You couldn’t have picked an almost perfect team for the Jaguars to play this week besides the Atlanta Falcons. Coming off their big 51-16 win over their division rival Indianapolis, the Jaguars are favored against an Atlanta team that has struggled, losing 7 of 8 games and six straight.
But it doesn’t mean they’re a pushover for the Jaguars and that’s been the theme all week. Nobody’s a pushover in the NFL and if you don’t bring your best effort or if you think all you have to do is show up to win, you’ll be sorely disappointed. It seems kind of silly to even entertain those thoughts when talking about a Jaguars team that is 5-8 and just a month ago all anybody talked about is if they’d win another game and would Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell last the season.
Fortunes change quickly in the NFL and while the Jaguars are a better team than they’ve been, they have been the closest thing to a pushover in the league for nearly three years. With that in mind, Bradley says the team should understand just who they are.
“I think they’re very confident,” he said this week referring to the win over Indy. “What I like about it is that they have put that one aside and they’re really working on things that we need to work on. It’s been good.”
Atlanta is the best test for a young Jaguars team because they have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. A good quarterback/wide receiver combination has given the Jaguars problems and today is no different. With a lack of pressure on the quarterback, an experienced guy like Matt Ryan has had his pick of targets. Phillip Rivers shredded the Jaguars defense with a mixture of reading defenses, quick throws, and of all things, using his legs. The Chargers snapped their losing streak against the Jaguars and the Falcons are trying to do the same.
“They’re very talented at quarterback, at wide receiver and at running back, and other positions as well,” Bradley explained. “That’s definitely caught our attention, what they’re (the defense) seeing on tape, so I just see a really focused group on the field. And a real determined group.”
They’ll need to be today in order to keep the momentum they’ve built and the confidence in who they are and how they’re playing. In this season of two steps forward, one step back, we’ll see if this young team can take that second step forward today.