By Shawn Lealos
Two weeks ago, there was a strong argument that the Dallas Cowboys were the best team in the NFL. However, after back-to-back losses, the Cowboys are reeling and have to get starting quarterback Tony Romo back onto the field if they don’t want to spiral completely out of control. Luckily, they play one of the worst teams in the NFL this week in the Jacksonville Jaguars in a big London game.
Here is a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into the game.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have not had a decent offensive attack in years. Even with Maurice Jones Drew on the team, they could barely move the ball and without him, things are just as rough. While they rank in the lower middle of the pack at 19th in total offense for yards, they rank dead last in points-per-game at an anemic 15.7. The Dallas Cowboys score 25.6 points-per-game, and even in their last two losses, averaged 19 points-a-game. Jacksonville won’t score many points, so they need their defense to pick up the slack.
Sadly, the Jaguars rank next-to-last in total defense in yards given up, surrendering 263.4 yards-a-game. Only the Houston Texans ranks below them. The difference is that Houston is also an opportunistic defense, with 10 interceptions and 11 fumbles recovered. However, Jacksonville plays worse, with only 10 total turnovers, while their offense turned the ball over 19 times this season. Only the New York Jets ranks below the Jaguars in the turnover differential.
One thing that Jacksonville has going for them is young stars. Denard Robinson has come to life as the replacement for Jones Drew and has 423 rushing yards this season with two touchdowns. While those numbers pale in comparison to other running backs, it is important to understand that he just took over the starting role in Jacksonville three weeks ago and has averaged 109 yards per game in his three starts. The former Michigan Wolverines quarterback is the real deal.
Starting quarterback Blake Bortles is a rookie and he is making rookie mistakes, with 13 interceptions and three fumbles to match up to only eight touchdowns. He has turned the ball over in every game this season and the opportunistic Dallas defense will be all over him in this game. Rookie Allen Robinson is the star at wide receiver, leading the team with 43 receptions and 488 yards while rookie Allen Hurns has 29 receptions for 466 yards and five touchdowns. This is a young team that will get better as time rolls on.
When the 2014 NFL season started, the Dallas Cowboys were said to be playing for Jason Garrett’s job as head coach. The way they have performed makes his job security look good. The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the season with the same thoughts about their head coach Gus Bradley. In his first season with the Jaguars, Bradley finished 4-12 and now he is off to a 1-8 start. His future might rely on Blake Bortles, and so far, he hasn’t looked great. This is a young Jaguars team that wants to play hard, so don’t expect them to roll over for the Dallas Cowboys this weekend in London.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.