Here are three keys to victory for the Jets this Sunday when they play the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
1) Challenge the boundaries with Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell
There obviously won’t be any free lunches against the Jaguars’ star-studded defense that includes a ridiculous six Pro Bowlers/All-Pro, but Gang Green might have a shot at success with their outside zone runs.
Powell and Crowell have been a solid tandem (4.5 yards per carry for each of them), so it makes sense to lean on them early to take some heat off Sam Darnold and ultimately open up passing lanes. The Jaguars might rank 21st against the run, but a closer look at the numbers reveals a stout bunch. Running backs have only averaged 3.9 yards per carry on 68 attempts against Jacksonville. Take out Saquon Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown scamper in Week 1 and that average drops to 2.9.
That being said, the Jets might be able to find success on stretch runs. They better if they’re going to have a realistic shot at pulling off the upset.
2) Stop Leonard Fournette
Give me “Well… duh” for $500, Alex.
It’s no secret that the Jags’ offense will go through their 6-0, 228-pound bell cow running back, who is expected to return from a hamstring injury that he suffered in the season opener.
The Jets have done a decent job against the run through three games (3.9 yards per carry), but Fournette presents an altogether different challenge.
“He’s a hell of a back,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “You got to wrap up and bring the boys. Because he breaks a lot of tackles and spins out of a lot of tackles.”
Fournette averaged 3.6 yards per carry (24 carries for 86 yards) in last year’s loss at MetLife Stadium. He did, however, have 4 receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown.
3) Make sure Blake Bortles doesn’t beat you with his feet
Bortles might not be the worst quarterback that ever lived, but he can be easily rattled. He can also torch you if you overlook him. Just ask the Patriots, who were carved up for 376 yards and four touchdowns.
Inconsistency has marked Bortles’ career. Just when you think he might be good, he throws in a clunker like last week when he somehow averaged 4.6 yards per pass attempt in a 9-6 loss to the Titans.
Bortles had one of his worst games of the season against the Jets last year. Jet pass rushers need to be careful not to get overzealous against a guy who’s only been sacked four times this season.