Jacksonville Stifles The Giants’ New Look Offense in Week One of the NFL Season
East Rutherford, NJ — Jacksonville’s 20-15 victory over the New York Giants Sunday afternoon was not as close as the score indicates. The Jaguars played as expected in week one, quarterback Blake Bortles was average, the run game was good , and the defense was dominant. However, due to 11 penalties for 119 yards the Jags came away with the five-point victory.
The biggest storyline from Sunday’s matchup is running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette suffered a right hamstring injury during the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Giants and did not return.
“They said it [the hamstring injury] was in a good part,” head coach Doug Marrone said. “I don’t know if there is any good part of those things. [The injury is] something he felt like he has had before [and] knows how to treat it. That makes things pretty optimistic, where normally I’m not that optimistic.”
The Jaguars were 4-4 on the road in 2017. Starting 2018 with a road win is as good as it gets from a team perspective. However, there are some concerns going forward due to Jacksonville’s schedule.
Jacksonville is in first place in the AFC South as Indianapolis, Houston, and Tennessee took losses on Sunday.
Bortles and Company
When it comes to pass offense, run offense, pass defense, and run defense; the Jags pass offense has the most to improve from last season and week one of this season. Bortles was good enough to get the victory Sunday, but 15 points will not get it done week in and week out.
All teams will look to find a rhythm and cement their identity within the first month of the season. However, Jacksonville doesn’t have time to play around with New England coming to town Sunday, Tennessee the following week.
Most notably, the Jags need to find a go-to receiver outside of the hash marks. Only nine of Bortles 33 pass attempts were to receivers on the outside. Bortles found himself throwing to the running backs a lot as T.J. Yeldon led the team in targets (7) and had Jacksonville’s lone touchdown on a one-yard pass.
The Running Back Situation
Fournette had nine carries for 41 yards, and three catches for 14 yards before leaving the game in the second quarter. Yeldon took over the workload with 14 carries for 51 yards.
The second-year running back told ESPN’s Josina Anderson following the victory that he believes he’ll be able to play next week.
If Fournette cannot go, Yeldon will be the featured back with a sprinkle of Corey Grant. The dynamic of Jacksonville’s will change from a power run-first team to a throw-first team featuring running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Defense is as Advertised
Some of the Giants’ playmakers had good games. Odell Beckham Jr. caught 11 passes for 111 yards, and Saquon Barkley averaged 5.9 yards per carry due to an electric 68-yard touchdown run. Other than that, Jacksonville had a great game defensively.
Sacksonville only registered just two sacks, but they did have two takeaways including a 32-yard pick-six by linebacker Miles Jack.
Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning wasn’t able to get going as the Jags’ secondary is the best in the NFL.
Jacksonville will lean on its defense to more than last year due to the lack of pass catchers and Leonard Fournette’s injury history.
Up Next: Jacksonville welcomes the New England Patriots with open arms. A rematch of the AFC Championship game where the Jags had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, then lost.