstrong
The Giants new defensive coordinator James Bettcher will be introducing a 3-4 defensive set in 2018. This will benefit players such as former-Cardinal Kareem Martin and rookie edge rusher Lorenzo Carter, who are built to be 3-4 edge rushers. Olivier Vernon is one of the brighter spots on the Giants LB core, and should also transition well to the new scheme as a standing rusher. Alec Ogletree will have to improve his play after struggling under the Wade Phillips 3-4 variant for the Rams last year. BJ Goodson will be entering his third season in the NFL and has yet to show anything particularly impressive about his play, despite being on IR the year prior.
Damon Harrison*, Dalvin Tomlinson*, BJ Hill, Josh Mauro (suspended), RJ McIntosh
Former UDFA Damon Harrison was was one of the best defensive lineman in the league in 2017 and excelled in defending the run. Dalvin Tomlinson outperformed the expectations of many as a rookie and was also a run-stopping force. Newly signed free agent Josh Mauro will be suspended for 4 games. BJ Hill, rookie out of NC State, is an athletic freak with tools and plenty of upside, but will take time to develop.
Although Nathaniel Hackett loves the inside run game, the Giants interior defenders could make finding success with the inside runs difficult. Being able to run to the outside will be crucial to Leonard Fournette’s success.
The Jaguars offensive game plan should focus on a heavy run-game with an emphasis on outside runs. As far as the passing game goes, targeting Apple and William Gay and staying away from Janoris Jenkins should reduce turnover potential. Establishing a running game early-on would create an opportunity to take a deep shot either to either Cole or Chark.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jags will have to counter a quick pass or quick screen game. The Giants know that their offensive line is outmatched, and will most likely try to get the ball out quickly on every play. This would likely involve screens to Barkley as well as quick slant throws to Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepherd. Incorporating more Cover 2 looks into their typical man-to-man defensive scheme will give Ramsey and Bouye freedom to make plays against the screen and run.
While the Giants have made some strides in improving their roster, and will have players returning from IR, I don’t believe they outmatch the Jaguars roster. With the state of the Giants O-line, and the Jaguars pass rush, they will have to rely on a dink-and-dunk offense. On the defensive side, their secondary will be constantly challenged by the deep threats of Keelan Cole and DJ Chark, leaving extra room for Fournette to slash through their defense.
Jaguars 31 – Giants 13
Keep an eye out for the next article, in which we preview the week two AFC Championship rematch against the New England Patriots…
Bortles, Jaguars get their revenge over the Patriots, 31-20
The Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots took off quickly for their rematch of the AFC title game just last season. The Jaguars were without star running back Leonard Fournette as he nurses a hamstring injury.
After the Patriots missed on their opening drive field goal, the Jaguars would drive 56 yards on the heels of Corey Grant, TJ Yeldon, and Blake Bortles to score a go-ahead 4-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Donte Moncrief, who made a beautiful grab over Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
The Jaguars defense came in to force a 3-and-out only for the Jaguars and Blake Bortles to drive down the field again and score a beautiful 20-yard touchdown to Keelan Cole.
After the Jaguars’ second punt of the game to the Patriots 6-yard line, the Patriots would take eight minutes and 16 seconds off the clock only to come up for a field goal. The Jaguars defense played a little bend-but-don’t-break, which allowed Brady and company to drive down the field.
With around a two minutes and 45 seconds to go until halftime, the Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles would take the ball 75-yards for a beautiful 4-yard touchdown pass to end the half. Perfectly executed.
Blake Bortles would end the first half with a great stat line. Going 17 for 25 with 200 yards and three touchdowns. Nearly a perfect game for the Jaguars and their star quarterback. The Jaguars would go into halftime with a 21-3 lead over the New England Patriots.
After the second half kickoff to the Jaguars offense, they would drive down the field to the Patriots seven-yard line, however, they were unable to come up with a touchdown this time, settling for an easy field goal for Josh Lambo.
What was looking to be another scoring drive by the Jaguars turned into a fumble by rookie wide receiver DJ Chark. The Patriots and Tom Brady would, of course, turn that short field into a touchdown. 24-10 Jaguars.
After a Blake Bortles interception the Patriots looked poised to score again, however, this time the Jaguars defense came to play. Dante Fowler Jr. had a great burst on the edge beating his man for a strip-sack. Jaguars recover.
