The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't exactly have the start to the 2021 season they wanted, but they have a chance to reverse course at home against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
How does the Jaguar Report staff think the Jaguars' first home game of the season unfolds? Who wins, and why? We break it all down below in the Week 2 roundtable.
1) Can the Jaguars slow down Teddy Bridgewater, or will he have a Tyrod Taylor-like game?
John Shipley: I think the Jaguars' defense looks better this week, but Teddy Bridgewater just seems like a bad matchup for them. He is a smart and consistent veteran quarterback, and he has many of the same traits to his game that Tyrod Taylor has. Bridgewater has the accuracy and toughness to beat the Jaguars from the pocket, while also the mobility and ability to extend plays to beat them when the plays break down. The Jaguars may be able to limit big plays, but it is hard for me to think they can force Bridgewater into many mistakes.
Gus Logue: I’ll see it when I believe it. Jacksonville had 25 total quarterback pressures in week 1 (second-most in the league) but brought Tyrod Taylor down just once.
Bridgewater has a similar playing style as Taylor as a smart, veteran game manager with great feel in the pocket. Non-Josh Allen defenders will need to step up or else Bridgewater could turn Jacksonville’s defense into burnt toast for the second week in a row.
Kassidy Hill: I won't believe the Jaguars can slow down a quarterback until I see them do it, so for now, I'm going to believe Bridgewater will have a Tyrod Taylor like game. Maybe even more so, since Bridgewater is a more mobile quarterback. He has great awareness, as he showed versus the New York Giants, recognizing blitzes and pressure. Combined with his elusiveness, he can nullify a lot of pressure. Combined with the fact that the Jaguars front seven showed little push versus the Texans, and Bridgewater will likely have a clean pocket and the edges to run too, where he can be dangerous.
2) Can Trevor Lawrence find any success vs. Vic Fangio or will it be another rough game?
John Shipley: Just with what we know about Trevor Lawrence's style, I'm going to lean toward him having some issues with Vic Fangio's scheme and Denver's talented defense. Lawrence isn't the type of quarterback to stand down and take the small plays, with most of his NFL experience thus far being defined by his eagerness to make big plays. This same eagerness led to his three interceptions in Week 1, and the Broncos have the scheme and talent to force Lawrence into similar mistakes. Lawrence has the natural talent to create some big plays, but I also think the Broncos can make his natural aggressiveness result in negative plays.
Gus Logue: I’m typically all for Lawrence stripping off his tie and throwing on his Superman cape, but this Broncos defense is one that lives off preventing explosive passing plays. He’ll need to do a better job of getting to his checkdowns and shorter reads quicker against one of the better secondaries in the league, and Bevell and co. must do their part as well in prioritizing RPOs, screens, and routes to the flats in their game plan. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lawrence continuing to test what he can and can’t get away with in the NFL despite a tough matchup.
Kassidy Hill: I can't imagine Lawrence having two bad games in a row. Even though he had back-to-back losses in the preseason, it's arguable that his performance versus the New Orleans Saints showed marked improvement. Then he picked apart the Dallas Cowboys. He was able to describe, in detail, everything he did wrong versus the Texans. And his entire history indicates he knows how to take that knowledge and apply it to the next game. Will that be enough for a Jaguars win? Probably not. But I think we see a sharper Lawrence versus the Broncos, no matter what defense Fangio brings to the table.
3) Do the Jaguars finally lean on James Robinson or does he become a non factor again?
I would imagine they start off the game with a dedicated effort to get James Robinson the ball. The Jaguars failed to do so last week after a mix of a pass-heavy game script and penalties forced the Jaguars to play one-dimensionally, but the Jaguars know they can't afford to do the same thing against a Broncos defense that is begging for offenses to throw the ball. The best way to slow down Von Miller is to reduce his pass-rush snaps. To give Trevor Lawrence a chance, I think the Jaguars finally do lean on Robinson, or at least they do to start the game.
Gus Logue: I’m not sure that the team will ever “lean on” Robinson in any game this season, considering that Lawrence is unequivocally the center point of the offense, Jacksonville’s likely negative game scripts, the the coaching staff’s affinity for Carlos Hyde.
With that said, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea to feature Robinson more, as he’s proved time and time again his worth on the football field as a reliable chains-mover. He’ll likely need to be involved in the ground and through the air on Sunday for Jacksonville’s offense to be as productive as possible.
Kassidy Hill: If they have any respect for the game, they'll lean on Robinson. Five touches versus in week one was an abomination. But Urban Meyer wants to stretch the field, and show what he can do in the process. I fear he'll push Lawrence and Marvin Jones until it's too late. And what's even more confounding about that is, he's leaned on a run game before and won. The 2014 Ohio State National Championship run was all about the Buckeyes ground game, relying on Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Cardale Jones' legs. It will become clear before long that Robinson getting closer to 20 touches a game can drive this offense. The more touches Robinson received a game in 2020, the closer the Jags were to pulling one out. That'll be the case again here, if the coaches are willing to trust the young star.
4) How equipped is the Jaguars' OL to stop Von Miller and Bradley Chubb?
John Shipley: If the Jaguars lean on James Robinson and Chris Manhertz as reinforcements to the offensive line, the Jaguars have a chance. Manhertz pass blocked just as much as he ran routes last week, and he had a terrific game as an extra edge protector for Trevor Lawrence on slow developing play-action plays. Von Miller will give Jawaan Taylor some issues, but the Jaguars have the skill players to help compensate for the disadvantage.
Gus Logue: The good news for the Jaguars is that Bradley Chubb is questionable with an ankle injury, but the bad news is that Von Miller looked very much like his typical self in week 1. That’s a frightening thought for a Jaguars offensive line which allowed constant pressure against a pedestrian Texans four-man rush last Sunday. Again, Jacksonville will have to focus on getting the ball out of Lawrence’s hands quickly with shorter route concepts to have a chance in this game. It will be interesting to see if the Jaguars use its tight ends and running backs to chip block or provide any other help to its offensive line.
Kassidy Hill: You don't stop Von Miller, you only wish to slow him down. And too much focus on him allows Chubb a chance at the backfield. Granted, Chubb is questionable. But if he's in there, only so much can be done to stop the Broncos. Lawrence has done a great job moving the pocket, but that's also been because he's under pressure too often. It could be counteracted by leaning on Robinson and letting him get to the edge away from Miller. But as we already mentioned, there's no guarantee of that happening. I just think there are still too many concerns on the right side of the line and the Broncos will take advantage.
5) Final predictions?
John Shipley: Broncos 31, Jaguars 23. I think the Jaguars have better success on the ground and overall offensively, but not enough to knock off a Broncos offense that will be able to both create explosive plays and stay on the field on third-down. This just feels like a game in which Teddy Bridgewater has a massive performance and becomes a thorn in the Jaguars' side for four quarters.
Gus Logue: Broncos 20, Jaguars 16. Bridgewater looked impressive against the Giants in the season opener and I don’t see any reason why he won’t have a strong day from the pocket like Taylor did against Jacksonville. And while Lawrence has displayed incredible flashes of truly elite quarterbacking, he also hasn’t consistently put the team in the best position to win with his decision-making, and I’m pessimistic that that begins this week against Fangio’s unit.
Kassidy Hill: Broncos, 31-17. Denver looked sharper than expected last week and the Jags looked much more sluggish than expected. While I think the latter will look marginally better on Sunday, it won't be enough. The combination of Von Miller and Patrick Surtain and Courtland Sutton and an emerging Teddy Bridgewater, it'll be too much for the Jags, who are still figuring out who they'll be as a team.