Bill Belichick, Patriots Preparing For ‘Young, Hungry’ Jaguars In Week 3


FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have won their first two games this season and appear on a mission to pulverize any team unlucky enough to cross their path.

This Sunday, that team is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have not posted a winning record since 2007 and have averaged just three wins per season over the last three years.

Should be a cakewalk, right? Maybe not.

The Jaguars have looked like a team on the rise this season, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick dedicated nearly 10 minutes of his Wednesday news conference to pumping the tires of Jacksonville’s young, talented roster.

?I think (general manager) Dave Caldwell, (head coach) Gus Bradley and their respective staffs have done a real good job of putting this team together,” Belichick said. “It?s a very talented team. They?re young, they?re hungry and they play very well.”

The centerpiece of that roster is quarterback Blake Bortles, who was drafted third overall in 2014 and last weekend scored the signature win of his young career — a 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Bortles threw two touchdown passes, was not intercepted and posted a career-high 102.2 passer rating in the win, the Jaguars’ first over their fellow Floridians since 2006.

“Their game last week against Miami, I think, was a carryover from a lot of what we saw in preseason — how efficient they were, the growth and maturity of their young players,” Belichick said. “When you go down there and play Miami and don?t turn the ball over, don?t get sacked, play as cleanly as they played and had the situational plays that they had at the end of the half, the situational plays that they had at the end of the game, to win that game, it just was a lot of really good football.”

Bortles, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound signal-caller, is at the forefront of new kind of youth movement in Jacksonville. The team’s statistical leaders in passing, rushing, receiving and tackles through two weeks all are age 24 or younger.

?You?ve got guys like (wide receiver Allen) Robinson just going up and taking the ball away from people,” Belichick said. “In the front, they just keep coming at you. They?ve got eight, nine guys that they just roll through there, and they get good production out of all of them. They?re hard to tackle. (Running back T.J.) Yeldon?s hard to tackle. Their receivers are hard to tackle. Their quarterback?s hard to tackle. They?re young. They?re athletic. They run well. Young kicker, young specialists — those guys kick the ball a long way. They?ve got big legs. Young, strong guys.

?Big, strong and fast, every position.”

The Patriots handled more formidable opponents in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills in Weeks 1 and 2, but on both occasions allowed their opponent to claw back into the game in the fourth quarter. Another late-game letup, Belichick said, could lead to trouble against the upstart Jags.

?We?re going to have to play and execute well for 60 minutes, which is something we haven?t done yet this year,” the coach said. “That?s going to be really important. Their talent level, their youth, their energy, their toughness — that?s going to be a big challenge for us this week.”

Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images

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