The Jets will look to win their second straight home game and get to .500 for the first time this season as they host the 2-1 Jaguars this Sunday. These aren’t the Jaguars you’ve come to know over the past few years, however. This is a team that is leading the league in net points through three weeks.
To get more on the Jaguars going into the matchup, I asked Ryan Day from Big Cat Country five questions on the team.
1. What is the long-term state of the franchise? Have the expectations finally shifted to the playoffs? Or are there still a few years to go in the rebuild?
The long-term state of the franchise rests on Blake Bortles' shoulders. If Blake is good, this team is a playoff team for the next five years. If Blake isn't good, we're a perennial underachiever. It's frustrating, but it's the reality. Can Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin turn Blake around? He's had two not bad games and one bad one so far. If he continues that ratio, yes, we're a playoff team. But if he backslides and we have to go looking for a replacement in 2018 -- we're a year or two off.
2. The Jags are leading the league in net points, and they've done it against a pretty formidable schedule so far. Do they have legitimate playoff potential?
Their defense is certainly playoff-worthy. This is a top-five defensive unit through three games and the offensive line is near the top of the league in pass protection and good enough in run protection. This is a playoff team, for sure, but like I said before it all depends on if Blake Bortles is the guy or if he isn't.
3. How is Blake Bortles coming along? He was under a ton of scrutiny in the preseason. Is he performing better than expected, and will this be his last year as the starter if he doesn't improve enough?
Here’s the thing about Blake Bortles’ current level of play — he has no current level of play. He had one game where he was nearly invisible, followed up by an awful one, followed up by probably his best career performance. There is no level. There is no plateau. He is boom or bust and if we can get more boom than bust and we get a playoff spot (and a draft pick in the 20’s) then yes, I think he’s re-signed and we go offensive line in the draft.
4. Is Jacksonville's young talent developing as planned? How has Leonard Fournette looked, and is this defense loaded with potential living up to the hype?
Leonard Fournette has been every bit as good as advertised. He looks like a veteran out there, honestly, and he's carrying this team on his shoulders. The young pass rushers are doing very, very well. Cam Robinson looks like a mainstay at left tackle for the next decade. And we haven't seen much of Dede Westbrook since he was injured in the preseason and isn't cleared to come back until the middle of the season.
5. What are the Jaguars' primary strengths and weaknesses on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?
Their strength on the offensive side of the ball is at the point of attack. This is a Jaguars offensive line that is on pace to set franchise records in preventing sacks allowed, preventing pressures, protecting a quarterback throwing tons of touchdowns, and more. Their weakness is inconsistency at quarterback.
Their strength on the defensive side of the ball is their pass rush ability. Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Dante Fowler are pressuring quarterbacks into turnovers. Their weakness is at linebacker, specifically covering opposing tight ends. It's been a problem since this franchise began.