By Julie Dixon//@ABroncoNole
The New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick, don’t lose in the postseason in Foxborough. This record has a chance to be broken when Belichick meets up against his old nemesis, Tom Coughlin.
Teams, coaches, and players try to outsmart Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. This won’t be one of those games. Doug Marrone and Coughlin believe in beating you with talent, playing simple, but effective smash mouth football.
The game will hinge, not on quarterback Blake Bortles, but on Jacksonville’s front five: defensive end Calais Campbell, outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackles Malik Jackson, and Marcell Dareus and OLB Dante Fowler. Brady will run if he has to, he will rush a yard or two on a QB sneak, but mostly he stays in the pocket and it’s up to those men listed above to push the pocket, snap after snap. Then hit him. And again. #Sacksonville doesn’t even need to sack him, just abuse him.
What’s also similar are the QBs we will be seeing. While Brady still has some zip on his passes, they aren’t what they once were. It’s his mind he beats you with.
Bortles will need to do just enough. No heroics, no turnovers, trust the run game and let the defense do their thing. So far this season, Bortles is magic in the red zone. He’s thrown 20 TDs and no interceptions, two have been on 4th downs. That’s when you play the odds.
New England likes to put their fastest running back on the defense’s slowest guy and hit him on short routes. Throw in some intermediate passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski, three deep ones to a wide receiver and you have their game. It’s Brady finding the open guy that catches teams.
The Jags defense is fast. I should say, they’re quick. There is a difference and one that will matter. Brady is now throwing more floaters, against a team with players who can react quickly and get to the ball quickly, they will pick a couple off. Yes, that’s a prediction. Brady will disguise where he’s going with the ball and no doubt catch Jacksonville with their pants down a few times; however, when you’re quick, you can adjust and intercept.
With the defensive line of the Jags pressuring Brady every snap, he will get out of his rhythm and that affects timing. Bad things happen when a QB can’t set his feet. So, the key for Jacksonville is pressure Brady from the first snap to the last snap and trust that cornerback AJ Bouye, inside linebacker Telvin Smith, defensive back Barry Church and free safety Jalen Ramsey can do mop up. Jacksonville is number one at stopping the run; however, they’re still not great at it, even after adding Dareus.
New England will want to play a cat and mouse game of sucking the Jaguars up to stop the run and then toss behind the linebackers. Find the hole in the zone. The story this morning is unless it’s cold, Brady will throw without a glove on his injured hand, this would make one think, a heavy run game.
I could see Brady come out throwing deep, get those throws out there when he’s fresh and the temp is warmer. Force them back from the jump. Then go run game. Then in the 4th, deep again.
He now has the perfect excuse if they lose and turn him into a Greek god if they win. Jacksonville hopefully has blocked all that out and is ready to play from the first whistle to the buzzer. The Pittsburgh game should show them that even when you’re up 21 points, never ease up.
GO JAGUARS, GO AMERICA’S TEAM, BEAT NEW ENGLAND WE NEED A HERO!
Talk Jaguars with Julie on Twitter @ABroncoNole