JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After three weeks of training camp the Jaguars will finally get a chance to hit somebody other than a teammate. Their first opportunity comes on Thursday night in the preseason opener against the New York Jets.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
TV: Channel 4
Radio: WJXL 1010-AM/92.5-FM
Here are three things the Jaguars must do when they take the field at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Establish an offensive rhythm:
Starting fast is something that has plagued the Jaguars going back to last season. Even during practice the offense takes a while to get going. Blake Bortles and the rest of the starters will likely only get a series or two at most against the Jets.
While they’re on the field they need to show improvement in the running game, avoid any three-and-outs and protect the football. Even if the first team offense doesn’t reach the end-zone. Getting all three of those things done would make for a solid night.
Force a couple of turnovers:
Throughout minicamp, OTA’s and training camp the Jaguars defense has shown the ability to create turnovers. The addition of free safety Tashaun Gipson has changed the complexion of the secondary. The same can be said with what Dante Fowler Jr. has shown by rushing the passer. If the Jaguars are able to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks that will force them into bad passes/decisions. With Gipson roaming the back end of the defense, the Jaguars will be in position to force more turnovers. An interception or recovered fumble would be a huge boost of confidence for this group.
Get the young guys up to speed:
There’s a lot of excitement about Jaguars defense for the first time in a long time. For Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Sheldon Day, Yannick Ngakoue and Fowler. This will be their first NFL game. All five have looked good during training camp and it will be good to see them compete against non-teammates. Ramsey and Fowler will likely only play a couple of series at most.
I would expect the other three to play well into the second half. At middle linebacker, Jack has a ton of responsibilities and getting game repetitions will only enhance his development. During the regular season Day and Ngakoue will be used in the Jaguars defensive line rotation. Gus Bradley and his staff will be very happy if either is able to generate a pass rush or pick up a sack.