The Patriots Should Fear The Jaguars

The Patriots Should Fear The Jaguars

Now is not the time for hubris and premature celebration.
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After the Jaguars’ narrow victory over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in last Sunday’s shootout, the shift of focus in Jacksonville has quickly turned to the Patriots. While New England is still the odds-on favorite to repeat as Super Bowl champions, the road to a sixth Super Bowl championship might not be as simple as it looks.

Although Tom Brady and the Patriots embarrassed the Tennessee Titans last Saturday night, the Jaguars are a much different beast. Throughout the course of the season, Jacksonville’s defense has been widely regarded as one of, if not, the best defense in the entire league, as Cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey have proved to make up the most threatening secondary in the NFL. Together, the two deadly defensive backs combined for 10 interceptions, the most among all Cornerback duos in the entire NFL. With the Patriots expected to rely heavily on the passing game, which ranked 2nd in the NFL in 2017, Bouye and Ramsey are sure to give Tom Brady his biggest challenge of the season.

In addition to Jacksonville’s impeccable secondary, the remainder of the Jaguars’ defense will challenge Brady and the rest of the New England offense on Sunday. The Jacksonville pass rush has proved to be the most menacing force in recent memory, as the Jaguars have racked up the most sacks in the NFL with 55 during the regular season and four more that they have managed to tack on during the Postseason. With big bodies like Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus coming off the line, Tom Brady has much more to worry about than the heavy coverage he will face down the field. In 2017, the Patriots offensive line was very average, as Tom Brady was sacked on 35 occasions and hit another 84 times. On Sunday, the Patriots will be facing the single best defense in football and it would not be surprising to see Tom Brady spend plenty of time on the ground.

While the Jacksonville defense is certainly noteworthy, their young and dangerous offense has looked impressive throughout the course of the season. Led by a dual threat of QB Blake Bortles and rookie RB Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars offense has looked occasionally inconsistent, but consistently solid. Although the Jaguars scored 45 points last week, Blake Bortles played an incredibly average game as he completed 14 of 26 passes for 214 yards and only 1 TD. In a game where the Jaguars scored the most points they had all season, Bortles looked like a lackluster run-of-the-mill QB while the running game picked up the slack. Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon combined for 129 yards on the ground, as well as 4 TDs between the two of them, 3 of which came from Fournette, his highest single-game TD total all season. Together, the impressive RB tandem added 67 yards on 5 receptions, with Yeldon accounting for 57 yards on his own.

While the Patriots have focused their efforts into creating a “pass first” offense, the Jaguars have relied heavily on the production they’ve received from the Running back position, as they ranked 1st overall in rushing yards per game with 141.4. Needless to say, two very different teams will meet in Foxborough on Sunday as a team full of young startups will do everything in their power to shock the world and beat a team composed of experienced veterans. The Patriots are sitting as 10-point favorites with a 81% chance to win, but Jacksonville’s stout defense and explosive offense could prove to be the greatest challenge the Patriots have faced all season.

And although Tom Brady has already certified himself as the greatest Quarterback of our time, a loss on Sunday to Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars would cement the 2017-2018 Patriots’ season as the 2nd biggest disappointment in the history of modern sports. The only bigger disappointment came 10 years ago when the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII to Tom Coughlin’s Giants.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade.

I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass, and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school, and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone, it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach:

Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off," and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake, I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself, not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, but you also turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It's about the players.

You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won't have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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ASU Baseball Is Already Knocking It Out Of The Park

All eyes are on the Sun Devils as they enter the national poll this previous week. The Sun Devils are the last unbeaten team left in the NCAA.

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Starting off the season 18-0? Not bad, considering the Sun Devils' haven't gone undefeated at the start of the NCAA baseball season since 2010 when they went 24-0, but honestly where did this come from? In the 2017-18 season, the Devils finished off with 23-32, sitting towards the bottom of the Pac-12. Now they're the top of the conference, past the usual Pac-12 baseball powerhouse, Oregon State.

On a team with only 27 on the roster, which makes it the smallest team in the Pac-12, you wouldn't really expect such an explosive start to the season. Take a look at the improvements made, though, and you'll see why.

For starters, catcher Sam Ferri is back healthy and ready for this season to start with both pitchers Alec Marsh and RJ Dabovich, who've both thrown some great games, but if we're being honest here, have been a little inconsistent with a few errors, but have been backed up by the offense to get the job done.

On offense, Hunter Bishop and Spencer Torkelson are the ones to watch out for. Torkelson was named Pac-12 freshman of the year last year, after setting the Pac-12 freshman record of home runs. Now he's back with some deadly at-bat presence, as you can always expect a few RBIs from him, and also doing a great job at infield (#TorkBomb). Bishop's following suit, with major at-bats against Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Xavier.

Safe to say being ranked #23 right now is huge for a program that struggled majorly in the past seasons and has had some great players transfer out recently. Despite being faced with huge adversity before the season, this lineup is really producing some good stuff this year, and by being undefeated through the first month of play really exemplified that.

Hats off to Head Coach Tracy Smith for helping these young men after having the program suffer for a while.

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