We’ll talk about the Jaguars’ defense in a minute, but first, is the football on fire tonight or something?
Did someone cover it in jello?
We’ve played only 30 minutes and neither team can hold onto the ball. Both Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew have fumbled the ball multiple times, while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco nearly lost a couple of fumbles, too.
Couple that with a 6-0 score and just four first downs between the two teams and tonight’s prime time showdown has been downright pitiful to watch.
For the Ravens, their problems start on offense, where penalties, turnovers and an off night from Flacco have resulted in zero first downs and just .6 yards per play. Dan Kolko has news on that front, but while it’s easy to blame Baltimore for the scoreless night, give some credit to Jacksonville’s defense.
To be honest, the Jaguars have little to play for, save maybe for head coach Jack Del Rio’s job (which, in all honesty, is likely gone anyway) yet thru the first half it’s the Jaguars defense that looks more like the elite unit.
Players are swarming to the ball carrier, poking, nudging and ripping the ball away from Ravens players and keeping Flacco off balance. For an offense that ranks among the top half in the league in most categories, Baltimore’s offense has just eight yards through the air and 15 on the ground, easily the worst first-half statistics of the season.
Pressure is coming up front with cleverly-designed schemes. Jacksonville is not being overly aggressive with its blitz packages, instead taking advantage of one-on-one matchups and delayed rushes to keep Flacco scrambling and making sure he doesn’t have time to square his shoulders.
Jeremy Mincey has stepped up big tonight, registering three tackles and a sack on Flacco, anchoring the front four for the Jaguars’ young defense. Behind him are linebackers Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, each with three tackles and some key tackles for loss.
On the offensive side, things are going as expected. The Ravens defense has kept rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert in check, but he has completed 50 percent of his passes for 48 yards and not allowed any turnovers. Gabbert’s backfield counterpart can’t lay claim to that, however. Jones-Drew, who has had fumbling problems in recent years, has fumbled the ball twice, losing one just one yard from the endzone and keeping Baltimore within striking distance at 6-0.
Between the two teams there have been 13 punts in the first half (yuck) and not a single touchdown. It’d be tough to even scrap together a 60-second highlight reel right now. Fortunately for Jacksonville, they’ve got the ball to start the third quarter and a defense that’s in command right now.
Can they hold on for the upset? Right now nobody seems to be able to hold onto anything, but we’ll see.