Location: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Time: 9:30 AM/ET NFLN
Matchup to watch: Jaguars offensive line vs Eagles defensive line
Many would think that Blake Bortles is the man to watch considering all the turmoil revolving him lately. However, if you watch Jaguar games, you will notice one thing. This offensive line is not good. It is bad. The offense, not just Blake Bortles, is completely nonfunctional and it all starts with the offensive line.
The offensive line is failing to produce a run game for this team that is supposed to be a run-first team. As a result, the Jaguars are forced to pass more than they are supposed to. That is not the identity of this Jacksonville offense.
Marrone has always preached a “ground-n-pound” style of game, but it has been completely missing in 2018. In fact, believe it or not, the Jaguars, ranked 21st in the league in rushing, are the only team without a running back with more than 60 yards rushing in a game. (!!!!!)
The #Jaguars are the only team in the NFL without a 60+ yard single-game rusher this season.
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) October 24, 2018
That is downright embarrassing considering that this offense was supposed to revolve around the run game. Of course, injuries to Leonard Fournette and Corey Grant have not helped the situation. But, it still speaks volumes of how bad this line and offense in general is playing. The game begins and ends with the trenches, and so does this offense. Better play from the offensive line, along with the debut of Carlos Hyde, should l help the quarterback and the other skill players on this team.
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The Eagles, on the other hand have one of the tougher defensive lines in the NFL. However, the Eagles announced on Wednesday that DE Derek Barnett suffered a shoulder injury and will miss the rest of the 2018 season. Barnett had 2.5 sacks and 17 quarterback pressures up to this point. The defensive line comprises of Pro Bowlers Michael Bennett and Fletcher Cox. Rookie Josh Sweat (FSU) also looks to be earning some more play time with the injury of Barnett.
Look for this clash to be a big determinant on who wins in London this Sunday.
Sleeper player to watch: Safety Ronnie Harrison
The talented rookie from Alabama has played a moderate number of snaps with Barry Church playing the majority of the snaps at strong safety. However, this week it is likely his snap count will go way up. This if for a couple reasons.
As most know now, A.J. Bouye will miss Week 8 and did not travel to London with the Jaguars. However, not only will the Jaguars be missing their starting cornerback, but they will also be missing nickel corner D.J. Hayden (again), and also his replacement in the last few weeks in Tyler Patmon.
With all these injuries to the corner position, the Jaguars will be forced to start either Tre Herndon or Quenton Meeks, who were both undrafted free agents and have played less than 10 combined career snaps. This is not good. Expect Harrison to play a lot in the nickelback position and see a lot of reps defending Eagles backup rookie tight end Dallas Goedert. Harrison will have a chance to stand out and perhaps challenge Barry Church for more snaps going forward.