Jaguars need to get back on track against the Jets in Week 4

Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets

After a dismal Week 3 loss, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a good opportunity to rebound in Week 4.

After a big Week 2 win over the New England Patriots, the Jacksonville Jaguars needed to avoid a letdown in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans. But a letdown indeed came, with a 9-6 loss at home for a third straight loss to Tennessee dating back to last year.

The barometer for Jacksonville’s last two weeks, as could be expected, was quarterback Blake Bortles. After throwing for 376 yards (8.4 yards per attempt) and four touchdowns against the Patriots, Bortles threw for just 155 yards (4.6 yards per attempt) against Tennessee last week.

A scheduling fluke gives the Jaguars a third straight home game this week, and a nice rebound opportunity against the New York Jets. The Jets blew out the Detroit Lions in Week 1, but they’ve lost two straight one-score games to the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns as Sam Darnold has a 1:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in those games.

After sitting out against New England, Leonard Fournette (hamstring) seemed to trending toward a return last week but was ultimately inactive. The Jets are in the top-12 in the league of the league against the run and the pass through three games, but Jacksonville needs to find some semblance of a running game after last week’s showing and Fournette’s availability would obviously help.

Darnold made three starts in 11 days to start his career, which is clearly not ideal. So a similar gap just between Week 3 and Week 4 should help him going forward. Turnovers were an issue during his last year at USC, and the last two games have brought that problem back.

According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Darnold has thrown more passes outside the pocket (24) than any quarterback in the league thus far. That’s been an effort by offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to use Darnold’s mobility, but he is just 26th in the league in passer rating (52.8) outside the pocket through Week 3. For the Jaguars, using their advantage against a bad offensive line and flushing the rookie signal caller out of the pocket might be the biggest key to Sunday’s game.

Four interceptions from Matthew Stafford in Week 1, and five interceptions off Lions’ quarterbacks as a whole, tilted that game in the Jets’ favor. Zero interceptions in the last two games, especially given how close both games were, says a lot about those results for the Jets.

The Jaguars should have little trouble beating the Jets at home, as evidenced by a point spread sure to remain at 7.5 or so. But a better version of Bortles than what was on the field in Week 3 has to show up, or the Jets will be able to stay close and keep some belief they can pull an upset.

Next: NFL Week 3 Power Rankings

This looks like an identity game for Jacksonville. Are they the team that handled the Patriots, or the team that somehow can’t beat the divisional rival Titans and got nothing going offensively last week? Maybe it’s somewhere in between, but any failure to get back up and ready to play after the win over New England has to be out of the Jaguars’ system now. Anything less than a decisive win on Sunday will invite questions about just how good they really are.

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