With games against the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers looming in the horizon, the Jacksonville Jaguars head into one of their last “winnable-looking” games against the St. Louis Rams this week. After barely beating the Arizona Cardinals in week 1, the Rams have been manhandled for three straight weeks. With questions about Sam Bradford at quarterback and an underachieving defense, the Jaguars match up as well as they could against another NFL team.
We talked with our Fansided bros over at Ramblin Fan to get some inside intel on the Rams for this matchup. Here’s what co-editor Nathan Kearns had to say about my five questions:
1. How are Rams fans feeling about Sam Bradford? Are you guys still buying in on him being a franchise quarterback?
Much like any team that is struggling, there will be questioning the value of the starting signal caller, especially one that is a quarter of the way through his 4th season in the NFL. However, I think the general consensus, and a majority of the disgust, is being aimed at the offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer. Bradford being tagged as “franchise” might still be a little premature, but until there is an offensive line that can keep him upright and an offensive scheme that can highlight the talent on the offensive, he will likely continue to get a “pass” from most of the fan base.
2. Which rookie has stood out this season and could have a big impact in this game?
The two defensive rookies, Alec Ogletree and T.J. McDonald, have both played some tremendous football this season. Sadly, McDonald was carted off the field with a “fractured leg” last Thursday against the San Francisco 49ers, putting his stellar rookie season on hold until he returns later in the season (he was placed on the IR-Designated to Return list). Ogletree has been one of the few bright spots on the team, showing extreme promise in tackling, in coverage, and, most importantly, in making “big plays.” St. Louis is still waiting for Tavon Austin to make an impact, but hopefully that will change this Sunday…
3. Who is one player on the Jaguars offense the Rams are worried about?
Justin Blackmon coming off of his suspension is obviously the biggest potential threat on the Jaguars offense, especially with Cecil Shorts ailing from injury. Blackmon appeared to be a “late bloomer” at the end of last season, and obviously has the potential to be an elite receiver if he can keep his hands off the drugs and alcohol. Plus, after watching Josh Gordon come off his suspension and lead the Cleveland Browns on a two-game winning streak, that “being rusty” cliché doesn’t hold too much weight.
4. Who is one player on the Jaguars defense the Rams are worried about?
To be honest, there are not too many individual players on the Jacksonville Jaguars that would likely be considered “worrisome.” Will Blackmon is quietly having a Top 10 season at cornerback, and Jason Babin obviously has the potential be a playmaker from the defensive end position. However, the St. Louis Rams are pretty deep when it comes to receiving threats, and Jake Long is certainly no pushover. Guess we will have to wait until Sunday to see if someone on their unit is being underestimated.
5. What’s your prediction for the game?
Over the last three weeks, the St. Louis Rams have lost to three playoff-caliber teams that have, arguably, Top 10 passing offenses and running backs, and at least one “receiver” that would be consider Top 5 at their position. Moreover, all three teams have had Top 15 passing rushing and run stopping defensive units, and have had adequate personnel in the “second-level” to contain play-makers like Jared Cook and Tavon Austin. According to Pro Football Focus, the Jacksonville Jaguars are ranked 31st or 32nd in all but one major offensive category, and ranked in the Bottom 10 in both coverage and run defense. In fact, the only “positively” graded unit is pass blocking… and Jacksonville just moved their rookie right tackle to the blindside to face off against, arguably, the best pass rusher the NFL this season, Robert Quinn. Pile on the fact that Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams will have had 10 days to prepare for the game, and this has the makings of a Rams “signature” victory.
31-10, Rams over Jaguars
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89