The Jacksonville Jaguars defense will, in my opinion, have a relatively strong game against Joe Flacco and the Denver Broncos passing game. This is a defense that is strong up front to absorb blockers with a mix of pure pass rushers and the Big End at defensive end. It is built to stop pure pocket passers that NFL teams have (largely) employed over the past 15 years.
The run game? That will be where this Sunday is won or lost for the Jaguars.
While the total output is below average for the Broncos this season, their top two running backs both rank in the top-25 for rushing yardage totals through the first three weeks of the season.
While the big, bruising Royce Freeman leads the team in rushing yards so far, it’s the small, quick, pass-catching Phillip Lindsay who Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone had the opportunity to speak more about:
“I like both of the running backs,” Marrone said after practice on Wednesday. “I think Lindsay’s good, fast, quick. [Can] Cut, take it to the house. Runs inside, outside. Think you have to get people around him, makes a lot of people miss in space. Can make the first guy miss, so we need a lot of people around him to go. I think he’s a really good all-around back. He catches well, runs inside, runs outside, breaks tackles. A lot of respect for him. Really good football player.”
Lindsay has gotten nine more rushes and five more targets in the pass game but they’re almost dead even in total yardage. Freeman is dangerous, but I think Marrone’s point is that if you take away Lindsay’s advantage as a change-of-pace running back, you also weaken Freeman.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Jaguars defense is able to shut down Lindsay and how their ability (or inability) to do so affects the flow of the game. If you shut down that run game and put the pressure on Flacco, I think it’s an easy win for Jacksonville. If not, it’ll come down to a field goal either way.