Getting To Know The Jags

It might be difficult for most Patriots fans to know much about the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have had one primetime game a year over the last few seasons, and those have been some of the worst Thursday night matchups on the docket.

You might know their quarterback. Blake Bortles was the first QB taken in the 2014 draft; ahead of both Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.

Other than that, you might not know much about the guys down in Duval County, Florida.

So with that being the case, here’s a quick cheat sheet on some faces to keep in mind when watching this Sunday:

Head Coach: Gus Bradley was hired by the Jags in 2013 and hasn’t faired all that well. The Jags have a .235 win percentage in that span, tied for 2nd-worst in all of football behind the lowly Bucs. Bradley was hired due to his four year stint as the defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks. In his final year as the ‘Hawks DC, Seattle gave up the fewest points in the league and the fourth fewest yards. It’s obviously not fair to put the Jaguars poor record all on Bradley, as he has worked with inferior talent for much of his head coaching career.

On Offense:

T.J. Yeldon: You might remember Yeldon from his days with Nick Saban at Alabama. Yeldon has been off to a slow start to his rookie campaign, racking up just 60.5 rush yards per game with no touchdowns. Having said that, Yeldon sees the ball a lot in this Jags offense, as he has touched the ball 43 times so far in 2015 (7th-most in NFL). Due to the Patriots leaky run defense, expect the Jags to try and pound the rock on Sunday. Running the ball effectively would be a huge win for Jacksonville. If they can control time of possession they keep the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands.

Allen Robinson: Robinson had a huge day last week against Miami despite drawing the Dolphins top CB Brent Grimes. The Patriots don’t have anyone on the roster that has as good of coverage skills as Grimes, so expect Robinson to be a key focus of the Patriots defense. Robinson’s 26.0 yards per reception ranks 2nd-best in the NFL, and the Jags have targeted him at least 10 times in two of his last three games.

Allen Hurns: Hurns has put together a nice start to his career despite being on one of the league’s worst offensive teams. His 64.0 yards per game and 9 receptions are second on the team only to Robinson.

On Defense:

Paul Posluszny: Posluszny spent his first four years in Buffalo, and when healthy, has been near the top of the league in tackles. He has had over 100 tackles in a season three times in his career, and has 15 already in 2015. In 2013, Posluszny tallied 162 tackles for the Jaguars, ranking him just behind Cincy’s Votaze Burfict for the league lead. The middle linebacker also intercepted a pass in the Jags Week 1 game vs Carolina, and has been on the field for every snap on defense this season.

Jared Odrick: Bill Belichick had high praise for Odrick when asked about him in his weekly press conference. The name might sound familiar, as he spent the last five seasons on the Dolphins. Odrick is a versatile player that can line up both at DE and DT on this Jaguars front, and as Belichick noted, is very difficult to move in the run game. Odrick has done a little bit of everything for the Jags through the first two games, registering 5 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Telvin Smith: The second year linebacker has had a great start to the 2015 season. He leads the team in tackles with 18, which also ranks him in the top ten in the entire NFL. You will see and hear Smith’s name a lot on Sunday. Just like his fellow LB Posluszny, he has been on the field for every defensive snap for the Jags through two games.

As expected, the Patriots will be heavily favored against the 1-1 Jaguars. However, it’s important not to overlook the Jags as they pulled out a win last week against a supposedly superior Dolphins team.

Also, despite having one of the leagues worst offensive teams over the last few years; the Jaguars have ranked middle of the road in most defensive categories. This is an up and coming defense led by a very bright defensive coach.

The Jags haven’t been a very lucky team over the last few years. That bad luck continued when the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 draft, Dante Fowler, tore his ACL in mini-camp. Fowler is a ferocious pass rusher, and will make this defense even better in 2016.

Luckily for the Patriots they won’t have to worry about Fowler on Sunday, but there is enough talent on the Jags roster to give them some problems.