This Thursday night, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Miami Dolphins in the nationwide broadcast on NFL Network. The national audience will capture a glimpse of the new Jay Gruden led offense. Most of all, they get to see Gardner Minshew work his magic.
Jacksonville has defeated Miami in the last two meetings in 2015 and 2018. Blake Bortles was the winning quarterback for the Jaguars in those two matchups. Remember, in 2018, Bortles replaced Cody Kessler to engineer the win on the road.
The current version of the Jaguars will be vastly different than those in prior battles. Miami will have to game plan for more Jaguars offensive weapons. In the past, they would stuff the run and pressure Bortles.
On Thursday, expect the Jaguars to unleash their potent offense with short passes and James Robinson bursting upfield in the running game. Most of all, how will Miami cover Laviska Shenault, Jr?
Shenault appears to be the most versatile/dangerous player in the Jaguar’s arsenal. He runs the ball and catches passes. His presence on the field opens the playbook even more for Gruden.
Defensively, the Jaguars defense has to put pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Miami signal-caller. He has completed 51 of 77 passes for 519 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Most of his passing attempts were under 15 yards from the line of scrimmage, according to nextgenstats passing charts.
Tight end Mike Gesicki is Fitzpatrick’s top target. Gesicki has caught 11 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown. Jacksonville will need to lock Gesicki down to stifle the Miami offense.
The Dolphins has a two-headed rushing attack with Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida. Together, they have carried the ball 28 times for 145 yards. Jordan Howard has the only two Miami rushing touchdowns. The Jaguars run defense will be able to handle the Dolphins running game.
To win this game. Jacksonville has to dictate the game. First, the Jaguars have to play a complete game – no slow starts and fast finishes. They have to, really have to, start fast and finish fast.
Next, the Jaguars need to hit some vertical pass downfield to open the running lanes for Robinson. Keelan Cole is a deep target along with Shenault. Hopefully, D.J. Chark will be healthy on Thursday.
The Jaguars will win this game to move to 2-1 on the season. Expect the Jaguars to hold on for another close battle but victorious. Final score: Jaguars 31 Dolphins 28.
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Follow: Larry Brake on Twitter @Jag_Sooner_fan