By Jeff Kane
Follow Jeff on Twitter @BostonFatGuy
The New England Patriots will welcome the young Jacksonville Jaguars to Gillette Stadium Sunday at one. On Paper this looks like a mismatch for the reigning Super Bowl champions, and it very much could be. The Jags are building a young nucleolus around second year signal caller Blake Bortles. While the Patriots have arguable the greatest coach and quarterback of all time. Lets take a look at what to watch for.
Allen Robinson vs. Malcolm Butler.
The two young players are starting to become household names. Robinson had a career game versus the Dolphins last week. At 6’3″ and 215 lbs he is a large target for Bortles. Last week against the Dolphins, Robinson had two touchdowns, on six catches and 155 yards. In his second season he is becoming the go to man in the Jags offense. Malcolm Butler will most likely be tasked with slowing him down. Butler, who burst on the seen with his interception in the Super Bowl, had his first career pick in the regular season last week against the Bills. While Butler had some trouble week one against Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, he did make some plays. Each player will make his plays as all good players do, but Butler should make more.
Patriots pass rush vs Jags Offensive Line
Last week the Pats had eight sacks of Tyrod Taylor. While Blake Bortles isn’t as big of a threat to run as Taylor, he still can escape when need be, as evidence of his six carries for 55 yards on the season will tell you. Last season the Jags offensive line gave up 55 sacks of Bortles. The trend looked to be continuing in week one, as the Panthers got after the Jags to the tune of five sacks. Last week however the Dolphins were goose egged in the sack department. For the Patriots to be successful in the game, they will need to pressure Bortles, so he cant develop the deep pass to Robinson and Allen Hurns.
Dion Lewis continued development
This game for the Patriots should again feature more of Lewis than LeGarrette Blount. Lewis is a better fit for what the Patriots are doing on offense right now. Blount will get his touches this week and in future weeks, but this is a game where the shifty Lewis will be used to run and catch the ball out of the back field. Last week against the Bills he did a fine job running, but his pass receiving was special. As highlighted below on a beautiful pitch and catch from Tom Brady.
Lewis ability to run and catch will help the Patriots stay in the same personal while changing up the formations. The key for Lewis is to come away from this game clean, meaning no turnovers as fumbles have happened in each of the first two games.
Patriots Defense vs TJ Yeldon.
The rookie out of Alabama had 70 yards on 25 carries last week. While those are pedestrian numbers, it shows that he is becoming the work horse for the Jags team. The Patriots through two weeks are 28th in the NFL giving up 147 yards per game. The Pats need to do a much better job at holding the edge. The spotlight will be on Rob Ninkovich, who has struggled in the area through the first couple of weeks.
Ninkovich gets sucked in too far on the above play and lets D’angelo Williams bounce it outside. The Patriots need to contain this, and one way might be to have Jabaal Sheard starting in place of Nink. Sheard has shown pass rushing moves as well as the ability to stay strong on the edge.
Jags pass rush vs the Patriots offensive line.
Through two games the young Patriots interior line has looked very good against some good defenses, most notably last week against the Bills. The Jags on obvious passing situations, have been using a “Wide 9” defense setting their defensive ends up wide of the tackles, while pushing their defensive tackles, to play head up on the guards, and then attacking the “B” gaps. Below we see this defense used in a sack of Cam Newton.
This is important for the Patriots as blocking assignments become different. Rookie center Dave Andrews will need to have his offensive line mates line up in the correct protection calls. While the pressure will not come up the middle, the middle of the offensive line must be ready for defenders to attack from different angles.
Gus Bradley is doing a fine job of building his team into a contender. The Jags have some names on offense that you will know by the end of the game, as highlighted above. On defense the Jags use a fair amount of cover three zone defense, that Bradley helped make famous in Seattle. The defenders to watch for are Paul Posluszny and Johnathan Cyprien. Jaguars corner Davon House is going to have his hands full with Julian Edelman. Watch for old friend Sergio Brown to get “thrown out da club” again by Rob Gronkowski. In the end the Patriots are just too strong for the Jags and I am predicting that the Pats will win this one 41-17. Tune into my podcast Patriots Beat to hear my full breakdown of the Patriots vs Jags, as well as a recap of the Bills Game.
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