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Breaking Down the Opponent: Keys to Victory Week 15

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Oakland Raiders v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

If you thought the Raiders were skidding after three straight losses, another team is spiraling out of control even harder. The Jacksonville Jaguars enter this game on a five-game losing streak where they have been beaten by 17 or more points each time. The Raiders don’t have a better chance of winning another game for the rest of the season like they do with this one.

Let’s take a look at what the Jaguars do well and what weaknesses the Raiders can exploit:

Inconsistent on offense

Along with having an inconsistent offensive line, the Jaguars also have had inconsistent QB play. Rookie sensation Gardner Minshew came back down to earth and relinquished the starting job to former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. Foles played even worse behind a porous blocking unit and Minshew is now starting again.

The bread and butter of this offense is Leonard Fournette. Fournette is the type of back who will run through a defenders face. He also has some impressive wheels for a player his size and is much like Derrick Henry, whom the Raiders faced last week. Fournette is the most violent runner the Raiders defense will have faced this year, and the Jaguars feed him the ball because they know at some point he will reel off a run like the one above.

Passing the ball efficiently has been an achilles heel for this offense, however. The Jaguars lone bright spot in this department was second year WR DJ Chark, who was in the midst of a breakout season. An injury will hold him out of the contest on Sunday, leaving Minshew without his favorite target. Minshew has a tendency of holding onto the ball longer than your average QB, and in the pursuit of making a play will also give up some sacks. The Raiders need to take advantage of this offensive line and make third downs long.

Now, Minshew mania began early this season because the rookie signal caller has just the confidence to hold onto the ball, slip would-be tacklers, and make off-schedule plays happen like the on above. If the rush doesn’t get home, the Raiders secondary will need to cover longer than usual, something we all know isn’t their strong suit.

Defense is one dimensional

Jacksonville’s defense is great at defending the pass. They have only given up over 300 yards three times this season contrasted with holding opponents to under 200 yards passing five times. They are built to rush the passer and cover.

First, check out Yannick Ngakoue. The Jaguars’ pass rush artist is a threat to affect the passer on all downs. He is essentially the Jacksonville version of Maxx Crosby, and he will bat balls down, force fumbles, sack the QB, and make tackles for a loss. Kolton Miller and whoever starts at right tackle will have their hands full with him all game.

As we have learned this year, pass rush and coverage go hand in hand. The Jaguars defenders play a physical and aggressive form of coverage. Sometimes they’ll play zone, sometimes they’ll play man, but in most cases they will ask their corners to start from a press position and challenge the receivers for the entire route.

As solid as they are against the pass, they are trash against the run. Only the Bengals have allowed more rushing yards this season. A team that trots out pass rushers and coverage linebackers usually has problems defending the run. Their woes on offense prevent them from playing complimentary football and teams have taken advantage of them as a result.

Keys to Victory

Offense

  • Win on first down (four or more yards)
  • Stick to the run
  • Protect the QB

Defense

  • Force third and long
  • Rush the passer
  • Create turnovers