The 2018 season is underway, and two weeks into the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking like the real deal. After holding the Giants to just 15 points in MetLife Stadium, the Jags put on a clinic to take down Tom Brady and the Patriots in a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game. Even without second year running back Fournette, who was out of the lineup due to injury, the Jaguars were able to take down the Pats to the tune of 31-20.
Jacksonville took down the Patriots with sound play on both sides of the ball. Bortles was sharp in this one, throwing for 377 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception. The touchdowns were also scattered to four different recipients, including receivers Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook, as well as tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Meanwhile, the stout defense that the Jags have fielded for the past year continued their dominant play. Brady was held to just 234 and two touchdowns, with a very lackluster 6.7 yards per attempt. The defense also sacked Brady twice, and had a total of four tackles for a loss. It was an overall strong performance by the whole team, and they certainly made a statement for the rest of the AFC that they are going to be difficult to beat.
This was a critical game for Jacksonville. While they would have been fine, even had they lost this game, it was a big game for their confidence and mentality going forward. Knowing that they can handle the best teams that the NFL has to offer can go a long way in helping them get over the hump, and perhaps even make a Super Bowl run come January.
All offseason, the Jaguars were aware of the criticism toward them, particularly in the last season’s biggest games. The main issues surrounded their tendency to be too conservative and predictable. The team took notice of the issue that caused them to lose the aforementioned AFC title game. That was not the case in Week 2, when Bortles dialed up a whopping 45 pass attempts. The running game was far less depended upon. It could have been a blessing in disguise that Fournette was not in the game, forcing the Jaguars to throw early and often. It was clear that the team had this game plan in place all week long, and they executed it to perfection. New England couldn’t handle it, and Bortles showed signs of a revamped signal caller.
If the Jaguars continue to play this well, we could see them representing the AFC in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Super Bowl will take place early next year.