The Jaguars have a chance to get to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. All they have to do is beat Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Here's four ways the defense can do their part on Sunday.
1. Get interior pressure.
The Jaguars are one of the best team's in the NFL at creating pressure. They get tons of pressure off the edge with Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler. Pressuring Brady off the edge is good, but getting pressure up the middle is key. That's where Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, and Abry Jones come into play. Those four players need to have their best game of the season. The reason the Jaguars must create interior pressure is that if pressure comes straight at Brady he will have nowhere to go, especially in tandem with the edge pressure that regularly comes from Ngakoue, Fowler, and Campbell (in base downs). If the Jaguars can create interior pressure they'll have a great chance to stifle the Pats offense.
2. Lock Gronk down in the red zone.
Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end of all time. He's an elite blocker at the position and is the most dangerous weapon at the tight end position in NFL history. Rob Gronkowski is going to have an impact on this game. He's going to catch passes that look impossible. But what the Jaguars must do is not allow him to eat in the red zone. The Jaguars must bracket him with two players when the Pats are close to the end zone. That's only way to stop the 6'6'' super star. Any combination of Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, Tashaun Gipson, and Barry Church should do the trick. Even with two players locked on Gronkowski in the red zone the Jaguars will be able to cover the rest of the field, thanks in large part to their ability to get pressure with just four pass rushers.
3. Play disciplined football.
The Jaguars defense will go down as one of the best of all time if they can shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots. One of the keys to doing so is playing disciplined football. What does that mean? The Jaguars need to play with gap integrity, not over pursue, and stay at home. The Patriots are likely to use the screen game to try to nickel and dime the Jaguars down the field. The Jaguars must be ready for it and must avoid giving up big plays in the screen and underneath passing game. If they can do that consistently then the Patriots offense will struggle.
4. Be physical with the Patriots receivers.
The Jaguars defensive backs and linebackers need to play a physical brand of football in coverage. Within five yards of the line of scrimmage Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye must win the physical battle and try to wear down the will of the Patriots receivers. When Hogan, Cooks, or any of the other Patriots receivers catch short underneath routes the Jaguars need to punish them with physical tackles. If the Jaguars can establish early on that they are the more physically dominant team they'll have a great chance at success.
Stay tuned for more.
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