5 Storylines to Watch: Jaguars vs. Falcons

Both the Jaguars and Falcons have a chance to show they are a team fighting for relevancy in the NFL for next season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are back in the win column after a comeback victory against the Oakland Raiders. The win showed the team did not give up on head coach Doug Marrone or themselves.

The win also halted a five-game winning streak, which was one of the ugliest stretches for football for this organization in its 25-year history in the NFL. Now, with the team focused on the final two games of the year, can Jacksonville string some wins together to finish 2019 with some momentum on their side?

The Jaguars travel to Atlanta to play another team facing a disappointing season. With both franchises at 5-9, the only things these rosters are playing for are pride and returning to their collective teams next season.

Here are five things to watch as the Jaguars take on the Falcons.

Extended Gardner Minshew Tape

Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew is now 5-5 as the teams starting quarterback and will continue to have the opportunity to prove if he is worthy of the starting job going forward.  Atlanta will be an easier matchup for Minshew, with the Falcons giving up 253.7 passing yards per game.

Wide receiver DJ Chark is listed as questionable, but having him back would be a huge boost for the Jaguars’ offense.

Stopping Matty Ice

On the other side of the field, Falcons veteran quarterback Matt Ryan is a gunslinger that will test the Jags secondary.

Wide receiver Julio Jones will give much trouble to both cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Tre Herndon. Jones is fifth in receiving yards with 1,510.

Run defense rises

Jacksonville’s run defense has significantly fallen since the loss of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Jacksonville gives up 140.1 rushing yards per game, fourth-worst in the league.

Stopping running back Devonta Freeman will be vital for the Jaguars front seven. If not, Atlanta will set up the play-action and deep balls against a very breakable defense.

Who’s Next?

Executive vice president of player operations, Tom Coughlin, was fired earlier in the week by owner Shad Khan following an embarrassing NFLPA statement about the team.

Coughlin’s firing is more than likely the first of many in Jacksonville, with general manager Dave Caldwell and Marrone up next. But another who could go before the end of the season is defensive coordinator Todd Wash, who is struggling to galvanize a defense and gameplan in-game.

Another blowout loss or bad defensive showing could make for another statement from Khan.

Show Up or Draft Capital?

Once again, it’s another disappointing season for the Jaguars and now face a difficult question: play hard or tank for 2020.

Playing hard will show the NFL that Jacksonville is resilient despite many problems within the facilities, but tanking will provide the team with better picks in the upcoming draft.

By the looks and feel of the locker room after the team’s comeback win over Oakland, the team won’t be giving up anytime soon.

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