The Buffalo Bills travel south to face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Wild Card playoff game this Sunday at 1:05 Eastern. Ryan Day at Big Cat Country provided some insight into Buffalo’s opponent this week.
1) If Blake Bortles’s career were a movie, it would be “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” What has led him to be so inconsistent, and when he’s been good, what’s been the key?
I don’t know if there’s much of a rhyme or reason to it outside of the fact that he’s just not a very good decision-maker. He has all the physical tools, but he’s shown to be an incredibly volatile player throughout his career. There was a three or four-game stretch this season where he was among the NFL’s top-performing quarterbacks, better than the likes of Tom Brady statistically and then he completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes against the San Francisco 49ers and threw three interceptions. He’s not consistent, and I think that’s the word we need to start using around here. Bad is a poor word to describe him because he’s shown he can be very, very good. But he’s certainly inconsistent, and it’s maddening as hell.
2) How has Marcell Dareus impacted an already-outstanding defensive unit?
Well, the short of it is he’s made it better. We were one of the two or three worst run defenses in the league leading up to the trade. We were just getting gashed up the middle. We gave up 256 yards on the ground to the New York Jets. The New York Jets! Now with Dareus in the middle, we’re seeing a lot less of that, and teams are trying to run away from him towards the edge. Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell are admittedly not as good at stuffing the run, but the difference with Dareus is undeniable -- before getting Dareus, we were allowing 138.6 rushing yards per game. That number has gone down to 98.9 rushing yards per game. It’s not all on Dareus, but he’s the biggest piece of it.
3) Is the Jaguars’ secondary great because of their fantastic pass rush, or are the defensive lineman finding more success because the secondary is so good in coverage?
They’re both great, and you can’t have one of those great with the other one poor. But this secondary is unreal. A.J. Bouye is the best cover cornerback in football, and Jalen Ramsey is among the top three in the league. They’re both All-Pro caliber, in my opinion, and while the pass rush is great, that level of quality in a unit is rare.
4) If you were Buffalo’s offensive and defensive coordinators, how would you stop the Jags?
If I’m Buffalo’s offensive coordinator, I’m keeping Tyrod Taylor on the move all game and throwing out every downfield pass in the playbook that takes longer than 2.5 seconds from snap to throw. I’m sprinkling in some screens, too. As far as a defensive coordinator, I’m stacking the box. I’m daring Blake Bortles to win this game and keeping Leonard Fournette under 3.0 yards per carry.
5) Who wins and why?
Even with Blake Bortles being an unknown on any given Sunday, I still think the Jaguars possess the better roster overall. I think they’re better coached, and they’re at home. I think this is a one-touchdown win, but it’s still a win. So, Jaguars advance, but put money on the Bills and the 8.5 points that Vegas is giving them.
Thank you, Ryan, for taking the time to answer our questions!
If you’d like to read our responses to Ryan’s questions about the Bills, click here.