Week 12 Tale Of The Tape: Jacksonville Jaguars At Arizona Cardinals
- QuarterbackBlake Bortles is a better quarterback in 2017 than he has been in the past, but his performance is far from a given to perform at a high level. While Bortles has excellent arm strength and decent athleticism, he can be goaded into poor throws by the defense and he tends to lock onto the receiver. It doesn’t seem likely that he will come through in the late stages on the road in a close game.Blaine Gabbert is coming off a strong start against the Houston Texans, and head coach Bruce Arians is giving him another start. Gabbert completed 22-of-34 passes for 257 yards with three TDs and two interceptions. If Gabbert is going to hold onto the position in the future, he needs another strong performance here or Drew Stanton will get a chance to lead the Cardinals.
- OffenseThe Jaguars want to take over the game with their running attack and their defense. Rookie Leonard Fournette is big, tough and fast, and he has a chance to break long runs. Fournette has rushed for 740 yards and six TDs, and he has also caught 19 passes. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns are both solid receivers who have combined for 79 receptions.The Cardinals were hurt badly when running back David Johnson was hurt in the preseason, and while they have tried Chris Johnson and brought in Adrian Peterson, the running attack has not clicked. Veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald may not have impressive speed, but he runs precise patterns and has dependable hands. Secondary receiver Jaron Brown is a fine big-play threat.
- DefenseThe primary reason the Jaguars are in first place in the AFC South and have improved so much this season has been the play of the defense. The Jaguars have the No. 1 defense in yards allowed, and the pass rush has been dominant since the start of the year. Calais Campbell leads the team with 11.0 sacks and he’s getting huge support from Yannick Ngakoue, who has 9.0 sacks of his own.The Cardinals have solid defensive personnel, but that unit has played far below expectations and ranks 19th in yards allowed. Defensive end Chandler Jones has excellent speed coming around the corner and has 10.0 sacks, while strong safety Tyvon Branch has a team-leading 69 tackles and six passes defensed. Safety Budda Baker is a playmaker with two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
- Special TeamsThe Jaguars have struggled on special teams, but they have had a few good moments and should be able to gain a slight advantage in this game. Josh Lambo has done a respectable job since replacing Jason Myers, as he has connected on 9-of-10 FG attempts.The Cardinals have held their own on kickoff returns, but they have been outgained by a 2-1 margin on punt returns and that has caused problems for the defense. Phil Dawson used to be one of the best kickers in the league, but he has made just 13-of-19 FG attempts.
The Jaguars are probably the better all-around team, but they are going on the road against a team that is seemingly out of contention. The Jaguars are under pressure, while the Cardinals should be loose.