We’re inching our way towards the start of the 2018 regular season, kids. And this Saturday, the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) come to town to take on the Minnesota Vikings (1-0) in a game that should be
quite a bit more interesting than slightly more interesting than about as interesting as the opener against the Denver Broncos. We’ve gotten the excitement of real players getting on a real field and playing real, live football out of the way, and so now we just watch to see which players fill out the final dozen or so spots on the team, and pray that nobody gets hurt.
With that, let’s take a look at this week’s opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars! The Jags 2017 season ended, much like the Minnesota Vikings 2017 season, with bitter disappointment. The team held the lead against Brady and the Patriots 20-10 with a little more than three minutes to play, behind touchdowns from Keelan Cole and Leonard Fournette, and a pair of field goals by Josh Lambo (No Relation). But then, Brady be’d Brady, and scored twice in the final two minutes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. On one of the drives, Linebacker Myles Jack appeared to have stripped Dion Lewis of the ball, picked it up, and returned it for a touchdown. However, the officials - sensing that Brady might not make it back to the Super Bowl - blew the play dead. Jacksonville still hasn’t forgotten.
The Jags are coached by Doug Marrone, who came to Jacksonville after exercising a clause in his contract and walking away from the Buffalo Bills. The contract stated that if the team changed hands, Marrone could opt out of his contract and still collect all of his coaching salary. Well played, Doug. Reminds me a bit of another coach. I wonder what Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer would think about a coach doing something like that?
The Jaguars on Offense
OK, so Blake Bortles has been a bit of an enigma thus far in his young career. After being selected third overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bortles career sputtered for a bit. His record as a starter (WINZ!) was just 11-34 through his first three years, and he was sacked 140 times over that period as well. But last year may have been the beginning of great things for Bortles. He led his team to a 10-6 record, bringing them all the way to the AFC Championship before the Patriots ended their season.
He will look to repeat that performance in 2018, this time with some new faces in the receiving core. Gone are Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, a pair of former 1,000 yard receivers who were allowed to leave in Free Agency. In their places on the official depth chart, the Jags are looking at veteran Marqise Lee and second year player Keelan Cole, who came on strong as a rookie late in 2017, putting up 426 receiving yards over the last four weeks of the 2017 regular season. In the offseason, the team also signed veteran Donte Moncrief, however Moncrief is currently listed third on the depth chart.
Listed second is rookie DJ Chark, who has been impressive so far in camp. The former LSU Tiger’s parents were on hand for the teams’ week one game versus the New Orleans Saints. In a pretty neat interview, Chark’s mother said that DJ was running around the living room at six months old, but didn’t want anyone to see him.
Hell, I’m 45 and I still don’t run around my living room. Or anywhere else for that matter.
The Jags’ running attack features another former LSU star, Leonard Fournette. According to reports, Fournette - who ripped off this awesome 90 yard touchdown run last season...
Leonard Fournette made (and ruined) a lot of fantasy weeks with this 90-yard TD run. pic.twitter.com/Jd9OhlIHc2— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 8, 2017
...has reportedly dropped to his lowest weight since high school, 223 pounds. He’s listed at 235 pounds on the 2016 LSU roster, so I’d guess that this year he could be... more... explosive..er? Either way, he’s a fun running back to watch, and the Jags are expecting big things for him this year.
Player with Minnesota ties to watch for on offense: Chris Reed, who was a teammate of Adam Thielen at Minnesota State, is listed second on the Jags depth chart at right guard behind Andrew Norwell. He has appeared in sixteen games for the Jags in two years, and spent some time on their practice squad, as well. Here’s hoping he can carve out a nice career in the NFL!
The Jaguars On Defense
Of all the teams in the NFL, the Jaguars might be the only team that can make a claim of being as good top to bottom defensively as the Minnesota Vikings. Up front, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson and Marcel Dareus, along with rotational players Dante Fowler and Abry Jones combined for 44.5 sacks last season. Myles Jack and Pro-Bowler Telvin Smith can make plays at Linebacker.
And that brings us to the defensive backs. A.J. Bouye came over from the Houston Texans and earned a trip to the Pro-Bowl, and Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church form a great one-two punch at safety.
And that brings us to Jalen Ramsey. Ohhhhh... Jalenjalenjalenjalen...
From the “you may have heard” department: Jalen Ramsey has made more headlines in the last week for his mouth than he ever did playing in a game. The “brash” cornerback began the week by going after Jags beat reporter Phillip Heilman, who had the nerve to report on the fight that broke out between Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler
The events earned Ramsey and Fowler a week off before the season starts. That’ll teach ‘em! They’ll hate not practicing all day in the heat!
But Jalen Ramsey wasn’t done there.
With impeccable timing, GQ magazine released an interview with Ramsey, in which the “brash” young corner went after many NFL quarterbacks including two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning, former League MVP Matt Ryan, and six time Pro Bowler Ben Roethlisberger, using terms like “Odell’s good”, “Overrated”, and “decent at best”, respectively. He even went so far as calling Buffalo Bills rookie Josh Allen “trash”. Allen seemed to almost be holding back tears when he was told about the quote.
Personally, I really liked Ramsey coming out of Florida State... but he’s reaaaally gone beyond being “brash”.
Player with Minnesota ties to watch for on defense: Jalen Myrick is currently listed third on the Jags depth chart at Right Cornerback, behind A.J. Bouye and Tyler Patmon. Myrick played in only five games last year, breaking up one pass. He did, however, participate in the Jaguar’s Minnesota trivia contest, along with tight ends Niles Paul and Ben Koyack. Like a Blake Bortles pass, it sailed along great until the end. Myrick confidently answered that the Twin Cities were made up of Minneapolis, and...
In the words of Tom Jackson... C’MON MAN!!!!!
Useless stuff about the Jags that you might not know.
The Jags are rolling out new uniforms this season, ditching the old “Helmullet”, that gold and black monstrosity that they had been using, and going back to a more traditional look. They seem to like their teal down there in Florida, I guess.
Also new this season is the “tailgating” park for dogs at TIAA Stadium. Yes, you read that right. A tailgating park for dogs at the stadium. Honestly, when I read this, I had to double check that the article wasn’t posted on April 1, and that the pictures hadn’t been Photoshopped. It’s a real thing.
Finally, I need to compliment the Jags on having one of the coolest mascots in all of sports. Jackson De Ville, who looks strikingly similar to Cheeto’s mascot Chester Cheetah, makes Viktor Viking look like an amateur.
In clip one, he takes us back to the ‘70’s streaker era.
In clip two, he just... well... just check it out.
Ridiculous Quote of the Week
This week’s RQOTW isn’t from anybody in the Jaguars or Vikings organizations, but it is in reference to both teams, and was so bad I had to post it here. It comes from Twitter user @lambeaugraphics
Let’s be honest...Minnesota has a amazing defense only behind Jacksonville i’m terms of dominance. However, Anthony Barr’s deal is done after this year and Minnesota’s cap is just over 5 million. The Vikings have built a great team yet managed the retention of players poorly— L a m b e a u G r a p h i c s ™️ (@lambeaugraphics) August 15, 2018
Wow. I mean, I know it’s a Packer fan, but... wow.