Anyone think Tom Coughlin, the head of football operations for the Jacksonville Jaguars, has ideas on how to beat the New England Patriots in a championship game?
But those who cast off the Jags are asking for the same kind of surprise the Steelers are now feeling. Jacksonville poses problems for the Pats that most other teams do not.
As New York Giants fans remember from Coughlin’s colossal Super Bowl upsets of the Pats in the past, the key to beating Bill Belichick include the following: 1) an interior pass rush; 2) physical, fast cornerbacks; 3) a power rushing game; and 4) a quarterback who won’t beat his own team.
The Jags have shown all of the above at times throughout the season. Defensive lineman Calais Campbell is a monster on the inside – one of the best in the league at his position. He will make it difficult for Brady to step up into the pocket consistently and find his receivers. That, in turn, will be made more difficult still if the Jags play man coverage, which is something they have the athletes in the secondary to do.
Speaking of time, the clock is something the Jags are designed to exploit. In a pass-heavy era, head coach Doug Marrone has built a run-first team. That is the identity and the Jaguars are unashamed to admit it. “The plan was to run the ball last year, too,” quipped general manager Dave Caldwell back in July.
Leonard Fournette, when healthy, is a game-breaker and T.J. Yeldon ran with toughness Sunday in Pittsburgh. Bortles has become far more reliable both as a runner and a passer. He may not break the game open, but this season he has been less likely to break the game plan. His own rushing can keep the Pats from stuffing the box constantly.
“When we have more typical boxes,” said offensive lineman Patrick Omameh last week, “those are situations where Leonard, Chris [Ivory], T.J., or whatever running back is