Jaguars Preview: Home Opener

Entering Week Two following one of the bigger wins in franchise history in the last seven seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) host AFC South rival Tennessee Titans (0-1) Sunday at EverBank Field.  Winning a season opener for the first time since Shad Khan has owned the team, the Jaguars have momentum this city has not seen since vying for the division crown in December of 2010.  The Titans lost their opener in Nashville to the Oakland Raiders, 26-16.  In a game that was tight over the first 45 minutes of play, the Raiders rode running back Marshawn Lynch for 10 carries in the final quarter.  The Jaguars look to open 2-0 for the first time since the 2006 season.  Jacksonville and Tennessee can be seen on CBS at 1 p.m. this Sunday.

Meeting:

In the Jaguars final home game of 2016 on Christmas Eve, the Jaguars dismantled the Titans, 38-17.  Led by Blake Bortles’ 325 passing yards – a team record versus Tennessee – and nine receptions for 147 yards by Allen Robinson, the black and teal scored on seven of their 12 possessions.  In Doug Marrone’s first game as the Jaguars head coach, his squad scored in every quarter and had kicker Jason Myers nail four field goals (with two coming from 50 and 56 yards).  Cornerback Jalen Ramsey sealed the victory with a 30-yard pick-six of Titans QB Matt Cassel.

Team Connections: 

Titans head coach Mike Mularkey was the Jaguars head man during the 2012 season.  A 2-14 record with Jacksonville sent Mularkey to an early chopping block and to the Titans one year later.  Going 9-7 in 2016, Mularkey is in his second full season as Tennessee’s head coach.

Safety Johnathan Cyprien was drafted by the Jaguars in the 2013 second round.  He played his first four years on the First Coast with his 2016 campaign being his best. Cyprien, signed by Tennessee as a free agent, started Week One for the Titans at strong safety.  He played in 83 percent of their defensive snaps, but he will miss several weeks with a hamstring injury.

What to Watch: 

AFC Defensive Player of the Week Calais Campbell recorded a franchise record 4.0 sacks in his Jacksonville debut.  The four-sack total is the third-most for an NFL kickoff weekend.  Six defensive players recorded at least a half-sack in Houston.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette became the first to reach 100 rushing yards in his Jaguars debut.  His ability to reach the first-down marker and keep moving forward make him the focus of the offense.  How will he feed off his first week and being in front of the home crowd?  Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch racked up 76 yards on 18 carries in Nashville last weekend.

With Allen Robinson’s season-ending knee injury, the Jaguars crave more involvement from receivers not named Allen Hurns or Marqise Lee.  Will it be receivers, tight ends or running backs that get more touches with A-Rob gone?

Trying to Figure Out: 

Even though the Jaguars notched their third September win since 2012, the special teams aspect has room for growth.  Kicker Jason Myers has been cut from this roster by a good percentage of fans.  In close games, he could be the X-factor.  And will Marqise Lee continue as the punt returner considering A-Rob’s injury will force Lee to be more of an offensive producer?

Quarterback Blake Bortles threw for a career-low 21 passes and only 125 yards.  What’s the ceiling for pass attempts and yardage for the Jaguars to win?  However, in the best-case scenario, Bortles did not have a turnover Sunday.

What’s the red-zone plan?  With Myers’ struggles – one extra-point miss and a field goal miss in the first game, do the Jaguars make inside the five- or ten-yard-line four-down territory?

About the Opponent: 

The Titans lost to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, 26-16 with Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio booting four field goals – two from 52 yards out.  For three quarters the Titans were right there with the highly-touted Raiders.  Tennessee was only able to find the end zone once, and that was in the first quarter.  The Titans became the first team since 2009 to open the season with an onside kick, which Oakland recovered.  Derek Carr was sacked twice by the Titans defense facing a Raiders offensive line that was hailed as one of the best in 2016.

Lockdown Matchup:

Titans signal-caller Marcus Mariota broke his leg in last December’s game in Jacksonville. Coming off a back-and-forth game versus the Oakland Raiders in Nashville, he has 256 passing yards and a rushing touchdown.  The Jaguars front seven will need to pay attention to Mariota’s arm AND legs.  Containing Mariota will dictate how involved the run game of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry gains.

This Equals a Win: 

The offensive line playing anywhere close to their performance in Houston.  Sunday marked the seventh time in the past 10 seasons the Jags have not allowed a sack on their quarterback.  To hold the Texans front seven to such little pressure on Bortles was more than a pleasant surprise.  If the line can repeat some of Week One, then the Titans offense may be in watch-mode at EverBank Field.

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 at 10 a.m. The game simulcast will be on WGNE 99.9 FM.  J.P. Shadrick and Mike Dempsey work the pregame show, which includes interviews with Jaguars players and coaches.  If you have been busy all week, it’s the way to being all-knowing in regards to Sunday’s home opener.

Where to Watch: 

The Jaguars-Titans will air on CBS and locally on WJAX 47 at 1 p.m. Sunday.  Spero Dedes will provide the play by play with Adam Archuleta for color commentary.  Sellers Shy will report from the sidelines.