Saturday, November 16, 2013
Five things to watch: Jaguars-Cardinals
By Michael DiRocco
Here are five things to watch in Sunday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Arizona Cardinals game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.
Shorts vs. Peterson: Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson usually shadows the opposing team’s best receiver. In the Jaguars’ case, that’s Cecil Shorts (48 catches, 607 yards). Can the 6-foot, 202-pound Shorts handle the 6-1, 219-pound Peterson? Shorts cannot get completely taken out of the game, because the Jaguars’ other receivers aren’t good enough to carry the passing game. Mike Brown is a solid No. 3 receiver but the only other healthy receiver is Kerry Taylor.
The Honey Badger: Tyrann Mathieu was a ballhawk at LSU, and he’s doing the same with Arizona. He has two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He starts at safety, and he’s also talented enough to cover slot receivers man-to-man. The Jaguars need to be aware of where he is pre-snap, because he’s also a decent blitzer.
Who’s in the middle: Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny is questionable because of a concussion. He’s by far the defense’s best player (88 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles), so not having him on the field would be a huge loss. Outside linebacker Russell Allen would take his place. Though he has played all three spot in his five-year career, Allen hasn’t started a game in the middle since his rookie season (2009). Allen’s replacement would be rookie John Lotulelei, who has played in just two games this season.
Can Mojo get going? The Jaguars have struggled to run the ball all season, and now they’ll be facing the No. 3 run defense in the league. The Cardinals are allowing only 86.9 yards per game on the ground. Jones-Drew has rushed for 432 yards, and is averaging 3.0 yards per carry, more than a yard less than his career average. The offensive line might be without starting left guard Will Rackley (concussion), too.
The end zone: The Jaguars haven’t been in one in EverBank Field this season. The last TD the team scored there came in the first quarter of a Week 16 loss to New England in 2012. The Jaguars have been out-scored 89-11 in three games at EverBank this season.