JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars will try to bounce back from a loss to the Tennessee Titans as they host the New York Jets Sunday at TIAA Bank Field. It's the third consecutive home game for the Jaguars, who have talked all week about finishing the first quarter of the season at 3-1. Here are my four biggest questions heading into the game:
Does Leonard Fournette return to the lineup for the first time in three weeks?
Fournette pulled a hamstring in the season opener against the Giants. He missed the rest of that game, and was inactive for the Jaguars' win over the New England Patriots and the loss to Tennessee. He worked more in practice this week than in previous weeks, but hamstrings can be nagging injuries that sometimes can keep a player out far longer than anticipated. The Jaguars have shown that they can beat teams without Fournette in the lineup, but his presence was missed last week against Tennessee when the Jaguars lost for the first time in five games with Fournette out of action, including last season. If Fournette does not return, the Jaguars will have to rely on an injured T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant in the ground game, which would likely mean a bigger load on Blake Bortles, as was the game plan against the Patriots.
Does the intensity return?
Against New England, everybody in town knew the importance of the game. The rematch of the AFC championship game had the city buzzing before, during and after the Jaguars' win. Against Tennessee, despite it being an AFC South matchup, the energy was lacking in the stands and on the field. After the Jaguars' offense struggled early, the air went out of the balloon. The Jaguars need some early success on offense to inject more energy into the stadium. It also wouldn't hurt if the defense forced an early turnover.
Can they catch it?
Drops have been an issue early in the year for the receiving corps. Keelan Cole's amazing catch against New England aside, there have also been too many catchable balls that were not hauled in. Perhaps the Jaguars won't need to throw the ball much against the Jets, but when they do, the receivers, backs and tight ends must make a play. They need to help out their quarterback because Bortles is at his best when he can get into a rhythm. It can only happen if the Jaguars convert third downs and keep drives alive.
Can the Jaguars defense record sacks and turnovers?
In the first three games of the season, the Jaguars defense has recorded seven sacks and has forced only three turnovers. Not exactly the stuff of legends. The defense has had its moments. Myles Jack's interception return for a touchdown against the New York Giants on opening day--the only interception of the season so far and Calais Campbell's two first half sacks of Blaine Gabbert last week against the Titans qualify, but while the Jaguars defense isn't giving up many points--it leads the league in fewest touchdowns allowed--it hasn't made the impact plays as often as it did last year. Will Sunday see a return to form?