The Jacksonville Jaguars will open up the 2015 regular season at home against the Carolina Panthers, where the Jaguars will try to open up with a win for the first time in four years.
Not only would a win be the first time the team has done so in their opener in four years, it would also be the first time the Jaguars have had a winning record, at any point in the season, since 2011. But, a lot has to happen before we go ahead and pencil in a win over the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
The Jaguars were a bit bizarro in the NFL preseason this year, compared to what they were last season. The offense seemed to be hitting on all cylinders, especially in the third preseason game. Blake Bortles appeared to be a completely different player than last season, as most of his plays were controlled and from the pocket rather than broken sand lot plays. The offensive line appeared to be much improved, at least in pass protection, and if that translates to the regular season his play should carry over. Going against the Panthers, they’ll have a nice test in pass protection trying to hold down Charles Johnson and Kony Ealy on the edges.
The worrisome point for the Jaguars heading into Sunday is on the defensive side of the ball, as the pass rush didn’t really show up in the preseason and we really have no idea where the rush is going to come from. It appears second-year LEO Chris Smith will be your early down edge player with Chris Clemons coming in on passing downs, but will the team try to get more creative against a Panthers team who’s No. 1 wide receiver currently is Ted Ginn Jr.?
Sunday appears to be a good matchup for the Jaguars, as the Panthers are a team who appear like they’re going to be very one dimensional early in the season. If the Jaguars can limit Greg Olsen in the passing game and control the Panthers rushing attack, the threats to score will be few and far between. No one on the Panthers offense, outside of Cam Newton’s play making ability with his legs, really scares anyone at this time so at least the worrisome defense should have a game to settle in and figure things out.
Can the Jaguars take advantage of the Panthers question marks and struggles in Week 1?