Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Scouting Report: Jaguars' Top Game Wreckers | Week 16 

A look at the Jaguars’ top playmakers who could impact the outcome of Sunday’s matchup


With three weeks left in the 2023 regular NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Christmas Eve. The 7-7 Buccaneers are tied for first place in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints and are currently slated as the fourth seed in the NFC. The 8-6 Jaguars sit atop the AFC South by a tiebreaker. Both teams are moving in opposite directions as Tampa Bay is riding a three-game win streak and Jacksonville has dropped three in a row – all to AFC teams in the hunt. The Jaguars started off with a rousing 8-3 start and have since endured a roller coaster of ups and downs. In Week 16, the Jaguars may have a change under center as starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence is in the concussion protocol. The Bucs will vie to build off their most complementary game of the season against the Green Bay Packers in Week 15 as Baker Mayfield posted a perfect 158.3 QBR. It was a full-team effort in Green Bay as the Bucs embraced a "playoff mentality." Tampa Bay has adopted a singular focus, and the team has adopted a sense of urgency as the club pursues a third-straight division title. The Jaguars boast a top-10 scoring offense led by route-running technician Calvin Ridley, pass-catching tight end Evan Engram and dynamic running back Travis Etienne Jr. Their defense is led by explosive outside linebacker Josh Allen and tackling machine Foyesade Oluokun. Here are five players who could impact the game in favor of Jacksonville on Sunday:

 OLB Josh Allen

 Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen is having a sensational campaign, already setting career highs in sacks (13.5), quarterback hits (26), and tackles for loss (13) through Week 15. He sets the tone on the Jaguars' defense and is proficient at both rushing the passer and dropping into coverage. Allen challenges tackles with elite explosiveness and forward-charge off a lethal first step. He has the capability of maintaining his speed and momentum around the edge and Allen has the athletic traits to chase down ball carriers in space. In coverage, he blankets tight ends and running backs with route recognition. Allen has established himself among the league's hierarchy at the position and Baker Mayfield will be mindful of where he lines up on every play. Last season, Allen posted a career-high 83.0 run-defense grade that ranked third among edge defenders. Allen was one of just three edge defenders to play more than 1,000 snaps, and he was also one of five edge defenders to drop into coverage 100 or more times. He may not receive the recognition that Micah Parsons or Nick Bosa command, but Allen is just as impactful on the gridiron.

WR Calvin Ridley

Receiver Calvin Ridley, who was acquired via trade by the Jaguars in November of 2022, was reinstated by the NFL in March following his suspension. Ridley produced 248 career receptions for 3,242 yards and 28 touchdowns in 49 games spanning four seasons with the Falcons. He became Matt Ryan's go-to target in Atlanta and has developed a rapport with Trevor Lawrence (concussion protocol) in Jacksonville. In 2023, Ridley has amassed 60 receptions for 781 yards and five touchdowns. Ridley possesses rare wiggle after the catch. He can sell a route, then stick his foot in the ground and start on a dime. The technically-sound route-running master consistently changes the tempo of his routes to bait defensive backs and smoothly transitions at the stem. Ridley's footwork is crisp along the route and if given a free release, he will take advantage. He is quick into breaks and has electric speed that forces defensive backs to play on their heels. The Bucs' secondary will face a steep challenge in Ridley.

RB Travis Etienne Jr.

Travis Etienne Jr. ranks ninth in the NFL in rushing yards with 837 and eighth in the league in rushing touchdowns with nine. Throughout the highs and lows of the Jaguars' season, Etienne has been a consistent force, carrying a heavy workload. The former first-round pick out of Clemson possesses top-end speed in the open field and the physicality to win in goal-line situations. Etienne is able to power his way through contact with balance and he takes pride in stopping blitzers through the A-gaps. He has a good feel for when to cut and is patient in letting blocks develop. Etienne has been plagued with a ribs injury during the season and he will strive to reach peak form against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay will have to be disciplined in run fits and pursuit leverage going up against Etienne.

TE Evan Engram

Tight end Evan Engram currently leads the Jaguars in receptions with 88 and has elevated Doug Pederson's use of multiple tight end sets. The former New York Giant signed with the Jaguars in 2022 and set career-highs in both receptions (73) and receiving yards (766). He has accumulated 729 yards in 2023 and bolsters Jacksonville's offense. Engram explodes into his routes and possesses nimble feet and hip fluidity in-and-out of his breaks. He has the vertical speed to work down the seam and transitions into a physical runner after the catch. Engram causes matchup problems and the Bucs' will have to try and contain one of the league's elite at the tight end position.

LB Foyesade Oluokun

The NFL's back-to-back reigning tackles leader, Foyesade Oluokun, is among the league hierarchy and has produced at a premier level over the past few years. Oluokun set the NFL mark for tackles in a season in 2021 with 192 tackles and led the NFL in tackles (184) and solo tackles (128), while leading the Jaguars in tackles for loss (12) in 2022. A sixth-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2018 NFL Draft, Oluokun signed a three-year $45 million deal with the Jaguars during the 2022 offseason. He is a textbook tackler with wrap-up technique and has the athleticism to cover running backs and tight ends. The tackling menace wears the green dot and the Bucs' will have to key in on his whereabouts at all times on Sunday.

Related Content

Latest Headlines