In the Jaguars 30-9 win in Pittsburgh, the Steelers attempted 55 passes. It’s almost unimaginable that a team prepared for a game against a defense like the Jaguars with that in mind. Will the Rams make the same mistake?
Jacksonville had come off a game against the Jets that saw New York rip off over 250 yards rushing. On the other hand, the Jaguars pass defense was ranked a the top of the league statistically entering the game at Heinz Field last week. Still, the Steelers tested the Jaguars pass defense and lost.
The Jaguars intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times, returning two of them for touchdowns. It was a surprising strategy to some of the Jaguars defensive players.
“I was figuring that since they gave Le’veon 35 carries the week before, they were going to feature him a lot,” strong safety Barry Church said. “As the game wore on, we bottled him up and it played into our hands. We made them pay for it. They tested us a little bit more than any team has. They threw it 55 times, so they were testing us and we were able to step up to the challenge and take advantage of their mishaps.”
Some other Jaguars weren’t as surprised by the approach, considering Roethlisberger’s accomplishments and wide reciever Antonio Brown’s demands for the ball.
“Guys are going to try to come try us. With an elite quarterback like that, it’s hard to take the ball out of his hands,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “I thought they would have thrown that many passes because those receivers they have demand the ball. They did what I thought they would do and we did pretty well against them.”
This week, the quarterback the Jaguars will face doesn’t have the experience or resume that Roethlisberger boasts. Second-year man Jared Goff, however, has been sharp so far this season. His seven touchdowns have helped the Rams to a 3-2 start and a spot atop the NFC West. Like Pittsburgh, the Rams also have a standout running back. Todd Gurley is fifth in the NFL averaging 81 yards per game. He would figure to be the focus of the Rams offensive game plan this week considering the Jaguars defense enters the game ranked atop the league statistics in sacks, interceptions, turnovers forced and opponent’s quarterback rating.
“I always talk about a combination of being able to get a rush, being able to get your hand on a ball, being able to look at the opportunities that you’re having from a standpoint of turnovers,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said. “That’s something that we track-how many opportunities per game that we’re trying to get. So, I think it’s a combination of all those things.”