Injuries Could Make or Break Jaguars’ Chances of an Upset in AFC ChampionshipJanuary 19, 2018 | insideinjuries | No Comments
The No. 1 defense in the league is taking on arguably the best offense in the league in the AFC Championship. The Jaguars are going to rely heavily on their defense to keep the Patriots’ offense at bay, but injuries are a concern. The Jaguars’ are also dealing with injuries on offense, which could make it difficult to get points on the board.
Blake Bortles has been on the injury report every week so far this season with a wrist injury. He’s a full participant each week and his game status is never in question, but there is still cause for concern. The injury is to his right (throwing) wrist, which makes the injury even more concerning. The Jaguars haven’t released much detail about the injury, but the fact that it has lingered for 20 weeks means it’s more than just soreness.
Bortles is an Elevated Injury Risk (17%) as he continues to play through his throwing wrist injury, and his Health Performance Factor is Below Average (62%). Even minor injuries to a quarterback’s throwing hand can significantly impact performance, which could be a possible explanation for his lackluster performance at various points throughout the season. His troubles with accuracy and decision-making are also related to the amount of pressure Bortles faces when the Jaguars are trailing. The Jags will likely stick with their running game this weekend against the Patriots.
Leonard Fournette has been the leading workhorse for the Jaguars for most of the season, despite injuries woes. Ankle and foot injuries that date back to his time at LSU have forced Fournette to miss time this season and he’s even admitted that post-season surgery may be an option. He aggravated the injury last weekend and was limited in practice this week. He is expected to be ready to go on Sunday.
Fournette’s ankle injury is a major concern for Jaguars fans. The Jaguars are going to rely heavily on their run-game this weekend against the Patriots and if Fournette’s ankle puts him on the sidelines, their offense will be all but shut down completely. Fournette is a High Injury Risk (34%), which means he really shouldn’t be on the field. Given that it’s the AFC Championship, Fournette will try to play through the injury no matter how bad the pain gets. The Inside Injuries analytics calculated a two week Optimal Recovery Time for the grade 1 aggravation, which means Fournette is still a week away from being healthy. This injury has lingered for a while and his Health Performance is Below Average, so Fournette will be at about 60% on Sunday.
Starting free safety Tashaun Gipson suffered a foot injury in Sunday’s Divisional Round matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He only participated in practice on Friday, but when asked about the injury, coach Doug Marrone said that Gipson was “trending in the right way.”
The Inside Injuries analytics are calculating a grade 2 foot injury and a four week Optimal Recovery Time. If he tries to play on Sunday, Gipson will be a High Injury Risk (38%) and his Health Performance Factor is Below Average (42%). It will be a big blow to the Jaguar’s defense if Gipson can’t get out there, but he’ll be at less than 50% if he does play.
The Jaguars are really hurting at safety this week with Barry Church also dealing with a shoulder injury. He has been limited at practice so far this week, which means the Jags must think there is some chance he plays on Sunday.
Church has a long injury history, but this is his first shoulder injury. The Inside Injuries algorithm is calculating a grade 2 shoulder injury and a two week Optimal Recovery Time. He will still be a week away from his Healthy to Return date if he plays on Sunday, so he won’t be 100%. His long injury history makes him a High Injury Risk (31%).
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson was limited with an ankle injury in practice this week, but he’s expected to be out there on Sunday against the Patriots in the AFC Championship. Not having Jackson on the field would be a huge disadvantage to the Jaguars defense, but not just because he’s a good defensive tackle. Jackson is the only starter on the Jaguars to have won a Super Bowl and he knows how to handle Tom Brady. When Jackson was part of the Denver Broncos‘ defensive squad, he was able to get two tackles and three quarterback hits against Brady in 2015 when the Broncos beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship. But his impact in that game was even bigger than his stat line.
Jackson could be the key to shutting down Brady’s game. He won’t be at 100% performance according to the Inside Injuries algorithm, but he could still be effective against Brady, who is also dealing with an injury of his own.
Linebacker Paul Posluszny suffered a core muscle injury against the Bills in the Wild Card Round, but the full practice participation this week suggests he’s going to be fine for the AFC Championship game. The veteran linebacker will be an Elevated Injury Risk (20%), but his Above Average Health Performance (71%) suggests he’ll be effective against one of the best offenses in the league.
Other Notable Injuries:
Jalen Ramsey CB
While he’s not on the injury report this week, Jalen Ramsey’s ankle has been a concern throughout the season. He was on the injury report last week with an Achilles injury, and was limited at practice before being active against the Steelers. Ramsey is one of the Jaguars’ best defensive weapons, and they need him at 100% if they expect to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense.
Unfortunately, Ramsey’s lingering ankle injuries make him a High Injury Risk (44%). On top of his ankle problems, Ramsey has also dealt with calf, groin, back, and hand injuries this season. He’s not healthy and it could hurt the Jaguars’ chances of upsetting the Patriots.
Tight-end Marcedes Lewis hasn’t been the most consistent target for Blake Bortles but he’s found the red zone five times so far this year. He’s had lingering ankle issues for a few weeks now, but he isn’t listed on this week’s injury report. Lewis is a High Injury Risk (24%) and his Below Average Health Performance (63%) suggests he isn’t going to be a reliable target on Sunday.
Marqise Lee WR
Marqise Lee suffered a sprained ankle in Week 15 and missed the following two games. While he’s reached his four week Optimal Recovery Time and he’s not on the injury report, he’s still a High Injury Risk (24%). On top of his ankle sprain, Lee has also dealt with other lower body injuries this season. His Health Performance Factor is Below Average (54%), which means the Jaguars’ passing game will have to rely on Allen Hurns and Dede Westbrook as healthy targets.
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