JACKSONVILLE- The Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-6. Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles is still learning how to transition to the NFL. If the game against the Tennessee Titans was any indication, Bortles is on his way to making the Jaguars offense a feared unit.
The Jaguars have depended the use of the running game for a very long time via the legs of their former running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars have committed themselves to being a pass heavy team, the same tactic most teams in the NFL use.
Bortles torched the Titans last Sunday. It is easy to look at the score and say Bortles was ineffective. The Jaguars lost 16-14. It sounds like Bortles didn’t do enough.
It is important to look beyond the immediate result of the 16-14 loss and look at the numbers. Bortles is looking at potentially blossoming early. His performance through the air with 336 passing yards and one touchdown are indicative of a quarterback that could be rising.
Bortles will need to be equally impressive against the consistent mix it up offense of the 3-2 Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Brian Hoyer is in sync with his receivers particularly Andrew Hawkins who has 24 catches for 270 yards. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense shut him down last week but Hawkins has been consistent with getting receptions. He may not be getting many long gains but he is one the go to receivers on this offense. Travis Benjamin has 9 catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner against the Titans two weeks ago. Miles Austin has 198 yards and two touchdowns.
Jaguars rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson has been a big target for Bortles as he has 30 catches for 311 yards. Marqise Lee, the rookie out of USC, has played in only three games and has 10 catches for 99 yards. Cecil Shorts has been battling a hamstring injury but he should be able to play against Cleveland.
The Browns have what looks to be the deepest group of running backs in the league. Rookies Terrance West (235 yards and two touchdowns) and Isaiah “the crow” Crowell (237 yards and 4 touchdowns) are already making major contributions to the success of the team. Starting running back Ben Tate battled an injury early on which gave West and Crowell the opportunity to be a major part of the rebuilt Browns offense. Tate has been very successful as well 243 yards and two touchdowns.
Tight end Jordan Cameron had a breakout game against the Steelers 102 receiving yards and one touchdown.
The best thing about the Browns this year is their overall depth on offense. You won’t find a few main weapons on this team, they are an arsenal of offense. Even when defenses shut down one or two players, they still have to account for everyone else. That is why the Browns are winning. Hoyer can be comfortable throwing to any receiver, tight end, or running back without worrying about short yardage or an interception. They are making things easy which is something most quarterbacks in Cleveland since 1999 have not been able to say .
John Greco replaces Alex Mack
The Browns will win a close one 31-24. The Jaguars will look to score more while maintaining a strong passing game like they did against the Titans. The Browns will continue to be electric on offense. Hoyer will continue to make good decisions.