It's safe to say that things haven’t gone well early on this season for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A 1-5 start and an offense so horrifyingly gruesome that it looks like it belongs in a Saw film has led to a riled up fan base. There’s now a ton of heat on head coach Jack Del Rio, whose coaching career in Jacksonville appears to be on life support.
And with a Monday night matchup with the Baltimore Ravens (4-1) looming, things can very quickly go from bad to worse.
The Ravens are allowing a league-best 4.5 yards per play. The Jaguars are averaging a league-worse 260 yards of total offense per game. It’s a recipe for disaster and this game could fan the flames on Del Rio’s hot-seat if things get out of hand in front of a national audience.
As Danny Tuccitto in Football Outsiders points out (can’t reveal too much because it’s pay to view), the Ravens’ defense tremendous is ranks among the top of the league in nearly every statistical category. They win the battle on first and second downs and force opponent into unmanageable third down situations.
The game that Baltimore lost (to Tennessee) was a defensive hiccup in which they got beat deep by Tennessee Titans because the secondary was looking too intently to stop the run, which is what they’ll do against the Jaguars. That’s Jacksonville’s only chance in winning the game, they have to get a few breaks on deeps passes.
That’s because the Ravens are so dominant up front. Led by the gargantuan front line of Terrance Cody (6-4, 340) and Haloti Ngata (6-4, 330), Baltimore is unmovable up front and will make life very difficult on Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville’s top offensive weapon.
On the other end, Baltimore has enough to create mismatches with Jacksonville’s solid defense. The Ravens are a fairly balanced team, but they have yet to hit their stride on offense, ranking in the middle of the pack (13th overall) in yards per game.
Ray Rice is an explosive, Maurice Jones-Drew-sized runner. Like Jones-Drew, he invites contact and is excellent out of the back field, although Rice is a little more agile and not quite as powerful. He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry in Baltimore’s four wins, so he’s definitely a key component .
Quarterback Joe Flacco is a bit of an enigma. He’s physically gifted and has all the measurable you could want in a QB and has thrown six touchdowns to two interceptions in Baltimore’s four wins. However, he’s completing just 51 percent of his passes…those are Blaine Gabbert numbers.
That being said, Flacco does enough to get the Ravens victories and if he can muster up just a couple scores, that should be enough to beat the Jaguars.
Now, if Flacco gets hot, the Jaguars might be in trouble. The team’s offense cannot sustain drives and will struggle mightily against this stout Baltimore defense. And if the Jaguars lose an embarrassing fashion, as expected, Del Rio might be coaching his last game with the Jaguars.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Blaine Gabbert, Football, Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Maurice-Jones Drew, NFL, Ray Rice
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