It’s finally here: The Jacksonville Jaguars are set to kick off their AFC South Championship-defending 2018 season on Sunday against the New York Giants.
To keep things simple, the Locked On Jaguars staff is here with our first roundtable article of the 2018 season. We will do at least one roundtable a week going forward, and we will start with an easy topic: Season predictions.
Spoiler alert: No one predicts a losing record… duh. Let’s get to the predictions.
How will the Jaguars 2018 season play out?
Zach Goodall: The Jacksonville Jaguars may be the most talented team in the AFC this year across the entire roster, but things won’t come easy for the squad. The strength of the Jaguars schedule has increased from 2017, going from .439 to .477. While the increase isn’t dramatic, it’s definitely a tougher path to venture down in comparison to their 2017 AFC South Championship campaign. It’s also hard to expect the Jaguars to surmount the injury bug for a second straight year, as the team didn’t have many significant injuries plague them in 2017. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but injuries are a part of the game and there shouldn’t ever be an expectation that they won’t happen.
Considering these factors, I have the Jaguars winning the AFC South again, with the same record as last time: 10-6. Technically, with a harder schedule ahead compared to 2017, that would still show improvement compared to last year’s squad. In a weak AFC, even if the Jaguars get hit with some injuries, they should be able to compete for the comference championship.
Chris Thornton: 12-4, AFC South Champions. Now, let me go enjoy New York City.
Demetrius Harvey: In my opinion, the Jaguars will have another 10-6 season this year. The Jaguars upgraded at several positions this offseason, including wide receiver, tight end, and left guard, however their schedule has gotten tougher as well. The defense, while they lost Aaron Colvin, has gotten better. They allowed a total of zero touchdowns this preseason as starters, and that alone is impressive. It is very possible they have the same number of Pro Bowlers on it, if not more. Myles Jack is finally starting at middle linebacker, and as for All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey, the sky is the limit. Overall, I feel as though the Jaguars will finish first in the AFC South with the Titans, Texans and Colts following in that order.
Ruairi Songer: I believe the Jaguars will go 11-5 in 2018. The defense should perform just as well, if not better, than 2017. Ngakoue, Ramsey and Jack all performed admirably last season but all were just second year players who had yet to hit their ceilings. I expect all three to be Pro-Bowl caliber players in 2018. The difference maker this year is the offensive line. With the addition of Andrew Norwell, and improved play from Cam Robinson and AJ Cann, this line could be a top unit in the NFL. This will help take the heat off Bortles, reduce turnovers, and create much more running room up the middle for Leonard Fournette. All signs point to the Jags having an improved season.
Zak Dewitt: I see the Jaguars finishing 9-7 in 2018, winning the AFC South but having the same record as the Titans. How can anyone realistically expect the Jaguars defense to match what it did last year? It’s possible, sure, but hard to set that as the bar. I think the defense will take a natural step back and don’t have a ton of faith in quarterback Blake Bortles to not turn the ball over early in the season, against secondaries such as the Patriots, Titans, Chiefs, and Eagles.
Christian Bedgood: I’m thinking like Zak here, it’s hard to expect the Jaguars defense to repeat their 2017 showing. It was just that good. I’m not confident in Blake Bortles either, and injuries will likely play a bigger role than the minimal effect it had on the Jaguars in 2017. I’m placing my bet on 9-7, but the Houston Texans win the division at 10-6.
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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