The Jaguars (0-2) come home to host the Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at EverBank Field this Sunday at 1 p.m. Jacksonville looks to avoid the dreaded 0-3 start. Before the season began two weeks ago, the Jaguars and Ravens were right in the middle of the pack in NFL power rankings. Since then, the two have trended in opposite directions. Baltimore has looked like the defense-first team they were when the playoffs were always a given. The Jags will search for consistency and an identity to go with a win Sunday.
Jacksonville has started its season with an 0-2 record in three of the last four years. This week can be very telling as to whether the team is more like its week one or week two version.
Sunday will be the 20th meeting. The Jaguars hold the series edge, 11-8. Last November, the Jags pulled off a stunning win with a 53-yard field goal from Jason Myers with no time on the clock. It was one of four field goals that day by the first-year kicker. Cornerback Davon House had two of his four picks from 2015 in the game.
Humble-brag to Ravens fans:
The Ravens have 10 postseason wins since the last time Jacksonville made the playoffs.
Since it’s nearly impossible to brag to this fanbase, we will compliment them on drafting defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan. The Lake City native and Florida State product is looking like a second-round steal in his third pro season. Jernigan was taken 24 picks after the other FSU lineman, Bjorn Werner, who was with the Jaguars during training camp.
Connections to the River City:
Baltimore’s defensive line coach Joe Cullen was in Jacksonville from 2010 through 2012 in the same role with the Jaguars.
Ravens RB Justin Forsett was one of David Caldwell’s first four free agent acquisitions. Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks are the only two players still with the Jags from that 2013 free agent group. After placed on injured reserve to finish Forsett’s one season in Jacksonville, Baltimore signed him a few months later.
Richard Angulo – a throwback name from the Del Rio era – is currently the Ravens tight ends coach. He was a tight end with the Jaguars in 2007 and 2008.
What to Watch:
Blake Bortles needs to minimize the mistakes. He has to be nearly error-free if the Jaguars are going to win. Could 50 attempts like last week be too much? Possibly 35 to 40 pass attempts is better suited for No. 5.
The LEOs have been Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue with one start each. The team needs that Fowler performance of a career-high 6 tackles and two sacks in San Diego. And Jacksonville has one turnover forced this season; Ngakoue’s strip-sack in the second quarter against Philip Rivers.
Do we get the strong Week One performance from the Jaguars?
If trailing in the second half, how does the Jags sideline react?
Trying to Figure Out:
How badly do the Jaguars ache without free agent signee Prince Amukamara in the secondary? He still has the nagging hamstring.
Kelvin Beachum’s injury in the third quarter at San Diego was one of the scariest moments of the young NFL season. Not having him will mean the left side of the line is going to revert back to preseason mode. Luke Joeckel moves to left tackle and Chris Reed – who has been inactive the first two games – becomes the left guard. Or Joeckel could stay at left guard with Patrick Omameh taking the tackle spot, which is what occurred last Sunday.
Through two games, neither side has a 100-yard rusher. With no Chris Ivory, the Jags are averaging 3.2 yards per rush on 37 carries (28 coming from TJ Yeldon). Will running the ball improve?
About the Opponent:
They are coming off a 5-11 season – easily the worst with John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco. Since winning Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore has missed the playoffs two of the past three seasons. However, the Ravens are maybe the least-discussed 2-0 NFL team. Playing the Bills and Browns to start the year can be a confidence boost, but this is a better team than last year’s Ravens. The AFC North will be incredible to watch this season (even the Browns’ troubles). The national pundits think the last month will define Baltimore’s 2016.
Can Jacksonville and Baltimore swap head coaches?
WR Mike Wallace and TE Dennis Pitta vs. the Jaguars secondary.
Pitta trails only Greg Olsen for most receiving yards by a tight end through two weeks. He has been a bright spot for the Ravens after he nearly lost his career to a hip injury. Against the Browns last week, Pitta was a constant third-down producer. Also, Mike Wallace and Larry Fitzgerald are the two wide receivers with three receiving touchdowns in 2016. The Jaguars will need to cover at least one of Wallace and Pitta well to keep Joe Flacco from 300 yards.
This Equals a Win:
Air it out. Let’s have jump balls for Allen Robinson. He missed Wednesday’s practice because of an illness, but Jacksonville’s best chance is to stretch the field to then open up the run.
Start fast and be consistent was the preseason motto for the offense. The Jaguars as a whole need that so they do not lose more fan support Sunday at EverBank Field.
Reduce penalties. Twenty-three from the Jags in two games.
It may not get the Jaguars a win, but have Myles Jack on the field earlier – whether it is at weak-side or middle linebacker. Jack is not a franchise quarterback the team has to protect.
How to Listen:
Frank Frangie, Tony Boselli and Jeff Lageman will provide the call on 1010XL and 92.5 FM with Rick Ballou working the sidelines. The Publix Tailgate show begins three hours before kickoff. The simulcast will be on WGNE 99.9 FM.
Where to Watch:
It will be broadcast regionally on CBS and locally on WJAX 47. The Jaguars get Tom McCarthy and Adam Archuleta for a second straight week. They are hit or miss during a game broadcast, but Archuleta has grown quite a bit as an analyst. Chris Fischer will be the sideline reporter.