On Sunday, most of America is probably going to be rooting for the Jacksonville Jaguars to de-throne the New England Patriots. It’s an easy team to root for when going against the Dynasty because everyone loves an underdog taking out the big bad champ. What most of America probably doesn’t know however, is that the Jaguars are built to beat teams like the New England Patriots and quarterbacks like Tom Brady.
They don’t need to blitz
When the Patriots have struggled offensively, it’s been because teams are able to get pressure on Brady and hit him rushing just four defensive players. That is what the Jaguars do and it’s what the Jaguars have done all season. Sure they’ll throw in a few stunts on the defensive line or some blitzes from the defensive backs, but by in large the Jaguars are going to rush four and cover with their back seven. Those are the teams that have given Brady fits in the regular season, in the playoffs, whenever. Teams that can pressure and hit him just rushing four tend to neutralize his ability and make him a mere mortal. When he starts getting pressure consistently and getting hit, you start seeing him misfire and this is a defense that turns misfires into points.
Interior pressure by the Jags is better
Coupled with the Jaguars ability to just rush four and get home, they have a unique ability to collapse the pocket from the interior, which is even worse for a quarterback like Brady. Brady gets the ball out lightning quick, which can slow down a pass rush, but against interior pressure with the players the Jaguars have coming off the edge is especially bad for Tom. He can move and slide in the pocket, but he’s not mobile at all. This means the defensive line can pin their ears back on pass downs and not worry about him hurting them on the run like someone like say... Ben Roethlisberger or Tyrod Taylor would. Players like Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell can just pin their ears back and penetrate, forcing Brady to slide into the likes of Yannick Ngakour or Dante Fowler, Jr.
The Patriots receivers are mediocre at best
I’m sure you see there is a central theme going on, but since the Jaguars can rush with just their front four, they’re able to mix up coverages on the back end. They can man up on the outside and take away the Patriots wide receivers, or just sit in a zone and keep everything in front of them and force Brady to make tight throws down the field. The biggest threat in the passing game is going to end up being Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots backs out of the backfield, the latter of which has been an issue for the Jaguars this season. Those areas will likely be what the Patriots try to exploit, but as far as the receiver match up it should be a much easier day than what they faced last week against the Steelers.
The mystique of the Patriots is better than they are
Maybe I’m getting a little too in the moment, but I genuinely think that the Steelers are a better team than the Patriots this year and the Jaguars handled them, twice, on the road. The second game was a lot closer on the scoreboard than it really was on the field, as the Jaguars jumped out to a 21-0 lead and the Steelers had three to four season highlight worthy individual plays in a single game. The mystique of the Patriots this year is a lot better than the actual Patriots are. Now, the Patriots are still obviously a good football team, but they’re not that juggernaut that we’re all used to seeing the last decade. They’re still a top offense in the league, but it’s not so much better than everyone else like it has been in the past. They’re vulnerable and they can be controlled.
Jaguars offense is what gives New England trouble
It’s not all because of the defense that I feel like the Jaguars are built to beat New England, but it’s also the way they play offense. The Patriots struggle against the run and the pass, but they do a nice job of limiting teams points. The Jaguars on the other hand shine when they’re in the redzone, especially quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jaguars also run the ball well, overall. I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t say a few weeks ago the Jaguars No. 1 rush offense was fraudulent, but in a game against the Patriots the way the Jaguars get their rushing yards is going to be a big key. The Jaguars will want Bortles to run, they’ll want to pound Leonard Fournette at New England and hit them with play action. Those are the things the Patriots have struggled with and when Bortles is “on” those are the areas the Jaguars can just dominate other teams.
The things that have given New England fits traditionally are all things the Jaguars not only do well, but are the best at. This is a team built to beat teams like New England. Now we just need to play the game.