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Jaguars Mailbag: How Can Trevor Lawrence Keep His Momentum vs. the Chargers?

In this week's mailbag, we take questions on Jawaan Taylor, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence's challenge at hand in Week 3.

Each week during this year's season, Jaguar Report will take Jacksonville Jaguars-related questions from our readers across social media and answer them in a question-and-answer format, giving readers a chance to have their voices heard.

You can submit your questions every week by tweeting them to the Jaguar Report Twitter handle or by submitting them here.

This week we take questions on Trevor Lawrence, the Week 3 matchup against the Chargers and more.

Q: How do you see Evan Engram as a potential long-term solution at TE?

A: I think there is still more we can see from Evan Engram, even though he has had a really solid start to the season already -- and that is a good thing. Engram hasn't been used on any particularly impact plays, with the 36th-highest average depth of target (5.2 yards) among tight ends this year. He has done a good job of converting his short targets into first-downs, though, and he has been a high-effort player as a run-blocker, helping play a role in James Robinson's big rushing score vs. the Colts.

In short, Engram has been good so far, but he could be even better if he gets more chances downfield. So yes, I do think he could be a solution at tight end, especially with how respected he is inside the locker room and TIAA Bank Field.

Q: Can Jawaan Taylor be a top RT still? He has played great it seems like

A: We are going to find out this week, aren't we? This is the toughest matchup of Jawaan Taylor's career, at least since he played against Von Miller on the road in Denver in his rookie year in 2019. Taylor has been one of the most productive right takcles in pass-blocking in all of the NFL in 2022, allowing 0 pressures in 80+ reps. If he can prove to offer resistance to the Chargers' pass-rush and show he has truly taken a step forward, then the sky is the limit for him. This doesn't mean he has to be perfect and allow zero pressures, because that is unreasonable. But it does mean that if he can at least hold his own, the Jaguars can be encouraged. 

Q: Doug said the game plan each week is matchup based. Which matchups can we win against the Chargers and fuel this tiny spark of hope I've got?

A:  I think getting Christian Kirk (or any of the skill players) on linebackers in coverage is a big move the Jaguars could take advantage of. If there is a weakness in the Chargers' defensive personnel, it is their inside linebacker room. They don't have the horses to consistently keep up with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Travis Etienne and Evan Engram in coverage, so finding those isolation matchups will be key. 

Defensively, I think the Jaguars need to simply know who the Chargers are. They have a beaten down offensive line and an injured quarterback, so it is unlikely they are going to be an offense that throws the ball downfield consistently or holds onto the ball for long periods. They will get the ball out of the quarterback's hand quickly, so calling quick-hitting blitzes will be pivotal. 

Q: After watching them destroy the Colts' offense, why exactly was our defensive line so ineffective against the Commanders? Which unit do you think shows up against the Chargers?

A: I am not sure I would call it ineffective. The Jaguars dominated in the running game against Washington, similar to how they did vs. the Colts. The Jaguars also threw in a lot more games and stunts this past weekend, likely because of the different in mobility between Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. Ryan was a statue in the pocket while Wentz can tear a defense apart with his legs, so it is fair to see why the Jaguars were able to turn the pressure up vs. the Colts moreso than in Week 1.

Q: What are your honest expectations for the Chargers game? To me, if Herbert is playing the Jags will lose by double digits. Without Herbert, game on

A: I think the Jaguars can stick with the Chargers even if Herbert is playing. He is an X-Factor for a reason since he is one of the best quarterbacks in the entire NFL, but the Chargers have had close games with opponents on lower tiers before -- including in Week 1 when they let the Las Vegas Raiders hang around them most of the game. I think the game will ultimately depend on how the Jaguars' defense and offense each perform on third-down, with the winner having the edge. In terms of if Hebert is out, I think the Jaguars should have the edge over a Joe Lombardi/Chase Daniel pairing. If they don't...

Q: Do the Jags have a better chance against the Chargers? Or the Eagles? Is it possible to walk out of those two 1-1?

A: I honestly think the Chargers, just based on how each team is built. The Eagles are stout enough along the offensive line to combat the Jaguars' scheme and athletes in the front seven, but the Chargers with an injured offensive line and potentially banged up quarterback don't offer to same type of matchup. The biggest reason the Jaguars' defense has been successful on the ground and in terms of takeaways the last two weeks has been because of their efforts winning against each offensive line, so the Chargers' having a weakened line in comparison to the Eagles' elite front makes me think the Eagles will be a tougher matchup.

Q: How do you expect Press Taylor and Coach Pederson to attack the Chargers' defense this week?

A: That is a great question. I think what thee Chiefs showed us a week ago is probably the smartest way to attack the Chargers' and their two-high scheme. The Chiefs tried to establish the run early and often against the Chargers' lighter boxes, also mixing in plenty of screens and motions to combat the Chargers' man coverage. I think the Jaguars should lean on the run game and make a point to use their personnel to ensure Trevor Lawrence doesn't have to drop back for a full-field read on every play with Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack each coming for him on every snap.

The Jaguars have done a good job so far of adjusting their game plan and scheme based on the opponent they are playing, a first for the franchise in my four seasons covering them. The fact the Chiefs and one of Pederson's mentors in Andy Reid just played this Chargers' defense helps in terms of thinking about the potential matchup.

Q: Does the time of travel really matter when it comes to winning games on the other coast? 

A: I think so. I think the most important thing for professional athletes when it comes to home vs. away games is just how much road gams takes away from their routine. Traveling on the road is always a curveball in relation to how a player prepares for a game at home, and going coast to coast is ever more of an adjustment. So, at least in my mind, the Jaguars' decision to leave on Saturday instead of Friday is a smart one because it cuts down on how much time is spent out of the players' routines. The Jaguars left for the West Coast on Friday twice last year and those were arguably the team's two worst performances of the entire season.

Q: How can Trevor Lawrence keep his momentum this week? Can he be the guy from last week in every game?

A: Expecting Lawrence to play how he did last week on a consistent basis is both a tall but reasonable ask. The Jaguars shouldn't expect to see Lawrence set career-high type numbers in terms of efficiency every week, but the Jaguars also will not play a scheme like Gus Bradley's every Sunday. With that said, Lawrence continuing to at least show progress from last year will be the sign of whether he can keep his momentum. Can he continue to make good decisions and be safe with the ball? Can his accuracy, especially on third-down, continue to look noticeably improved? And can he continue to get the ball out of his hand quickly, something he failed to do Week 1? That is what will give us our answers.

Q: How can the Jaguars get to where the Chargers are now? Can they?

A: I think they can of course get to where the Chargers are now, which is a team filled with blue-chip talent on both sides of the ball and primed for playoff contention. The most important factors are having a quarterback and a young core. Justin Herbert is one of the best quarterbacks in the entire NFL so, naturally, the Jaguars would need Trevor Lawrence to elevate his game for the Jaguars to reach the Chargers' level consistently. 

Then there is the sheer top-level depth on the Chargers' team. They have blue-chip players at quarterback, running back, receiver (two), offensive tackle, center, edge rusher (two), cornerback, and safety, and a host of other young players who look the part. The Jaguars have some really exciting young talent, but the Chargers' core is more established.