5 Storylines to Watch: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
If the Jaguars are going to win on Sunday, these are five storylines to follow during the game.
Nick Foles knows this is a big week for the Jaguars.
As he stood at the podium this week and answered questions from the media, the veteran is getting used to playing in the Jaguars offense. After 10 weeks away from live-action and returning to the team with a 4-5 record, he now faces some questions from the fans and the local media about his play of late.
He is still getting his feet wet.
"“I think the more I’m playing the more I’m getting more comfortable. The game speed is starting to come back, the feel of the game,” Foles said. “Obviously, we’re not executing and doing what we need to do to win these games as a team, but there are positives to build on. And I think we’re beginning to learn who we are as an offense in getting to where we need to be.”"
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The team had better find its way quickly as the sand in the hourglass is good for five more games – which to many isn’t long. For a quarterback coming back from a serious injury, it means he must play better and help his team erase the three-game losing streak it is currently stuck in.
Those three straight losses of 20 points or more have left a bitter taste in the mouths of those within the Jacksonville Jaguars organizations, as well as the fans. The Jaguars will have the opportunity to get back on track at home against the Buccaneers.
And if the Jaguars are to do that, meaning a win at home and gain some momentum with the Los Angeles Chargers coming to town next week, here are five storylines to follow on Sunday.
The Nick Foles bounce-back game – Since quarterback Foles’ returned from injured reserve the Jaguars have not been able to move the ball consistently, but that can change against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.
Tampa Bay gives up 289.9 passing yards per game, second-most in the league.
This week will be a good opportunity for Foles and the Jaguars receivers to drive the ball down the field with ease. Dede Westbrook was a favorite from Foles during the offseason, so look for him to get targets.
Fournette walks the plank – On the other side of the coin for the Bucs defense, the unit only gives up 78.7 rushing yards per game, second-best in the NFL.
It will be a tall task for Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars run offense to create holes upfront.
But Jacksonville should establish the run and not get away from it even when it is not generating much yardage. Fournette is one of the best and toughest rushers in the league, utilize him.
Banged up defense against an electric offense – Bruce Arians’ offense boasts two of the league’s best receivers in the NFL: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Tampa Bay averages 288.1 passing yards per game, fourth in the NFL.
Jacksonville could be without starting safety Ronnie Harrison and cornerback Tre Herndon. Herndon is only giving up a 44.8 completion percentage.
Without those two members in the secondary, and linebacker Myles Jack could make for another long day for the Jags defense.
Tank for anyone? – It’s not wild to say that the Jaguars have given up on the season, losing three straight games to divisional rivals, and those losses combing for 65 points.
At 4-7, last in the AFC South and slim playoff hopes Jacksonville has the opportunity to play for a high pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and hope the Los Angeles Rams also begin to drop more games.
There might not be a franchise-changing player for the Jaguars in 2020, but having two first-round picks in the upcoming draft could change the team’s mind in what they do for the final part of the season.
Time for a change – It’s only a matter of time before Jaguars owner Shad Khan steps in and hands out pink slips, but the biggest question is who and when?
Defensive coordinator Todd Wash could be the first to go, along with head coach Doug Marrone.
Would Khan decide to clean house though, with general manager Dave Caldwell, executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, Marrone and Wash?
The on-field product is worthy of termination for all listed, but it’s all a matter of Khan willing to bring down the hammer and begin the rebuild.