The Jaguars’ roster may be the deepest in the league, but they still lack what makes the Titans special.
Evidence suggests even this depleted roster for Tennessee was enough to handle the Texans, but the threat of Jacksonville will prove too unbearable if the unhealthy stars of this team cannot provide efficient production. However, with Lewan already cleared and Mariota back taking the majority off first-team snaps, the Titans seem to have back what has given them the edge in this series over the past few seasons- clutch leaders.
Who are the leaders of the Jacksonville Jaguars? Jalen Ramsey and Blake Bortles? Now, one could make an argument for Leonard Fournette being a leader of the team, but I’d argue that a quarterback has natural leadership over the offense due to the mere nature of the position. Blake Bortles has to be the navigator through windy storms if Jacksonville wants to achieve success. That’s their problem. Take the fluff stats and whatever metrics you want, all of that flies out the window once the speed of the game picks up. Once crucial moments in football games begin to arise, clammy Bortles has a tendency to crawl right back up into his shell and hide, especially when he plays the Titans. While he and Ramsey have shown skills at times, the personality of the two, and to an extension the entire Jaguar’s team, will forever hinder the team’s ability to compete against us. Ramsey’s flamboyant personality in particular has been well documented over recent years in the national media, often being noted for his intensive trash talking to opponents. Ramsey embodies their entire defense’s strategy of getting in your face and pushing you around- one could call it bully ball. The problem the Jags have faced against Tennessee for two years now has been they simply cannot bully us. As a matter of fact, the Titans have done a great job of giving the Jaguars a piece of their own medicine by really trying to wear down the opponents in the long run. One must also realize the ability to wear down Jacksonville like we do takes clutch play down the stretch from the team leaders. Leaders such as Lewan and Mariota establish the personality and playing style of this team, whom both take pride in doing their biggest trash talking on the field.
Marcus Mariota makes a lot of mistakes, without a doubt. Early in his career, he struggled with keeping a firm hand on the ball while running. More recently he has turned to throwing egregiously bad interceptions once or twice a game. Do you know why he has still managed to accomplish relative success with a franchise that was in an embarrassing state when he took over? He makes the clutch plays down the stretch and wins games. He glorified this last year when he put the highlight reel on Jacksonville to push our team into the playoffs, an accolade the Titans hadn’t accomplished in several years. If he can provide effective production down the stretch, and if Lewan can give the ferocious effort he always provides I like our chances to compete heavily with this Jacksonville Jaguars squad. Victory never proves an assurance, but a dog fight definitely is.
Jaguars 17, Titans 14.
Photo Credit Cincinnati.com