The defense? Masterful.
The offense? Explosive.
Special teams? Solid.
Who stood out in the Week 2 home opener? Let’s find out!
1. Blake Bortles
I’m done talking about Blake and this offense before the game. I’m done. This offense imploded when they lost Leonard Fournette before halftime in Week 1 and I thought they’d limp their way to a close victory that included another defensive score. And then Blake made me look stupid and dumb. Go dance on my grave, Blake. Go lower your helmet and spin away from defenders and drop dimes to Keelan Cole and out Tom Brady Tom Brady in front of nearly 70,000 screaming fans in what was the hottest recorded game in franchise history (and the hottest in the NFL since 2003). Blake is inconsistent, but when he plays like he did yesterday — 64% completion percentage, 8.4 yards per pass attempt, 4:1 touchdown to turnover ratio, and zero sacks — the Jaguars are unbeatable... even without their star running back.
2. Keelan Cole
A true No. 1 wide receiver, Cole made the best catch I’ve ever seen. The Odell Beckham, Jr. catch at least made sense in terms of physics. Cole’s catch makes zero sense when you factor in actual science. I mean... look at it.
I literally dropped my phone and froze when I saw this in real time. I didn’t yell or scream or punch the air, I just froze because my body didn’t know how to react.
3. Tashaun Gipson
The Jaguars threw a lot of different looks at Rob Gronkowski but free safety Tashaun Gipson was the primary guy responsible for erasing him out of the game, leaving him with just two catches and 15 yards on four targets.
“All week on TV, I saw people saying, ‘Who’s going to stop him?’’’ Gipson said according to Jaguars.com. “I heard Jalen [Ramsey]. I heard Myles Jack. Nobody ever mentioned me. It kind of hurt my feelings. Maurice-Jones Drew hurt my feelings; he didn’t even give me a chance to go at him.”
4. Corey Grant
The undrafted running back picked up right where he left off in the AFC Championship Game, racking up 69 total yards on just 10 total touches. Those touches were important, extending multiple drives and wearing down a Patriots defense that (still) had no answer for him.
5. Dante Fowler
He did it again. Fowler did it again, rising to the occasion and providing what I believe to be the most significant moment of the game.
Up just 24-13 early in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars were watching their three-touchdown lead disappear. Brady had scored 10 unanswered points and he was 24 yards away from making it a one score game. Bortles had just thrown one of his few poor passes of the afternoon — a misplaced ball to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in double coverage — and the defense had to get back on the field after just a two-play, 47 second break.
On third-and-9, Brady dropped back and Fowler got past his man, strip-sacked the future Hall of Fame quarterback, and then recovered the fumble while being pulled backwards.
In the same play, Fowler displayed awareness, technique, and raw strength.
Bury me, Dante.
6. Dede Westbrook
Going into the fourth quarter, Cole was the only receiver who had truly showed up. The tight ends were providing good targets and Donte Moncrief caught a touchdown, but Cole was it consistently from a receiving standpoint.
And then Westbrook happened.
He took a simple crossing route and ran 61 yards for a touchdown against a tired Patriots defense.
Extra credit to Cole for providing incredible down field blocking.
7. D.J. Hayden
Hayden has played better than expected so far this season and is on track to be well worth his $9.45 million guaranteed for the year. He broke up the fourth down pass to Beckham last week and was a part of the rotation that kept Gronkowski at bay yesterday. He finished with four tackles (two for a loss) and a sack and has made several impact plays in the secondary already.
8. Myles Jack
Last, but certainly not least, is The Man Who Wasn’t Down. Myles was everywhere yesterday just as he was last week — helping in both run support and pass coverage, Myles is growing leaps and bounds in his understanding of where he needs to be and is still so, so quick in getting there. He and Telvin Smith tied for a team-high eight tackles yesterday — but it was Myles who stood out in terms of being able to read and react to what defenses were doing, especially running backs.
Myles Jack ability to read through the traffic is extremely underrated. He finds the gap and meets Burkhead in hole without even seeing him. pic.twitter.com/x89iiRAvJ7— Another Jags Podcast (@AnotherJagsPod) September 17, 2018
He’s a star, folks.
9. Wiggle Man
Headed to church. Again, taking no chances.— Wiggle Man (@Wiggle_Man) September 16, 2018
Thank you again for your service, Wiggle Man.