Jaguars face another QB test agaisnt Chargers' Rivers
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars were pleased with how they were able to slow Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers despite losing in Week 1.
A matchup with nemesis Philip Rivers means the task isn't about to get any easier.
The San Diego Chargers quarterback has enjoyed some of the best success of his distinguished career against the Jaguars and will be looking to continue that run Sunday at home in a game between teams trying to recover from crushing losses in the opening week of the season.
“Rivers, he's another guy who might as well order his yellow (Hall of Fame) jacket,” Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said. “He's a heck of a player, so we're going to have our hands full.”
The 34-year-old Rivers has given plenty of head coaches and defensive coordinators indigestion during his career, but he has been especially productive against Jacksonville.
In six meetings between the teams, Rivers has led the Chargers to a 5-1 record and has thrown 15 touchdowns against just four interceptions. His 116.3 passer rating is the best of any team he has faced at least four times.
Last season, Rivers was 29 of 43 for 300 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 31-25 victory in Jacksonville.
“He has unbelievable accuracy and can make all of the throws,” Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “He can pinpoint the ball when he needs to and he is extremely smart. He has complete command of the offense and is able to get their guys in the right positions.
“We're going to have to find a way to make him uncomfortable in the pocket, get him off his spot, make him move and make things difficult for him because he's an elite quarterback.”
With new additions all across their defense, the Jaguars believe they are better equipped to battle Rivers this time around. They are also feeling confident after holding Rodgers to 199 yards and few big plays last week.
The Jaguars forced a late three-and-out by Rodgers and the Packers' offense and had possession at the Green Bay 14-yard line in the final 30 seconds before their final drive stalled and they lost 27-23.
Jacksonville held Green Bay's offense to 18 first downs and 294 total yards of offense.
“Overall, we executed our plan,” defensive end Dante Fowler said. “It was to constrict Aaron Rodgers, and that's what we did.”
San Diego also missed an opportunity to knock off a playoff team from a year ago.
The Chargers built a 27-3 lead over Kansas City behind two rushing touchdowns from second-year running back Melvin Gordon and strong play from Rivers.
However, the Chiefs rallied with two touchdowns and a field goal in the final 10 minutes of regulation to force overtime. A rushing touchdown by quarterback Alex Smith ended San Diego's upset bid.
Rivers will be without top receiver Keenan Allen, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during the second quarter against the Chiefs.
With Allen done for the season, the Chargers will likely turn to Travis Benjamin, who was acquired in free agency in March. Benjamin had seven catches for 32 yards last week and has 10 career receiving touchdowns.
The Chargers will also likely be without first-round defensive end Joey Bosa for the second straight week.
“There's not going to be another Keenan Allen,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “Everybody is different. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. It's a shame because Keenan worked so hard.”
Blake Bortles, who made his first career start at San Diego during a 33-14 loss in September 2014, appears to be headed for a successful career similar to that of Rivers and will have his full arsenal of weapons.
The third-year Jaguars quarterback shook off an early interception against the Packers to complete 24 of 39 passes for 320 yards and an excellent 22-yard touchdown to tight end Julius Thomas on a fade route down the right sideline.
Bortles has few fond memories from his first trip to San Diego but is hoping to lead the Jaguars to a better showing and avoid another slow start that has become a regular occurrence in Jacksonville in recent seasons.
Rivers will be looking to do the same for the Chargers.
“They're 0-1 like we are and are going to come out here and fight like crazy to get on the board,” Rivers said.