Jaguars play to identity in season-opening win at Giants
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville’s formula for success was evident in the season opener.
It’s relying on their strengths. It’s playing to their identity. It’s surely not the last time they’ll win like that, either.
Sure, the Jaguars would like to have done more offensively in a 20-15 victory at the New York Giants .
But after losing running back Leonard Fournette to a hamstring injury early, being without leading receiver Marqise Lee (knee) and having the starting offensive line together for first the time in a game, the team will gladly take the performance and hope to build on it heading into the home opener against New England (1-0).
“Everybody has a role in how we’re supposed to win football games,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “Mine is making sure we’re hitting the right run plays, delivering the ball, letting guys make plays, not turning it over and keeping the wheels greased up and spinning.”
The Jaguars finished with 305 yards and 13 points offensively, with all of the points coming in the first half.
They really struggled with Fournette in street clothes, converting one third-down play and managing just 91 yards in the second half. It didn’t help that Jacksonville finished with 11 penalties for 119 yards.
Coach Doug Marrone defending the play-calling Monday, saying the team didn’t get conservative.
“I don’t know if that was the way we felt,” he said. “It might have been the way it looked. ... I think you have to be able to adjust, depending on what goes on in the game.”
Marrone said Fournette’s injury is considered minor, but couldn’t guarantee he would be ready to play against the Patriots in a rematch of last season’s AFC title game.
“If he is ready to go, we will ease him back in there,” Marrone said. “We will see how he feels. I think a lot of it depends on that.”
Bortles completed 18 of 33 passes for 176 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
“The only thing I ask of Blake is one thing: I want to win the game,” Marrone said. “I don’t really ask him to do a lot of other things. We want to make sure we don’t turn the ball over, but we talk about that to everybody. That’s just not him. He happens to get that speech because he’s one of many people who touch the ball. All we’re looking for out of him is to win football games.”
Jacksonville’s defense won this one.
The unit held the Giants to a lone touchdown — rookie Saquon Barkley’s 68-yard TD run in the fourth quarter — and scored the decisive points when Abry Jones tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that linebacker Myles Jack caught and returned for a 32-yard score .
“That’s the way we like to do it,” Jack said. “We feel like we’re so talented on defense that we have defensive backs who can score, linebackers who can score and even defensive linemen who can create strip-sack fumbles and score. We don’t put any pressure on the offense. If the offense scores, that’s even more onus on us. We try to create points.”
The Jaguars scored eight touchdowns on defense in 2017, including one in the postseason. Those were key to developing the team’s personality, which remains intact this season.
“That’s just defense being defense and making plays,” linebacker Telvin Smith said.