September 7, 2018 at 7:53 am #1939
The Jacksonville Jaguars will go down in history as the NFL’s top rushing team in 2017.
They haven’t looked like it lately.
The Jaguars failed run the ball with much consistency during the second half of the season Emmanuel Ogbah Jersey , including a wild-card victory against Buffalo. Jacksonville found few holes against the Bills until quarterback Blake Bortles started scrambling in the second half. Still, the lack of a reliable ground attack is a major concern for the third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) heading into Sunday’s playoff game at No. 2 seed Pittsburgh (13-3).
”It starts with us up front,” rookie left tackle Cam Robinson said.
Coach Doug Marrone agreed, saying ”if they’re not doing their job up front, it’s going to be very difficult.”
”We have to figure it out and get it done in a quick fashion,” Marrone added.
Little, if anything, changed down the stretch while Jacksonville continued to struggle.
The Jaguars averaged 3.58 yards a carry over the final seven weeks of the regular season, ranking 30th in the NFL. They ran for 155 yards in a 10-3 victory against the Bills, but more than half of those came from Bortles. His 88 yards rushing were the most by a Jaguars player in nearly a month.
Rookie Leonard Fournette hasn’t looked the same since spraining his right ankle against the Los Angeles Rams in mid-October. He ran for 181 and 130 yards in consecutive weeks against the Steelers and the Rams, respectively Blake Bortles Jersey , and broke off long touchdown runs in both games.
He’s topped the century mark twice – both barely – since.
Bortles has picked up the slack at times, but he’s not a guy the Jaguars rely on week in and week out to carry the offense.
They are built to run the ball and play stout defense.
”It’s who we are,” Bortles said. ”We want to be able to run the football and do it different ways, so we have to figure it out, whether it’s a during-the-week practice thing or execution thing on Sundays. … It’s a big part of our offense and who we are and who we want to be, so it’s important that we figure it out.”
There doesn’t seem to be an easy fix since the problem appears to stem from several factors:
-Fournette is facing more stacked lines of scrimmage than any running back in the league. Of his 268 carries in 2017, 31 percent of them (82) came against eight- and nine-man boxes, according to ESPN Stats & Info. That’s nine more than second-place
-Fournette is missing holes and assignments. He’s running with authority, but not waiting for holes or looking for cutback lanes.
-Opponents are loading up against the run because they have little respect for Bortles and a banged-up receiving corps that features two rookies. Allen Robinson (knee) was lost for the season on Jacksonville’s third offensive play, and Allen Hurns (ankle) and Marqise Lee (ankle) have been slowed lately. Although newcomers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook have been better than expected, they looked like rookies in recent weeks.
-Jacksonville’s offensive line has been average at best Mike Adams Jersey , and every starter has missed games with injuries. Brandon Linder, one of the league’s highest-paid centers, has been solid. But guards A.J. Cann and Patrick Omameh have struggled at times in a rushing attack that averaged 1.9 yards before contract (also 30th in the league) over the final seven weeks of the regular season.
”Right now, we have to do a better job,” Marrone said. ”Your performance on Sunday, that’s going to be who you are for that week until you change it or you sustain what you’re doing well.”
BOSTON — Toronto coach Mike Babcock thinks his Maple Leafs should cherish the chance to play in Wednesday night’s Game 7 of their first-round series with the Boston Bruins.
“You’re a kid playing outside road hockey, it’s the seventh game and you’re scoring a winning goal in overtime,” Babcock said after his Leafs won their second straight and evened the series with a 3-1 victory in Toronto on Monday night.
“That’s just the way it was your whole life,” he continued. “No one else in hockey is playing right now, they’re all stopped and watching and that’s always some, but I think just the opportunity D.J. Reader Jersey , you get to go on. I think there’s obviously a lot on the line that way and we’d like to play in the next round, Boston wants to play in the next round, something’s got to give. We’re excited for the opportunity and enjoy the rest of today. Get ready tomorrow.
“…Let’s embrace it.”
The Boston Red Sox dedicated the 2013 season to being “Boston Strong.” Tuesday, Toronto joined the long list of cities attacked in some way when a van jumped a curb and mowed people down. The Leafs paid the proper tribute to the victims before the game, and then rode Frederick Andersen to the win.
Does it carry over in Game 7?
The winner faces the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bruins surrendering the top spot in the conference with a shaky finish to the regular season.
Also in 2013, the Maple Leafs, who haven’t won a playoff series since 2004, led the Bruins 4-1 late in Game 7 and wound up losing in overtime. Tuukka Rask gave up four goals on 28 shots and was not brilliant in that game and his record in elimination games is 5-11, 1-2 in Game 7s.
Tim Thomas won three seventh games and led the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup. Rask lost to Philadelphia in 2010 and to Washington in 2012.
He was poor in Game 5 and guaranteed he’d be better in Game 6. He was, keeping his team in the game in the third period.
His teammates were not as good. The top line of Patrice Bergeron Joe Mixon Jersey , Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, on fire with 20 combined points in the two wins that started the series, have been scoreless in the last two games (plus Game 3) — Bergeron was out of Game 5 with an upper-body injury and being ineffective in Monday night’s game.
The trio has no points and is a combined minus-16 in the Bruins’ three series losses.
“It’s always how it should be. When you’ve lived it, you want to share that experience,” Bergeron said of playing in another Game 7 (he scored the tying and winning goals in the 2013 comeback). “We have some amazing young players in this locker room and I know they’re going to step up. That’s the approach that we have.
“Everyone just needs to go out there and play and step up their game up and rely on everybody else to do the same. Do your job, I guess, is kind of the cliche, but that’s how you have to approach (a Game 7).”
Andersen, 10-1-0 lifetime against the Bruins coming into these playoffs, shook off a shaky start in the series and has been great since.
The Bruins are trying to win their first playoff series since 2014.
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