JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An awful lot has changed since the San Diego Chargers beat the Jaguars 38-14 in week four of last season. This year the Chargers started the season at 2-2 but have since lost their last six games to drop to 2-8. Their six game skid is the longest current streak in the NFL. While the Chargers come to Jacksonville struggling, the Jaguars are riding their first winning streak since 2013.
In spite of their record Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers is still playing at a high level. He’s had a number of his offensive weapons in and out of the lineup due to injuries. The Jaguars know he’s a threat no matter who he’s throwing to.
“I’ll tell you what, the guy is phenomenal,” said Jaguars coach Gus Bradley.” I think what’s been impressive with him is that they’ve had some injuries at the wide-out spot, tight end spot and he still stays the same—very, very productive. One of the top offenses in the League, he’s playing at a high, high, high level and regardless of who’s in there he makes that offense go. His precision. He commands the whole offense. They go no-huddle and he runs that part of it as well so he just has complete control of the offense, knows defenses, the looks he’s getting and where to go with the ball.”
Rivers threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns in their win over the Jaguars last season. The Jaguars were only able to sack him twice on his 39 pass attempts, because he gets rid of the ball so quickly.
“I think you have an idea of the guys that are going to be playing quite a bit and the matchups and things like that,” said Bradley. “It’s still a challenge because they take shots. I know his average time of getting the ball off is under 2.3 seconds, so he gets rid of the ball fast but he takes his shots too. That’s what he did against us last year.”
The Jaguars have struggled against defending tight ends this season. Delanie Walker caught eight passes for 119 yards during last week’s win over the Titans. Antonio Gates is likely headed to Canton one day. He caught just one pass for six yards in the Chargers loss to Kansas City last Sunday but the Jaguars know he can still be dangerous.
“Yeah he’s still a handful, said Jaguars defensive coordinator Bob Babich. I think he’s only played in five games this year. I’m not sure but once again he is a seasoned vet, he knows how to get open, he knows how to body you up, he knows where to put his body in position to make catches, so we have an awful lot of respect for him.”