Extra Points

1st half analysis

Analysis from the first half of tonight’s Patriots-Jaguars game, with the Patriots leading 7-3:

As many of the statistics indicate, the first 30 minutes of the game have been even.

The Patriots have 125 yards on offense. The Jaguars have 115. The Patriots have held the ball for 14:45. The Jaguars 15:15. Both teams have punted three times.

A few analysis points:

On their last two offensive series, the Jaguars have gone to a four-wide package, trying to hit at the Patriots’ lack of depth in the defensive backfield. That has forced receiver Troy Brown onto the field as a defensive back, as well as third corner Hank Poteat, and has made quarterback Byron Leftwich (11-of-15, 101 yards) a focal point. Leftwich hasn’t looked rusty in his first action since late November.

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It’s been an interesting change for Jacksonville, which entered the game as one of only 11 teams in the NFL to rush more than they pass. Tonight, the Jaguars have 15 passes against eight rushes. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina, when the Panthers entered as a team committed to the run, but ended up airing things out.

As for the Patriots’ offense, the passing game has yet to find its rhythm, which is a bit surprising considering the pass offense finished the season ranked second in the NFL with 257.7 yards per game. Tonight, Tom Brady has 74 yards passing. It’s been a combination of everything –- a few drops, a few breakdowns up front, and a throw or two that’s been slightly off the mark. Tom Brady is 7-of-17.

Looking ahead, there is no telling how the final 30 minutes will evolve. Credit the Jaguars for altering their offensive approach. Now we see how the Patriots counter it, and if the Patriots can get their offense in sync.

The Jaguars get the ball to start the second half.

–Mike

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