After the Patriots were forced to punt, Blake Bortles did what he has done all game. Find the open receiver and let them make a play. Dede Westbrook took a short slant route pass from Bortles 61-yards for a touchdown. 31-13 Jaguars. The Patriots would go on to score a garbage time touchdown at the end of the game. 31-20 final score.
THREE BIG PLAYS:
Keelan Cole makes the catch of the year.
No additional comment needed. See for yourself.
Keelan Cole with the best catch of 2018 pic.twitter.com/FoT9ZQnoYu
— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) September 16, 2018
Move over OBJ.
Dante Fowler Jr. comes up big with a strip-sack on Tom Brady
Following a Blake Bortles ill-advised interception late in the 4th quarter, the Jaguars defense needed a stop, and they came up huge with Dante Fowler Jr. beating his man around the edge for a strip-sack/recover on quarterback Tom Brady. This was Fowler’s first game of the year after being suspended week one.
Dede Westbrook takes a Blake Bortles pass 61-yards for a touchdown
All the receivers came to play today but this Westbrook touchdown was a thing of beauty. Westbrook took a simple slant route from Blake Bortles 61-yards for a touchdown. Great blocking and an amazing way to seal the victory for the Jaguars.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Never a doubt. Blake Bortles is absolutely your player of the game today. Blake’s stat line for today: 29/45 for 377 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. The Boat (Blake Bortles) was on fire today. The Patriots defense had no answers for him and the Jaguars passing offense. This was easily the best game of his career.
The Jaguars did it. They got their revenge in the best possible way as they took on the Patriots and laid one on ‘em to earn a victory. There were very few times throughout the game where the Jaguars did not seem to have complete control of this game, and they played aggressively. No longer were the Jaguars simply three yards and a cloud of dust. Blake Bortles, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, TJ Yeldon, Corey Grant, the list goes on. Nearly everyone on offense had themselves a day. The Jaguars beat the Patriots through the air effortlessly.
The Jaguars will take on the Tennessee Titans (1-1) at home next week.
Jaguars vs. Patriots Week Two Inactives: Fournette Out, Campbell Starts
The Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots have released their inactive lists for the game today. For the Jaguars star running back, Leonard Fournette is out today with a hamstring injury. However, Calais Campbell who was added late to the injury report with a knee injury is expected to start today.
There was speculation before the game that Campbell could be out. It is possible the Jaguars limit his snaps this week.
Jaguars running back TJ Yeldon will start ahead of Fournette. Corey Grant will also look to get in on the fun after only having one touch last week against the Giants.
JAGUARS INACTIVE REPORT
RB Leonard Fournette
LB Leon Jacobs
DT Eli Ankou
OL Chris Reed
OL Josh Walker
OL Will Richardson
DE Dawuane Smoot
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) September 16, 2018
One surprise on the Jaguars inactive list is rookie linebacker, Leon Jacobs. Although he was injured this week with the ankle injury, he was thought to have been progressing. Look for linebacker Larentee McCray to take his place at SAM linebacker.
PATRIOTS INACTIVE REPORT
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 16, 2018
For the Patriots they are without their starting right tackle in Marcus Cannon. They also get back their starting running back in Rex Burkhead as well as their first-round pick, rookie running back Sony Michel.
Jaguars Promote Running Back Brandon Wilds, Release WR Rashad Greene
According to Mark Long of the Associated Press, the Jacksonville Jaguars today have promoted Running Back Brandon Wilds from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. As a corresponding move, the Jaguars have released veteran Wide Receiver Rashad Greene Sr.
This move should not come as too much of a surprise as starting running back Leonard Fournette has been nursing an injured hamstring all week, and TJ Yeldon was added to the injury report yesterday with an ankle injury.
Jaguars make move that could mean RB Leonard Fournette doesn't play: Team promotes RB Brandon Wilds from practice squad and releases WR Rashad Greene
— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) September 15, 2018
The move might indicate that either Fournette will not be playing in tomorrows matchup against the New England Patriots, or Wilds will simply be insurance in case the star running back goes down again. Either way, it is something to keep an eye on as the Jaguars announce their inactive report around 90 minutes prior to kickoff tomorrow.
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