Jacksonville Sports Day

Moeller: Falcons Fly into Jacksonville Sunday for a Jekyll/Hyde Matchup

Photo by Nancy Beecher/SportsDay

The Jaguars host the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Field Sunday in a very winnable game for them. In fact, the Jags or Falcons both have been installed as one-point favorites.

The bigger question is what Jaguars’ team will show up?

The Jags (2-8) played an inspired second half at Indianapolis, and they were within two minutes of a major upset in their 23-17 defeat.

They returned home to host San Francisco, and were done after the first quarter onward to a 30-10 loss.

Atlanta (4-6) will come to town, as a similar Jekyll/Hyd team, having two consecutive blowout losses to Dallas and New England before they had won three of their last four games.

Regardless of the outcome, this will be a measuring stick game for the Jags.The Jags have progressed, but they need to show more. Yes, they are young, but they need to try and develop some consistency over their final seven games.

There are rumblings that head coach Urban Meyer will make changes on his staff for next year. Meyer appears to be back on solid footing, and a few wins down the stretch could solidify his stance.

Their defense is ranked in the bottom quarter of the league — Pro football Focus has them 27th. They are ranked third in pressure rate (37.3%) and have 18 sacks.

The Jags’ secondary continues to be their Achilles Heel, as they are allowing an average opponent quarterback passing rating of 102.9. Linebacker Myles Jack and corner Shaquill Griffin didn’t practice Wednesday, which isn’t a good sign.

Still, the Jags’ defense has given up less than 200 yards passing in each of their last two games, but they have been burned for 127 and 171 yards rushing after keeping opponents under 100 yards on the ground the previous three games.

Go figure. Again, there is the need for consistency.

Trevor Lawrence has made progress, and he basically has stayed on his projected first-year track. Realistically, no one should have expected Lawrence to take the team towards a .500 season with his inexperience and the amount around him.

The Jags’ offense has taken the cue from Lawrence, as they rank seventh overall in the conference — 7th rushing and 14th passing — and 16th overall in the league. James Robinson has begun to find his stride, and he should be active for Sunday despite his recurring heel issues.

Yet, Lawrence hasn’t passed for over 200 yards nor thrown a touchdown in his last three games.

Overall, though, it really isn’t all about the numbers. This Jags’ team is beginning to shape its identity for the future with Lawrence and Robinson on one end of the field, and Jack, Griffin, and Josh Allen on the other end.

A victory over Atlanta would raise expectations on the surface, but it is about staying competitive down the stretch.

Their big picture for the future needs a few more splashes to complete it.

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