New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is aware of the Jacksonville Jaguars' athletic defensive unit and has already begun preparing his offense for a new challenge with a NFL Super Bowl berth on the line.
Defending champions the Patriots rolled past the Tennessee Titans last week, earning a spot in the AFC championship round, but their next opponent is a bit of a surprise.
Many believed New England would host the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, but Jacksonville pulled off a shocking upset. The Jaguars' young defense forced turnovers at key moments, as they have done all season.
"We're kind of working our way through it here. We're not where we're going to be on Wednesday," Belichick said Monday during a media conference call. "We have a lot of work to do. We haven't seen them in quite a while, but obviously, they're well coached.
"They have a lot of good players. We saw that from training camp. They've been in two close games and they've made a lot of critical plays in critical situations. They've made the plays they've had to make, and that's what you have to do at this time of year."
Despite the Jaguars' inexperience in the playoffs, Belichick marvelled at how organised and mature they looked against the Steelers.
"Very impressive," Belichick said of the Jaguars win. "They did a great job. They do a lot of things well, play good defense, can rush the passer, can stop the run, turn the ball over, can run the ball, have a lot of explosive players in the passing game, they're good in the kicking game, they're very aggressive in the kicking game. They're well coached.
"I know that, for sure. They've handled the situations that have come up in those games very well — fourth-and-one in the first quarter, things like that. They've really done a good job, so yeah, it's impressive."
Jacksonville utilises a blend of power and speed on their defense, something Belichick noticed. He singled out a few players who have caught his eye.
"They have some fast players. Some big players, too, like Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson and guys like that," Belichick said. "I mean, they've got a lot of good football players. They bring a lot of problems. They bring speed, size, power, instincts, athleticism. [Jalen] Ramsey — I mean, he's a big corner now. They've got a lot of good football players that have a lot of skill."
The Patriots are trying to defend their Super Bowl title, but will first have to execute their way past a tricky Jaguars squad on Sunday, playing some of their best football on both sides of the ball.
|Silver supports NBA players speaking out on social issues|
|NHL commissioner Bettman condemns ´reprehensible´ Smith-Pelly abuse|
|Blackhawks fans ejected after racist heckling of Capitals´ Smith-Pelly|
|Donovan Mitchell caps NBA All-Star challenges with dunk success|
|Steve Nash, Ray Allen among Basketball Hall of Fame finalists|
|Kevin Love: It was necessary to clean house in Cleveland|
|LeBron James thanks Ingraham as Cavs All-Star vows to speak his mind|
|Archer says Rays could have best rotation in baseball|
|Kevin Durant: Laura Ingraham´s ignorant comment was racist|
|Astros manager Hinch on Cole: He doesn´t need to be fixed|
|Kobe Bryant says Lakers ´shouldn´t need´ to recruit free agents|
|Jokic makes history as Nuggets, Wolves enter All-Star break with wins|
|Blue Jays sign pitcher Garcia to one-year deal|
|McCarron a free agent after winning grievance against Bengals|
|Klopp´s cakes, Allen´s tape and Batman Fury - Conte joins ranks of weird press conferences|
|Fitzgerald to return for 15th season, confirms Cardinals coach Wilks|
|Jordan nearly perfect to lead Clippers past Celtics|
|Warriors coach Kerr again calls for gun control after Florida shooting|
|Postcard from Pyeongchang: Beaten USA set for another great Olympic story|
|Lakers rookie Ball to return after All-Star break|
|Porzingis vows to come back ´stronger, better and sharper than ever´|
|Seattle submits official application & down payment for NHL expansion|
|Cavs soar into All-Star break, Rockets down Timberwolves|
|Flyers G Elliott to miss up to six weeks|
|Knicks star Porzingis set to miss 10 months after surgery|
|Manning to drive pace car at Daytona 500|
|Jazz rally past depleted Spurs for 10th straight win|
|Cardinals sign GM Keim to contract extension|
|Winter Olympics 2018: Chelios frustrated by ´politics´ in IOC-NHL pay dispute|
|LeBron falls short of triple-double as Cavs kick-start new era, Rockets win eighth straight|
|Bryant says he would be protesting during the national anthem if still in NBA|
|Mets pitcher Wheeler undergoes stomach injections to promote bone strength|
|Kings´ Brown suspended one game for kneeing Sergachev|
|LeBron James revels in new-look Cavs after win over Celtics|
|Colts hire Reich after McDaniels saga|
|Penguins´ Sidney Crosby nets 400th goal|
|Thomas ´got powers back´ in Lakers debut|
|Warriors break out of ´rough patch´ in impressive win against Spurs|
|Pierce a better offensive player than Bird, says Parish|
|Utah Jazz waive former MVP Derrick Rose|
|Korver leads Cavs, Wade saves day in return to Miami|
|Simmons can´t figure out why he isn´t an All-Star|
|Blue Jackets´ Werenski takes skate to groin|
|Senators give GM Dorion three-year contract extension|
|Garoppolo ready to continue winning in San Francisco|
|Vikings hire Eagles QB coach DeFilippo as OC|
|Sherman expects to stay with Seahawks|
|Thomas trade positions Lakers to chase elite stars, says Magic Johnson|
|Celtics outlast Wizards in OT, Warriors end skid|
|NBA trade deadline roundup: Cavaliers dominate headlines, clean out bench|
|Jason Kelce goes on epic rant as Eagles celebrate Super Bowl win|
|NBA fines Draymond Green $50K for offensive language toward official|
|Cleveland GM Altman: Cavs were marching a slow death before trades|
|Walker replaces Porzingis in NBA All-Star Game|
|Chiefs release CB Darrelle Revis|
|49ers sign Garoppolo to record five-year $137.5m deal|
|Wade gets Miami homecoming as Cavs clean house|
|Cavaliers send Isaiah Thomas to Lakers|
|Super Bowl LII: Millions of Eagles fans pack parade route to celebrate win|
|Thomas ´tired of being traded´ and wants Cavs stay|
|Harden leads Rockets to sixth straight win, Suns lose by 48 to Spurs|
|WATCH: LeBron James hits buzzer-beater to lift Cavs in OT|
|Rained out: Leaky roof forces NBA to postpone Pacers-Pelicans|
|Senators´ Burrows suspended for 10 games for kneeing Devils´ Hall|
|Knicks send Willy Hernangomez to Hornets|
|Yankees acquire Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in trade with Rangers|
|Shazier will be part of Steelers in 2018 ´one way or the other´|
|AS Monaco finally lose as final play-off spots are settled|
|Agent drops Josh McDaniels after Colts coaching controversy|
|Former Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo to play PGA Tour event|