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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
Somewhat surprisingly, without Leonard Fournette, the Jacksonville Jaguars soundly defeated the New England Patriots in Week 2.
When I watched it live, along with all the other games going on, my sense was that Jacksonville was more aggressive…’wanted it more’, and that the Pats were doing that thing they do in September sometimes – sleepwalking through games and leave themselves exposed to an unexpected loss.
I had a whole other impression after the re-watch study. I think if they played again this week, the Patriots would beat the Jags…if they played the game 100 times, the Patriots would win 70-80 of them.
It wasn’t that the Jaguars were lucky this day, no, it’s that they outcoached Bill Belichick…out planned and out schemed. Mix that with the fact that Blake Bortles played a lucky game combined with the smart plan.
What was this clever plan? The Jaguars did something they’ve never done before, actually two things. And if I know NFL coaches, with the success of these two things, they’ll never do them again. Somewhat forced by Fournette being out, somewhat probably planning craziness to surprise Belichick…not a crazy play or two but an entire shift of the offense to something it’s never done before, and then add in Bortles stepped in S#$@ (very lucky) to top it off.
What were these two golden things the Jaguars did? Things I would have been telling them to do for two seasons now…
1) They made Keelan Cole a weapon. The Patriots played Donte Moncrief to be the concern, and they put lesser coverage on Cole and he went off. By the time they adjusted, and they didn’t really, it was too late.
2) They FINALLY used Corey Grant as a passing game RB weapon. Nothing radical, just simple screens, flares, etc. They have NEVER done that before. The Pats never saw it coming and when they tried to cover him, apparently, they didn’t realize Grant had 4.2+ speed and was hard to cover or chase after the fact.
The Patriots played the Jags to do the same tired things we all thought they’d do – feature nothing-runner T.J. Yeldon, try to throw some play action passes off the established run game and hope to keep it close with their defense. Instead, the Jaguars attacked with Corey Grant and Keelan Cole kinda became a star…and Bortles stepped into the biggest pile of S&!# he has in a long time.
Again, if I know the NFL…Corey Grant, who had 7 targets in this game, won’t see 7 targets the rest of the season and they’ll try to feature Dede Westbrook next week, despite Keelan Cole being uncoverable much of the time (even when he is covered). T.J. Yeldon will be getting more work than Grant.
Hey, it was fun while it lasted…
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Yes, Keelan Cole (7-116-1/8) became a star this game. What Jacksonville does with that going forward, for fantasy purposes, I shudder to think of the complaining I’m going to do.
You likely saw Cole’s one-handed ‘Odell Beckham’ catch in this game – it was amazing on so many levels between catch ability and the sense of body positioning away from the defender during and after the catch to stay in bounds. A little later, Cole caught a tightly covered bomb in the end zone racing at full speed. After that, Cole just chewed up the Pats running crossers across the middle and Bortles just dumping it to him on the run.
Keelan Cole is a Pro Bowl level talent. Antonio Brown reincarnated. What the Jags/Bortles can do with that isn’t as exciting as what 20+ other teams would, but it’s gotta be solid WR2 activity with WR1 weeks and some WR3 events.
What I like about this game is, I think Cole becomes the trusted throw for Bortles, not just another guy among many. Cole only gets better as a player from here but some upside limited by Bortles/Marrone.
-- Had Corey Grant (4-13-0, 6-56-0/7) been used like this in the playoffs last year, the Jags could’ve beaten the Pats. Grant had 14 targets in 34 career games before this one…and 7 targets here.
It doesn’t matter if teams play for it ahead because Grant runs a 4.2+ 40-time, one of the fastest guys in the NFL. He’s a weapon that should see 10+ touches a game.
I’d be shocked if he does see many targets from here. Grant won’t be seen again until the Jags face the Pats again, figuring it confused them last time…and then the Pats win and go to the Super Bowl because they planned for it this time.
I want to believe In Grant, I have wanted to and crowed about it for three years. I doubt this is leading to ‘a thing’ no matter how much I will it to be so.
From me, in summer 2016: (Link) https://www.fantasypros.com/2016/07/very-deep-sleepers-corey-grant-jaguars/
-- Blake Bortles (29-45 for 377 yards, 4 TDs/1 INT) was not Tom Brady in this game. He was lucky. He was confident and smart, but extremely lucky – and these are somewhat the type of games Ryan Fitzpatrick is having…and scares me when the odds turn.
Consider things that happened in this game for Bortles…
Corey Grant as a dump pass option that confused the defense helped push the numbers on simple throws and set up other options – something Mitchell Trubisky could be doing with Tarik Cohen but isn’t.
