Friday, October 18, 2019

The Infrequent I-10 Rivalry

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

There are some match-ups you would like to see more of, but due to the way inter-conference are set-up, these teams play each other at home once every eight years.

This was one of those.

Before a thumb injury sidelined New Orleans QB Drew Brees, I can only imagine how many local fans were looking forward to seeing the the all-time leading passer, who has 74,845 yards.

Sunday's match-up was suppose to feature Brees vs Nick Foles.

The Jaguars prize free agent hurt his shoulder in the first game of the year against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Instead, what we saw was a 4-1 Saints team facing a 2-3 Jaguars squad as Jacksonville started rookie Gardner Minshew II who faced Teddy Bridgewater.

If Jacksonville fans want to see Brees, they'll have to travel 547 miles and 7.50 hours on I-10 East to see these squads in New Orleans if the signal caller is still playing.

Going into this game there were some interesting connections between these two teams.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette is from New Orleans and played his college ball at LSU. This is his first meeting against his hometown team.

His first act against the Saints was a solid one as he led the team in rushing and receiving. Fournette rushed for 72 yards and added 46 in the air.

Even though they've only met six times with New Orleans leading the series 4-2 and having a three game winning streak, from 2006-2008, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone was the Saints Offensive Coordinator.

Marrone coached in the 2007 game on November 4, and the New Orleans Saints defeated Jacksonville 24-21 in Louisiana in front of 70,009 at The Superdome.

During Marrone's tenure with New Orleans, the Saints offense was potent.

New Orleans ranked first in total yards per-game (387.8), first in passing yards per-game (294.1) and third in points per-game with (26.1).

What would give in this Infrequent I-10 Rivalry?

If you were looking for a high scoring affair, you weren't getting it in the first half as the teams went into the locker room tied 3-3.

New Orleans had 125 net yards while Jacksonville amassed 110.

Jacksonville managed to hold up on defense despite the fact that Jalen Ramsey was ruled inactive.

The Jaguars defense limited Saints running back Alvin Kamara to eight yards. Kamara would finish with 66 total yards.

Minshew II went 8-15 for 80 yards.

In the second half, Jacksonville still didn't find it's offense and New Orleans mustered up enough to win the contest 13-6.

It was another win for Bridgewater, who is keeping the Saints in the playoff hunt while still auditioning for a starting job in free agency in 2020.

New Orleans improved it's record to 5-1 and lead the NFC South Division.

The Saints out gained Jacksonville in total yards 326-226.

Jacksonville had 11 first downs the entire contest.

This was Jacksonville's worst offensive game of the season.

The Saints defense limited Jacksonville wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. to three receptions for 43 yards as he was double-teamed throughout the game.

Minshew II finished the game throwing for 163 yards and one interception.

The Saints have now defeated Jacksonville four consecutive times.

They lead the all-time series 5-2.

After the game, Marrone gave credit to the Saints but admitted there is a lot of work to do as his team get's ready to hit the road and face the 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals.

"Today was a hard fought defensive battle," Marrone said. "We did well in the running game but overall, our offense wasn't in sync. We were not able to make plays. I have to do a good job and get them to play in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams. That starts with me.

"I liked the effort today, they played hard but have to play better. At the end of the day they (Saints) are a good football team. They're one of the best teams we'll play all year. They play well at all three levels. Their secondary did a real good job and covered us real well. At the end of the day, those guys are a pretty good team.

"Leonard did a good job with his play getting all purpose yards, but we have to get first downs so we can get everybody involved."

Minshew II said, "today was a tough day and they're a good team. I missed some balls that I can't afford to miss. They did a good job taking away our quick stuff. We have enough guys who can make plays and we will do better."

The announced crowd was 64,341. There appeared to be a lot of Saints fans to make the trip.

The Jaguars return home on October 27, 2019 at 1 pm to face the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field and see another up and coming QB in Sam Darnold.

The Jets (1-4) play the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.

These next two games are very winnable for the 2-4 Jaguars, who hope to reach the .500 mark by the end of the month. The combined record of the Bengals and the Jets is 1-10.

The Jaguars proceeded to trade Ramsey to the LA Rams on Wednesday for two first round picks and a number four in the next two drafts.

The Bengals lost to the Baltimore Ravens 23-17 while the Jets defeated the Dallas Cowboys 24-22.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is the Founder and CEO of The South Florida Tribune and The South Florida Tribune Broadcasting Network.

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