New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars bring back much of the same team that fell to the New England Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship Game. But there are also a handful of key additions to know about before the AFCCG rematch in Jacksonville on Sunday.

Most of the new guys to watch are on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Leonard Fournette are back, as is T.J. Yeldon. But the receiver group is almost all new, with Allen Robinson gone to Chicago and Marqise Lee out for the season with a torn ACL. And the biggest addition actually came on the offensive line.

Here’s a look at five new faces on the Jaguars, with some observations from the Jaguars-Giants game film in Week 1.

WR Donte Moncrief

The former Colts wideout has an opportunity to become a new weapon for Bortles due to turnover at the receiver spot. But based on his game against the Giants, he could be the No. 3 option at best right now. He struggled to get open against Giants cornerbacks Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins, catching only one of his five targets. Bortles was 0-for-3 targeting Moncrief against Apple, and Jenkins picked off his only target on a questionable decision by Bortles to throw into tight coverage. Moncrief’s only catch came when his man blitzed and he exploited a soft zone down the middle against a deep safety. So the Jags may need to get creative in order for Moncrief to make plays, especially if he’s getting a heavy dose of Stephon Gilmore.

LG Andrew Norwell

The Jaguars made Norwell the second-highest paid guard in the NFL in the offseason, and you can see where the money went in his Week 1 performance. Norwell is mobile and versatile as a run-blocker, and is an effective pass-blocker as well. Giants linebacker Kareem Martin did give him a little trouble. Norwell allowed one pressure against Martin and also missed him on a stunt. So it’ll be interesting to see if the Patriots try to beat Norwell with someone like Ja’Whaun Bentley, but the left guard is mostly going to be a tough matchup for the right side of the Patriots’ defensive line.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

The former Jet and Buccaneer played the most snaps (87 percent) of all Jags tight ends and factored into both the run game and through the air. He’s always been a red zone threat and should see at least one target in that area if the Jags get there. He could also line up in the backfield like a fullback. Both times the Jaguars did that against the Giants, Seferian-Jenkins was targeted for a pass. It’s likely that the Patriots defense picks up on this. But besides being Bortles’ security blanket, Seferian-Jenkins will also be used a lot as a blocker, especially when they employ a heavy offensive line with three TEs.

DT Taven Bryan

Bryan played only 13 defensive snaps against the Giants, but he made an impact on a few of them. He drew a double-team on his first snap, manhandled Giants tight end Evan Engram to blow up a running play, and hurried Eli Manning on an incompletion to Engram. Bryan may not see the field much against the Patriots, but that could be mainly due to the presence of the Jags’ deep, talented starters on the defensive line. The 29th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Bryan should at least have an opportunity to gradually earn a bigger role on the defense. And he also showed that he can impact the game even with limited playing time.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.