Bortles’ had a lucky TD pass…an alley oop to Donte Moncrief that works 5% of the time but Donte made a great timing leap and catch.
Keelan Cole had that one-handed catch on a blind Bortles throw. It was an ill-advised throw that had the illest of results. Soon after, Cole caught a TD with a guy draped on him. Bortles should have never thrown these passes, he did, in the perfect spot and the WR made highlight reel catches. That happens once a game, maybe, not 3-4-5 times like it did here.
Bortles had a 61-yard TD to Dede Westbrook…a 5-yard dump pass with Dede dragging across the middle. He catches it, no one was covering him, he raced to the sideline, broke a tackle and had two great WR blocks downfield and ‘surprise’ Westbrook is still going untouched for a score. It was no great Dede magic, just right place right time. Bortles didn’t do anything but collect a 61-yard score.
I watched Bortles close…I saw same old Bortles. Throwing into danger…looking right by script then firing left blindly into one-on-one coverage hoping for a miracle, and he got them. Dropping back looking deep with guys running deep and with him having no intention of throwing deep, just waiting for a clear out to dump short to the RB.
Flip a coin enough times, eventually you'll get 4-5 ‘heads’ in a row. Bortles had a very nice day he won’t repeat often and that he didn’t drive/create as much as he was ‘a part of’.
-- I hated what I saw from Sony Michel (10-34-0, 1-7-0/2) on the live watch. Didn’t love on the re-watch but wasn’t as aggravated.
All I saw was Michel just getting the handoff and running at the play-call hole and hoping to get through it. I saw no vision. I was no toughness. I saw no adjustment. I just saw a guy getting handoffs and running as fast as he could until he ran into an issue. To be fair, the Jags defense is an issue.
Some of this is the Jags were menacing, but I didn’t like what I saw from Michel at all.
It was his debut, so let’s not get too damning. However, my first glimpse was unimpressed as I was in the preseason. Not as bad as Nick Chubb, the dancer, but different bad – the run straight, fall down on contact act is not long lasting in the NFL.
The Pats don’t have many other options right now, so Michel will be shown patience.
-- The Pats are at least trying with Cordarrelle Patterson (1-5-0, 3-18-0/5)…46% of the snaps played. Bubble screens, one end zone shot…not bad. Just one carry…and when CP moved from WR to RB pre-snap, I’m pretty sure everyone knew he was getting the ball.
The Pats are trying, but not very cleverly.
-- Eric Rowe (2 tackles) is getting blasted for his work in this game. He’ll get ‘bad’ Pro Football Focus grades on this I’m sure. Why? Because Keelan Cole is not seen as Antonio Brown great…so, this is a football embarrassment that Rowe couldn’t cover him. Even though he did…what’s he supposed to do on a one-handed miracle catch or a perfect thrown bomb where he is stride for stride but the receiver just makes a hellacious catch because he’s a great player?
If Antonio Brown does it…we go ‘How could anyone cover Brown?’ Cole does it and everyone is like ‘We need to cut Eric Rowe’.
That’s how football works…terrible scouting, and then graded by novices that work cheap at the grading houses.
-- Josh Gordon signed by the Pats! What else could I say that hasn’t been said…?
This is either their Randy Moss moment (doubtful) or Gordon ends up in rehab off Cape Cod instead of off Lake Erie.
I still think Gordon is wildly overrated. I get he’s an ‘A’ athlete but not sure he’s an ‘A’ receiver, but he’s pretty good. In his right mind, he could have been a star. But I think people are all ‘Gordon is an A++++, if only…!!!’ I think he’s really good, potentially, but not amazing/shocking.
Gordon will need time to learn the playbook, and that might be a problem. He will probably get inserted for special plays, simple ones to create mismatches and let Brady chuck out to him. This could work on a number of levels, it might not.
I’d hold Gordon for fantasy. If he enters next week’s game for just 5-10 plays but one of them is Brady busting off a bomb and Gordon scores…just one catch but for 60+ yards, people will lose their minds. The chance that Gordon is worth a WR1 in trade is possibly 2-3 weeks away if you want out…or stay along for the ride that always ends in disappointment, but maybe this leopard has changed his spots by putting on a new jersey?
Snap Counts of Interest:
59 = Keelan Cole
51 = Westbrook
51 = Moncrief
30 = Chark
41 = Yeldon
30 = Grant
05 = Br Wilds
55 = Hogan, Dorsett
28 = Patterson
34 = James White
14 = Burkhead
13 = Michel
30 = Ja’Whaun Bentley
16 = Elandon Roberts
32 = Ronnie Harrison
16 = Taven Bryan