Last week, Gardner Minshew II and the Jaguars rallied together to get out of Cincinnati with another win! A powerful performance by the defense brought the Jags back to DUUUVAL with a 27-17 victory. Now we've hit the halfway point in the season, and Jacksonville is one game behind .500. Look for that to change this week when the New York Jets come to town.
The Jets have continuously struggled this season with their sole win coming from an anomaly performance in Week 6 against the Cowboys. Quarterback Sam Darnold also presented one of the worst performances of his career last week - giving up a staggering five interceptions to a talented Patriots defense.
That news should be exciting for Sacksonville. I would imagine the Jags defense is chomping at the bit to get on the field this Sunday to face an offense that is last in nearly every category. They are 32nd in total offense, 32nd in the pass game and 30th in the run game according to NFL.com. Therefore, you can expect a monsterous game in Jacksonville from this defense come Sunday.
Speaking of the defense, this week's player to know is rookie defensive end Josh Allen. Allen was taken as the seventh overall selection by the Jags in the 2019 NFL Draft. He's a Kentucky product who certainly made a name for himself in college. The young star won the Chuck Bednarik Award that is given to the best defensive player in college football, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy that is given to the best defensive player in NCAA, AND (yes, there's more... ) SEC Defensive Player of the Year during his senior season. He also set the Kentucky single-season sack record with 17.0 sacks during his senior season and left the school with a program record 31.5 career sacks
Through the first half of the NFL season, the rookie has certainly continued to impress. He has 5.0 sacks heading into Week 8, which leads all NFL rookies and is tied for the most by a Jaguars player through the first seven games of a career since former defensive tackle John Henderson in 2002. Jaguars fans … you're going to want to keep a close eye on this player because he's just getting started.
In this week's press conference, Head Coach Doug Marrone sang high praises for the rookie. "I think you're only seeing the surface, really," Marrone said. He continued to say that the one thing that hasn't changed is Allen's desire or effort since joining the organization. "I'm going to continue to grow every day," Josh Allen said. "There's a lot of learning I have to do. I'm just going to grow and continue to get better each day because nobody's perfect. I'm trying to be great."
And great he will continue to be. He has met every expectation placed on him when he was drafted as the Jaguars' 2019 first round pick. The 22-year-old rookie has also formulated a great bond with NFL and Jaguars great, the captain, the Mayor - Calais Campbell. The 12th year veteran is distributing a wealth of knowledge to Allen and the other young defensive linemen on this defense. Allen recognizes this gift too. "Not a lot of players can say in their first year they played with a future hall of famer… and that goes for Yannick (Ngakoue) as well and Marcell (Dareus) and Abry (Jones)," said Allen. Every time they tell me something, I keep it in my notebook for later. And when that situation does come up, I just think about that."
Not only will the rookie continue to step into his own in this league, but he also will continue to learn under the many talents of the Jags defense. DUUUVAL - remember this name. Josh Allen is special. He's a generational talent.
This week's matchup to watch comes down to Myles Jack vs Le'Veon Bell. While the Jets offense has struggled tremendously this season, their one bright spot is Le'Veon Bell. As a defense, if the Jags can stop Le'Veon, they'll force the pressure on Sam Darnold and defeat this Jets offense from the inside out.
The key to stopping Bell is Myles Jack. Jack is the middle linebacker for this Jags defense. He's already faced MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey this season. In that matchup, the linebacker had nine total tackles (three solo), one tackle for loss and two passes defended in a tough 34-27 loss against Carolina. The Jags have ruled out three linebackers this week, so even more of the pressure for this defense rests on the shoulders of Jack.
A couple things to note about Le'Veon Bell, who after sitting out last season, isn't off to the greatest start in the first half of the season. He averages about 17 carries per game but hasn't rushed for over 100 yards once this season. The veteran back has also only found the endzone twice this season.
I trust that the edge here lies with Myles Jack. One of the biggest assets that Jack possesses is his speed. This is a strength of not only Jack, but of the entire Jaguars defense. The Jags defense has also performed incredibly well at home this season, and I don't expect them to skip a beat this Sunday.
Thank goodness for another home game which means you can take delicious goodies and become the star of your tailgate this weekend! Make sure to try these two amazing recipes created by Fresh from Florida.
First up is a great snackable item: Florida Pimento Cheese Plate.
1 Florida red bell pepper
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
5 dashes hot pepper sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Next, steps on how to prepare this dish!
Preheat the broiler to high to roast the bell pepper. Drizzle olive oil over the red bell pepper and place directly under the broiler. Using tongs, rotate the pepper until desired char is reached. Remove from oven and place in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. Once the pepper is soft, scrape the charred skin off (discard) and finely chop.
Add the chopped pepper and shredded cheese to a large bowl. Add the mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, smoked paprika, and hot sauce; mix until thoroughly combined. Adjust salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with Florida vegetables and assorted crackers.
Fresh tip: This dip is very versatile, feel free to experiment with different all-purpose seasonings, flavors, and textures!
Now time for the filling favorite: Florida Guava Barbecue Wings
24 Florida chicken wings (separated into 2 pieces)
1 (14-ounce) brick Florida guava paste
12 ounces Florida guava nectar
3 cups ketchup
1 onion diced
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning (divided)
Fresh herbs for garnish, finely chopped (such as parsley, cilantro, or thyme)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan combine all the above ingredients except for the wings and 1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning. Cook over low-medium heat until the guava paste is dissolved, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spread out wings in one layer, season with remaining 1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning and bake for 45 minutes. Turn oven up to 425 and bake for additional 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and toss with guava barbeque sauce and garnish with chopped fresh herbs. Serve with Florida vegetables on the side.
Not only is this a home game, it's the game before Halloween! So what better costume to dress up as than a Jags player - or perhaps Gardner Minshew II? Grab your jorts and get to TIAA Bank Field.
The weather this weekend shows 40% chance of rain on Sunday afternoon. It will be hot and humid, DUUUVAL. Be prepared for rain or shine!
Also, don't forget your clear stadium-approved bags and your bottle of factory sealed water. Kickoff is at 1pm! Be safe, and cheer loud Jags!