The Jacksonville Jaguars are not being given any chance to knock off the New England Patriots on the road this week. It isn’t much of a surprise, but they are coming off of a big performance and win last week against the Miami Dolphins last week. Blake Bortles looks to have taken a big leap forward from last season and he will have to show off every single bit of his potential this week if the Jaguars are going to come out with a 2-1 record.
While they aren’t being given much of a chance, the Jaguars believe that they have a chance to shock the NFL.
Bortles has improved in a big way this season, while the Jaguars have also seen improvement from their running game and defense. They also have a few wide receivers capable of making big plays and Julius Thomas will be coming back into the mix at some point in the near future as well. Jacksonville definitely is headed in the right direction and they can prove that to all of their critics if they can defeat New England.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are going to give the Jaguars’ fits, but that alone won’t beat the Jaguars. Let’s take a look at five keys to this Week 3 matchup for the Jaguars.
1. Blake Bortles Must Take Care of the Football
One of the biggest keys against the Patriots is to take care of the football, which is going to be on Bortles’ shoulders. He has done a much better job this season with the football, but the Patriots are going to do everything they can to put pressure on him and force him to make quick decision. Bortles has to stay calm under the pressure that will come his way and focus on making smart passes.
2. T.J. Yeldon Must Provide Consistent Run Support
T.J. Yeldon is the Jaguars’ talented rookie running back out of Alabama and has done a good job so far this season. He isn’t going to be the player that powers Jacksonville to a win this week, but putting up consistent yardage on the ground would be a huge help to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense. New England’s run defense is spotty, which should give Yeldon some chances to make a big play or two throughout the game.
3. The Defense Must Make Things Tough on Gronk
Rob Gronkowski is without question the best tight end in the NFL and Tom Brady has been looking to him early and often throughout their first two games. Jacksonville isn’t going to be able to “stop” Gronk, but they have to figure out a way to make him work for each and every reception that he makes. New England cannot be allowed to march up and down the field with ease because Brady and Gronkowski are out on the field playing a game of catch during the game.
4. Confidence is Key
Even if the Jaguars make a mistake, they have to make that mistake with confidence against a team like the Patriots. They cannot afford to play scared of the team that many believe will blow them out of the water. Gus Bradley preaches confidence, but they really have to heed their coach and understand that confidence is key this week.
5. Take What the Patriots’ Defense Gives You
The only way to have a successful offensive performance against the Patriots is to take what they give you. They don’t have a dominant defense this season and the Jaguars have to take advantage of that fact. Not forcing the action and taking things slowly will get the Jaguars much farther than trying to make big plays throughout the course of the game.