Jaguars, Jets seeking consistency after impressive wins
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars went overseas last weekend and impressed in front of a London crowd.
They’re back on the road this Sunday, this time without a trans-Atlantic flight, but trying to maintain the momentum they se t with a 44-7 rout of the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium.
”I think it’s huge,” Bortles said of potentially putting back-to-back wins together. ”We have to figure out how to win and win consistently and win in bunches.”
The Jaguars (2-1) will take on the New York Jets (1-2), who pulled off a stunner of their own last week with a 20-6 dominant victory over the Miami Dolphins.
So, Jacksonville knows this won’t be an easy task at MetLife Stadium. The Jaguars opened with a terrific 29-7 win at Houston, but followed that with a 37-16 drubbing against Tennessee.
”I think we had a big game in Week 1 and had a letdown Week 2,” Bortles said. ”And then we bounced back and were able to get back on track Week 3 and we have to be able to show we can continue that and make it consistent and do it week in and week out.”
For a team that many wondered if it would win even one game because of its offseason roster overhaul, the Jets are also looking to get off to a surprising start in front of a home crowd.
”I was in a situation last year in Cleveland where that dragged out for some time,” said quarterback Josh McCown, who was on the Browns’ 1-15 team.
”So it’s a good feeling to get that first one out of the way, and hopefully it’s something that you can grab some momentum with and go get more.”
Here are some things to know as the Jaguars and Jets square off for the 13th time, with the series tied 6-6 – including a playoff victory by New York in 1999:
ROAD FAVORITES: The Jaguars ended a nearly six-year streak of being road underdogs.
Jacksonville opened as 4+-point favorites , the first time it hasn’t been a road dog since Nov. 13, 2011, at winless Indianapolis. The Jaguars, who won that one 17-3, haven’t won consecutive road games since 2013.
”To be a good team, you have to play to your standard regardless of who you’re facing or the circumstances you’re in,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ”It’s a must-win for us. We’re not going up there thinking no other way. We have to win this game.”
COULD’VE BEEN YOU: Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was a prime candidate for the then-vacant Jets coaching job in 2015 after New York fired Rex Ryan.
Marrone exercised an out clause in his contract in Buffalo and left his job as coach of the Bills. He was considered a favorite for the Jets’ top spot and interviewed with New York – which opted instead to hire Todd Bowles.
Marrone then went to Jacksonville as its assistant head coach and offensive line coach, and replaced the fired Gus Bradley last year before having the interim tag removed from his title during the offseason. Marrone insists this is not a revenge game for him.
”I just look at it as when you don’t get a job, it’s just you’re not the person that they’re looking for, which actually works out better,” said Marrone, who was Jets’ offensive line coach from 2002-05.
”You don’t want to go there and say things or do things that you’re just going to say to get it. You have to say, `Hey listen, this is what I believe and this is what I do.’ If that’s what they want and that’s where they want to hire, then that’s great, but I’ve had conversations with everyone. I’ve had conversations with Woody (Johnson), I’ve seen him. I have no feelings at all.”
STRUGGLING BIG MEN: Jets defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams are both dealing with slow starts and injuries that might affect them all season.
Wilkerson has a Grade 1 sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder, while Williams has a bone bruise in his left wrist. Neither has a sack this season through three games.
TONE-SETTER: Rookie running back Leonard Fournette has carried the ball on Jacksonville’s first play in all three games and welcomes the role as the team’s tone-setter. He’d rather lower a shoulder than run out of bounds, too.
”Sometimes it lets somebody know that it’s going to be a long day ahead of them,” he said. ”It sends a message not just to the defense, but to your O-line and offense, too.”
GROUNDED JET?: New York leading rusher Matt Forte has turf toe in his left toe and could miss the game , meaning Bilal Powell and rookie Elijah McGuire could be in for a lot of action on offense.
Powell has 72 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, but showed last season he can take over games. With Forte hobbled, Powell ran for 411 yards in the Jets’ final four games and caught 21 passes in that span. McGuire, a sixth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette, has 63 yards on 13 carries.
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