Week 17 Tale of the Tape: Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
- OffenseThere’s little doubt that Blake Bortles has improved quite a bit this season, but that doesn’t mean he has moved into an elite class of quarterbacks. Bortles has solid numbers for the season as he has completed 300-of-489 passes for 3,529 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. However, his decision-making process is still an issue and he will still throw the ball into coverage for no reason.We are going to give Marcus Mariota the benefit of the doubt and say that he has not been healthy all year and that he should be a much better quarterback when he gets back to training camp next summer. Mariota has a 12-15 TD-interception ratio, and that’s not good enough. Mariota must limit his turnovers in this game if the Titans are going to survive and make the playoffs.
- OffenseIf the Jaguars are going to make any noise in the postseason, they will be much better off depending on rookie Leonard Fournette and the running game rather than the passing of the inconsistent Bortles. Fournette combines power and speed and has rushed for 971 yards and nine touchdowns. Keelan Cole has caught 38 passes for 715 yards and three TDs, with 11 plays of 20 yards or more.The Titans have been adequate, but much more was expected this year. While some of it is on Mariota, the running attack has not been at the level that was expected and the receiving talent is simply not good enough. Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray (leg, LCL) should be a dominant pair of running backs, but they are slightly above average. Rishard Matthews is developing into a decent receiver.
- DefenseThe Jaguars have become one of the most fearsome defensive units, but that doesn’t mean they are infallible. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took apart the Jacksonville defense in a 44-33 Niners victory, and that’s troubling with the playoffs around the corner. Defensive end Calais Campbell has 14.5 sacks while Yannick Ngakoue has 12.0 sack and six forced fumbles.The Titans don’t have the bulk and power that many of the top defenses have, but they have plenty of speed and athleticism, and that’s how they are going to get things done in this game. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard has a team-high 119 tackles and 5.0 sacks, while free safety Kevin Byard had six interceptions and 20 passes defensive. Derrick Morgan has a team-high 7.5 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Jaguars have done fairly well with their coverage teams, and Jaydon Mickens has shown he can break a long punt return for a touchdown. Josh Lambo has had a major turnaround, connecting on 18 of 19 FG attempts. Brad Nortman is averaging 44.3 yards per punt.Adoree Jackson has explosive speed and fine moves, and while he hasn’t broken a long return for a touchdown, he has helped the Titans improve in this area. Ryan Succop has had a few problems, and has made 32-of-39 FG attempts. Strong-legged Brett Kern is averaging 50.7 yards per punt.
If the Titans win they are in the playoffs, so that means the Jaguars should expect their best effort. While Tennessee will play hard, they don’t always play well. Look for Jacksonville to take advantage of their mistakes.