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The 2021 season has been unkind to the Jaguars so far. From four consecutive losses to start off the year to off-field drama for yet another season, the Jaguars need a win in the worst way in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans, even if just for one week of positive feelings.

How does the Jaguar Report staff think the Jaguars' third home game of the season unfolds? Who wins, and why? We break it all down below in the Week 5 roundtable.

1) Derrick Henry... can an improved Jags' run defense stop him?

John Shipley: I don't think so, at least not for four quarters. The Jaguars have been much improved against the run this season and they have seen several players (Adam Gotsis, DaVon Hamilton) have breakout performances up front, but I don't think the Jaguars have the same front seven depth the Ravens had when they deployed their anti-Henry attack on the Titans' offense last year. The Jaguars have been strong against running games in the first half of games, but the second-half has been a different story as the Jaguars fail to adjust for blocking scheme adjustments at halftime. I think Henry starts off slow but quickly gets up to speed as the game progresses. 

Gus Logue: I think hoping that history repeats itself may be Jacksonville's best hope against Derrick Henry: in the two seasons he started both games against the Jaguars (2019 and 2020), Henry has averaged 21 carries for 64 yards and 0.5 touchdowns in the first matchup but 22.5 carries for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns in the second matchup.

Joe Cullen was part of a Baltimore defensive coaching staff that limited Henry to just 40 rushing yards on 18 attempts in last year's playoff game against the Titans, but the Ravens have a far more talented front to get the job done. While Jacksonville has played relatively well against the run this season, its best bet to limit Henry may be jumping out to an early lead in order to force Tennessee to consider abandoning the running game and rely more heavily on drop back pass attempts as opposed to a master game plan against Henry himself. 

Kassidy Hill: You can’t stop Derrick Henry, you can only hope to slow him down. He leads the league in rushing yards, yards per game, total rushing attempts and is second in rushing touchdowns (to only Sam Darnold, because who else). He’s a Mack truck that has to be accounted for at every level of the defense. I don’t know if I’ve seen enough to trust the linebacker corps with Damien Wilson in the middle to do that, or the secondary with Tyson Campbell yet or the backend to clean things up. The front seven can definitely slow him down—the defense overall is 13th in the league, allowing 106.3 rushing yards per game right now—but Henry’s averaging a ridiculous 127.5 per game and he only gets stronger as the game goes on.

The key to stopping Derrick Henry has always been easy to figure out…hit him hard and hit him early. The execution is the hard part. Every member of that front-seven, and those behind them, will have to step up to do just that against the best rusher in the league. 

2) No DJ Chark for the offense, so which WR do you think steps up this week?

John Shipley: Jamal Agnew, which is a bit weird to say but feels true. Tyron Johnson simply doesn't have the trust of the coaching staff, with both Darrell Bevell and Urban Meyer saying as much in recent days. Agnew has at least created some explosive plays on offense at times this season and has experience with Bevell, so he looks like the current favorite. He has also been the first name mentioned by both Bevell and Meyer this week when talking about potential replacements for Chark, though Tavon Austin, Laquon Treadwell, and Johnson were all also mentioned. Right now it seems like the Jaguars will lean toward Agnew, though that could change if Johnson does more and more to earn trust moving forward. 

Gus Logue: I'm going to cheat a little bit here and go with tight end Dan Arnold (he converted from wide receiver in 2018 so I say it counts). Following the loss of Chark and the addition of Arnold, it only makes sense for the Jaguars to increase its usage of two tight end sets, which would allow Darnold to see a significant amount of playing time. The undrafted University of Wisconsin-Platteville product is now on his fourth NFL team in the same amount of seasons, but given his high-end athleticism and Darrell Bevell's encouraging comments, I think Darnold can make a big impact as soon as this week after getting an extra few days to learn the playbook following Jacksonville's last game on Thursday Night Football. There have been only six instances of a Jaguars tight end reaching 500 receiving yards in franchise history, with Marcedes Lewis in 2012 being the latest, so Arnold doesn't exactly have a high bar to pass in Jacksonville. 

Kassidy Hill: If this was two years ago, no DJ Chark would be a problem. Even a year ago it still would’ve been a concern. But the Jaguars have enough now to make up for the absence while Chark recovers from a broken ankle. Now, don’t take that to mean Chark isn’t important. He is, very much so. Having him in there to stretch the field can be a game changer. But the Jags and quarterback Trevor Lawrence have also figured out how to play without always looking for the home-run shot. Letting Laviska Shenault work in space, trusting Marvin Jones over the middle and even the recent emergence of Jamal Agnew as a sideline threat, all do more than enough to make up for the lack of DJ Chark for the time being. 

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3) Does Trevor Lawrence take yet another step forward this week?

John Shipley: Yes. Lawrence has already played several defenses better than the Titans defense he is going to play in Week 5, including the Cincinnati Bengals the week before. It truly seems as if Lawrence is seeing the field better, making better decisions, and is more accurate with the ball each and every week. The play he has put on the field in the last two weeks compared to his first two weeks has been a complete 180 reversal, and there is no reason to think a bad Titans' defense will change that. This is the same Titans defense that Zach Wilson made big throw after big throw against, so I have little reason to expect different for Lawrence, who has been trending upward and improving at an even faster pace than Wilson.

