The Jacksonville Jaguars will have a chance to avenge their national television loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 of last season in October -- only now, the game will be played in London instead of in Jacksonville.
The Dolphins were announced as the Jaguars' Week 6 London opponent earlier on Wednesday, taking away the biggest piece of guesswork on the Jaguars' schedule. It will be the first time the two teams clash on an international playing field, creating a historic matchup for each side.
What does the game vs. Miami being moved to London mean? We weigh in with a few thoughts below.
Facing Brian Flores' defensive scheme in London is a tough break for Trevor Lawrence
The most improved defense in the NFL last season, the Miami Dolphins went from the No. 32 ranked defense in DVOA in 2019 to No. 11 in 2020, a result of Brian Flores' multifaceted scheme and the Dolphins improving all three levels of their defense. Just ask the Jaguars from last season. After two efficient offensive games to start off the year, the Jaguars and Gardner Minshew were completely grounded by the Dolphins because they failed to generate proper protection to limit the Dolphins' blitz packages.
Fast forward a year and the Dolphins could be expected to be even better on defense with the addition of first-round edge rusher Jaelan Phillips. Brian Flores and his defense limited Justin Herbert to 5.84 yards per pass in the middle of his historic rookie campaign. The Dolphins were always going to be a tough draw for the Jaguars considering their defensive scheme and the Jaguars' impending decision to make rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence the starter.
Taking what was already a tough matchup for Lawrence and forcing him to travel overseas into a new environment -- a trip that the NFL's players and coaches have often described as draining -- and this could be one of Lawrence's toughest challenges in his entire rookie season. This would have likely been the case had it been played in Jacksonville, but taking it to London just adds another tough element to the clash.
Key matchups to consider include Cullen vs. Tua, Chark/Shenault/Jones vs. Byron Jones/Xavien Howard
The headliner of this game will clearly be Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa in a rematch of their National Championship game from years ago, but there are a number of matchups in this game that will offer intrique and could prove to be the difference-maker when it comes to the results. Here are a few that immediately catch the eye.
- Joe Cullen vs. Tua Tagovailoa: After a rookie year in which Tagovailoa struggled to hold onto the starting job or perform consistently, there are a lot of questions about how he may look in his second year. He can either be the dynamic dual-threat he was at Alabama, or the quarterback with a slow trigger and iffy decision-making that he was in 2020. What will help decide that outcome in Week 6 will be what Jaguars' defensive coordinator Joe Cullen throws at the young signal-caller. Cullen is expected to deploy a defense with similarities to Miami's own defense due to its multiplicity and how it keeps offenses guessing at the line of scrimmage, a scheme that should keep Miami on its toes.
- The Dolphins have arguably the NFL's best cornerback duo in Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, and that doesn't even mention 2020 first-round corner Noah Igbinoghene. The Jaguars, however, have a solid wide receiver trio with established playmakers in DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, and Laviska Shenault. How the Jaguars' young duo and veteran leader stack up against the Dolphins' secondary will tell us a lot about the Jaguars' offense.
- The Dolphins will have a first-rounder at left tackle in Austin Jackson and a second-round pick at right tackle in Liam Eichenberg. Meanwhile, the Jaguars will trot out two former first-rounders and top-20 picks on the edge with Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson. The Dolphins won that matchup easily in 2020, so the Jaguars' duo will need to turn up their performance a bit.
- Speaking of receivers vs cornerbacks, how is this? DeVante Parker, Will Fuller V, and Jaylen Waddle against Shaquill Griffin, CJ Henderson, and Tyson Campbell. Those are six very talented and very athletic players, which could make this game appointment viewing for fans of receiver/cornerback battles.
Jaguars are lucky to not lose an AFC South home game to London
Losing a home game to London is never an ideal on-field situation for the Jaguars; their continued treks to London have never proven to give them any type of advantage, and their last game overseas was a 26-3 blowout in 2019 that led to the beginning of the end for former head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell. With that said, the Jaguars did get one lucky outcome with this year's London schedule: no AFC South games.
Two of the Jaguars' seven London games have been against AFC South opponents, which is likely two more than the Jaguars would want. While the Jaguars have played in London more than any other NFL franchise in recent years, a home game in London doesn't have nearly the same advages a home game in Jacksonville has. And since the six most important games on the schedule each year are a team's divisional games, losing one of three home games against a divisional rival is borderline disastrous. Luckily for the Jaguars, they will see the Colts, Titans, and Texans all in Jacksonville this season.