The Jacksonville Jaguars walk into MetLife Stadium this afternoon with a chance to win their second consecutive opener on the road when they play the New York Giants.
All that is left if playing the game. The Jacksonville Jaguars have collectively preached this offseason about making adjustments to get better each day, each game. Now, with the first regular season game of the season just hours away, this is the time to prove those changes were for the better.
The Jaguars made changes in personnel on both offense and defense, added a new punter in special teams and got faster at the wide receiver position. Some would say addition by subtraction should make them a better football team. Others say unless there is a change at quarterback there will not be a Lombardi Trophy hoisted in North Florida any time soon.
This is a team good enough to get to Atlanta in February. This is also a team good enough to win their first NFL championship. The first test is in New Jersey against a New York Giants team that was 3-13 last season with plenty to prove this year.
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If the Jaguars are to win their second consecutive road opener, these are three players to watch during the game.
It’s odd to start this kind of review with a left guard, but the Jaguars brought out the Brinks truck to sign the best at his position to help the running game.
Everything we have seen in practice with Andrew Norwell has been “solid” and unspectacular. Maybe that is the best thing the Jaguars coaching staff could want. If no one is talking about Norwell’s deficiencies (there are very few), then he is doing what is asked of him.
Norwell makes the Jaguars offensive line a potential top 10 unit and the running game much better.
All the former Indianapolis Colts player must do is show he is worth the cash and make big plays. The veteran is the oldest pass catcher on this roster, which means there is hope for a leadership role as well.
Moncrief showed the ability in the third preseason game of the year once Lee was taken off the field and lost for the season.
The Jaguars are hoping he becomes a reliable asset in the passing game and a deep-ball threat to keep secondaries honest.
Blake Bortles didn’t do much in the 29-7 win over the Houston Texans last season as the defense dominated their opponent from the opening whistle.
A little more will be asked of the fifth-year signal caller in this game.
Look for Bortles to use more read-option and to throw short and intermediate passes, spreading the ball all over the field. He has more speed on the outside with Moncrief in the mix. Keelan Cole gets the start, which could make for an exciting afternoon.
Both Cole and Moncrief could spread the field, which should make Bortles a lot more comfortable in passing situations.