Gus Logue: Yes, I think so. Lawrence looked like he was truly in the zone for the first time in his young NFL career against the Bengals last week, and I think with a few extra days of preparation and rest the Jaguars offense as a whole should be able to put up points against Tennessee's porous defense. The loss of Chark certainly hurts, but I think Jacksonville still has just enough talent around Lawrence to allow him to continue his week-to-week progression as a professional football thrower. If he can continue to limit turnovers and convert easy throws like he has in recent weeks, Lawrence should have a much better performance than he did in his first divisional matchup. 

Kassidy Hill: Every week we’ve seen Lawrence progress. I have no reason to think that won’t happen again against the Titans. He’s playing aggressive and risky, which isn’t a bad idea on a bad team. He has the luxury of figuring things out this year with little backlash. And as such, he’s learning quicker than he ever could by playing it safe. The Titans defense is giving up an average of 8.4 yards per pass attempt. Lawrence has improved his vision, along with other skills, and each week we see him do better and better at going through his progressions, taking what’s there and moving the offense in decent bite-size chunks as a result. So I tend to think he can pick apart this defense across the middle, especially since—without Chark—the players he’ll have at his disposal make their money in that area of the field.

4) Can the Jaguars' defense limit Ryan Tannehill for, well, their first time?

John Shipley: I don't think so. Ryan Tannehill has absolutely carved the Jaguars' defense up over the last two seasons, and the Jaguars have shown nothing on defense this year to suggest that will change. In three starts against the Jaguars in the last two seasons, Tannehill has completed 77.27% of his passes for 11.06 yards per attempt, eight touchdowns, zero interceptions, and two rushing scores. He has beat the Jaguars over and over with the Titans' play-action scheme because he does a fantastic job of fitting the ball into tight spaces at the second level and in between the soft zones in a defense. Perhaps I would feel differently about the Jaguars' chances to stop Tannehill if they had looked able to stop a play-action passing game at all in the first month of the season, but the Jaguars have failed to do that with each test. The Jaguars have been shredded in the air for four games in a row, and I think that continues this week.

Gus Logue: It's long been established that Ryan Tannehill has been as efficient as he's been in Tennessee thanks in part to heavy doses of play action- which the Jaguars do not seem prepared to stop. According to Sports Info Solutions, Jacksonville has allowed the second-most yards and third-most yards per attempt against play action this season. The Bengals were able to utilize play action with ease against in the first half of last week's game, and I think that trend will continue this week against the Titans. Julio Jones' unavailability for Sunday's game will allow Shaquill Griffin to matchup against A.J. Brown on the majority of snaps, but I don't trust the front of the defense to not be fooled by fake handoffs and designed rollouts as it keys in on stopping Henry. If there were ever a time for the Jaguars to finally start converting pressures into sacks it'd be this week. 

Kassidy Hill: On paper, yes. This defense under Joe Cullen is set up to counteract play-action, which is what Tannehill runs better than any other quarterback in the league. Josh Allen is the key, as he can rush or drop into coverage dependent purely on what Tannehill does, not on the defensive play-call. In other words, he can effectively end any play. There has been a lot of conversation recently around Allen dropping into coverage so much, and it should be noted, that’s what his position is called to do in this offense, it’s what he did so well in college and it’s honestly what he’s doing well now under Cullen. The problem isn’t Allen dropping into coverage, it’s not having another strong pass rusher to take on the backfield in his place. If K’Lavon Chaisson can progress more and get push, that would help tremendously. Adam Gotsis was originally a third-down defensive end, but he and Allen are the only players with two sacks thus far, and he leads the team in tackles for loss. Maybe it’s time to wonder if he should play more opposite Allen? 

5) Final predictions?

John Shipley: Titans 37, Jaguars 24. I truly don't think anything will come from the Urban Meyer apology tour in terms of an on-field distraction, because these players are more focused on not going 0-5. Even with that said, I still don't think this is a game with matchups that favor the Jaguars. Neither defense is capable of providing many stops, but the Titans have A.J. Brown, Derrick Henry and Harold Landry. Those are three genuine game-changers who can completely take over a four-quarter contest, and I am not sure the Jaguars have any players who are the caliber of those three. For that reason, I am going to lean the Titans in a high-scoring affair. 

Gus Logue: Titans 27, Jaguars 23. Everything is coming together in a perfect storm for Jacksonville, as the Urban Meyer fiasco has overshadowed the growth of Lawrence and the rest of the team from week to week. Add in the facts that the Jaguars have a rest advantage, the Titans have a myriad of injuries, Brandon Wright can make an extra point, and Jacksonville should see positive defensive regression (it ranks last in sacks and turnovers this season). It would only be right if the Jaguars started and ended its 19-game losing streak against the divisional rival Titans, but I think Tennessee will be able to bounce back after last week's loss against the Jets and keep Jacksonville's streak alive for at least another week. 

Kassidy Hill: Examining the individual aspects of this game makes me believe the Jaguars could win. The offense is improving, the special teams has Jamal Agnew and look to be on an upward swing at kicker, the defense finally has a game plan that can stop the play-action…but until the Jaguars actually put together a full four quarter, 60-minute game and prove to me they know how to win, I’m going to believe they can’t. Plus, you know, Derrick Henry.

It’ll be close at halftime, but it won’t be enough. Titans, 34-24