What Do The Jags Want For Christmas?
As Jaguar fans anticipate Christmas next week, they hope to get everything on their Christmas list. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars have a wish list of their own. The Jags snapped the fourth-longest current postseason drought via dominating the Houston Texans at EverBank Field, 45-7. Having already clinched their first playoff since 2007, the Jaguars want more.
First off, Congratulations to the following Jaguars making the Pro Bowl:
- A.J Bouye
- Jalen Ramsey
- Malik Jackson
- Calais Campbell
To be clear the Jaguars don’t need anyone’s respect, all they have to do is keep winning and playing their way. But, it is nice to have respect from their peers, from the media to the common NFL fan. What they’ve accomplished this season is remarkable.
Thus far Jacksonville has the NFL’s third-ranked total defense giving up just 284.1 yards per game. The Jaguars have the league’s top pass defense (168.9 yds/gm), top scoring defense (14.9 pts/gm), and lead the league in sacks with 51. Also, the Jags have registered 31 turnovers including 20 interceptions; both are second best in the NFL. And while the most important down in football is third down, Jacksonville has the third-ranked third down defense at 32.3%.
The greatness of Jacksonville’s defense cannot be denied. However, the Jags offense is the reason some are slow to give Jacksonville their due. Jags quarterback Blake Bortles still has his doubters, with some questioning his ability and the Jags offense as a whole.
The Jaguars has the NFL’s sixth-ranked total offense, posting 368.1 yards per contest and the league’s fifth-ranked scoring offense, scoring 26.7 points per game. The strength of Jacksonville’s offense is their rushing attack; the Jaguars lead the league in rushing with 149.1 yards a game.
If those marks were earned by any other team not named Cleveland, that team would be regarded as one of the top teams in the league and Jacksonville is not. They can change the narrative by bullying teams in the playoffs, as they’ve done recently.
Super Bowl Run
Jacksonville came into the season with aspirations of getting to .500 and becoming a respected franchise around the league. No one foresaw the Jags success this season which started out a magical ‘feel good’ story and has turned into “can Jacksonville win the Super Bowl?”
Some people would scoff at the idea of Jacksonville even going to the Super Bowl. But the notion is very real. If they don’t earn a bye, they’ll have to go through Pittsburgh and New England on the road. However, Jacksonville already beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, and the Patriots will have fits with the Jags defensive line.The Jaguars have two things that travel well, a strong run game and an elite defense.
The question mark is Bortles and his production in the passing game. Its hard to forget all of Bortles’ struggles in the past, coming into this season he lead the league in turnovers with 63 over the past three years.
But the former UCF Knight QB looks completely different this season, especially in the month of December when teams must play their best football. Completing 71 percent of his passes for 903 yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, an NFL-best 128.6 passer rating, and a 3-0 record for December.
Jacksonville can get to and win the Super Bowl with Bortles, its been proven that you don’t necessarily need stellar quarterback play to win a super bowl: 2000 Baltimore Ravens, 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs, 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, and the 2015 Denver Broncos.
After clinching a playoff spot already, the Jags will need help to get a first-round bye. The Jags need Pittsburgh to lose one of the next two games or the Patriots to lose their next two games. This is important because the Jags have been hit by the injury bug pretty hard this season.
It starts with the receiving core, in week one top receiver Allen Robinson went down with a knee injury. Marquise Lee has been battling injuries for most of the season and left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. Allen Hurns missed his fifth straight game due to an ankle injury, and the Jags hope to get him back before the playoffs.
Jacksonville has relied on a trio of rookie receivers to get production recently. Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and Jaydon Mickens will have to step up when called upon and not fold when as the games get bigger.
Jags running back Leonard Fournette missed his third game this season with a quad injury. Fournette had injury concerns coming out of LSU as Jacksonville relied on him heavily to provide balance. The rookie averages 23.6 touches per game when healthy.
Jacksonville will consider limiting his touches or shutting him down so he can be fresh for the playoffs. Although Fournette is a big part of what Jacksonville wants to do; the Jags are 3-0 without Fournette.
Jacksonville is relatively healthy on defense. Linebacker Telvin Smith missed two games due to a concussion, but he’s back now. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is dealing with a nagging groin injury.
Health will be vital for Jacksonville going forward; they’ll need all hand on deck to make a run in the playoffs.