The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to flip the script in Week 2.
After a 37-21 beatdown at the hands of the Houston Texans last Sunday, the Jaguars are happy to be back at home to host the Denver Broncos in Week 2. But it will take several big performances for the Jaguars to upset the Broncos and improve to 1-1.
Who are the Jaguars' most important players in Week 2? Whose performances will determine if they can beat Denver? We break down our picks below.
RT Jawaan Taylor
Few offensive tackles face bigger challenges than Jawaan Taylor in Week 2. The third-year right tackle faced Von Miller in a baptism by fire during his rookie season in 2019, but 2021 is a different animal. Miller is fresh off an absolutely dominant performance against the New York Giants' right tackle Nate Solder, a game in which he recorded two sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. He was a game-wrecker, dominating the matchup from start to finish and looking like the Miller of old through and through.
Taylor will now have to face Miller on essentially every snap on Sunday, likely the toughest matchup he will get all season long. Taylor was mostly solid against the Texans in Week 1, allowing two pressures per Pro Football Focus, but he was also hit for two penalties and has run into penalty issues in his first clash against Miller. For the Jaguars to keep drives alive and prevent turnovers, they will need Taylor to be at his very best.
WR Marvin Jones Jr.
The Broncos have arguably the NFL's best secondary, even when accounting for the loss of starting cornerback Ronald Darby due to injury. As a result, the Jaguars' starting receivers will face Kyle Fuller and first-round pick Patrick Surtain Jr., who had some dominant performances throughout the course of the preseason. Jacksonville's receiver group only dropped one catchable pass against the Texans per Sports Info Solutions, but they will face a more physical secondary with some more variations in coverages on Sunday.
As a result of the challenges facing the Jaguars' receiver room -- which are only expounded by a rookie quarterback under center -- it will be key for Marvin Jones Jr. to step up. Jones is the Jaguars' veteran offensive leader and Trevor Lawrence's safety blanket and had one of the best games of any of the team's players in Week 1, but bringing the consistency to the home test against Surtain and the rest of the Broncos' secondary will be pivotal.
FS Rayshawn Jenkins
Rayshawn Jenkins was just an arm extension away from an interception on the second drive of the game against the Texans. Instead, Brandin Cooks came down with the ball and a gain of north of 40 yards, putting the Texans at the Jaguars' goal line and swinging momentum their way. For the Jaguars to generate some of their own momentum, and even build some confidence, it will take them forcing some negative plays of their own. Jenkins is the Jaguars' best hope of doing that considering his role in the defense.
Jenkins will be faced with a tough task in the Denver offense. Teddy Bridgewater had a terrific Week 1 outing while the Broncos are deep at pass-catching options at tight end, running back, and wide receiver. Jenkins is one of the Jaguars most important defenders in general, but especially in a game in which they badly need some positive swings and ball bounces going their way.
LB Myles Jack
The Broncos love using multiple tight ends. According to Sports Info Solutions, the Broncos dropped back three times with three tight ends on the field (fifth-most in Week 1), 13 times with two tight ends on the field (sixth-most), and had three-tight end and two-tight end formations on the field for the second-most run plays. Noah Fant, Eric Saubert, and Albert Okwuegbunam are all going to play a lot, so it will be key for Myles Jack to provide some resistance in the middle of the field.
Jacksonville struggled with covering tight ends in Week 1, largely due to Damien Wilson being mismatched in coverage. If the Jaguars don't want to get picked apart by tight ends this week when the tight end personnel is even more talented than a week ago, they will need their starting linebacker and defensive captain to pick up some of the pass coverage slack, while still staying disciplined against the run.
TE Chris Manhertz
Chris Manhertz only saw one target in Week 1, and there isn't much that suggests it will change. Manhertz only ran four routes against the Texans (one of those was an 18-yard touchdown), while he stayed in to pass block on five snaps, per Sports Info Solutions. The Jaguars will ask Manhertz to contribute as a pass-catcher here and there, but his role as a blocker is just as important, if not more so.
With the Jaguars set to face a Denver defense that can bring a lot of pressure and has two terrific pass-rushers flying off the edge, it would be wise for the Jaguars to more or less pencil Manhertz in as an extra blocker this weekend. He was brought into Jacksonville to do exactly that, after all, but this week it will be even more vital.