The Jacksonville Jaguars have digested their Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans are moving forward, now focusing their attention on the Denver Broncos and the challenge they pose in Week 2.
But what exact challenges are those? Just what will the Jaguars have to prepare for ahead of their home opener? We break down the biggest questions facing the Jaguars and Urban Meyer's team entering a pivotal game for the 0-1 squad.
Can Urban Meyer and his staff rebound?
It could be just as fair to question how the Jaguars are going to slow down Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, but instead we are going to look to Urban Meyer and his staff. After one week, the Jaguars' have more issues in terms of how they actually prepare for a game than anything else. Both sides of the ball looked sloppy, unprepared and out of sync against Houston, which is a direct reflection of the coaching staff.
Can Meyer and his staff show a different level of preparation in Week 2? The Jaguars failed to show up against Houston in large part because they looked like a team that was playing its fourth preseason game as opposed to Week 1. Whether Meyer can quickly get his team more disciplined and operation cleaner will be key to determining whether the Jaguars win at home against a good Broncos team.
How does the Jaguars' defense improve at finishing plays?
The biggest problem with the Jaguars' defense against the Houston Texans wasn't that the defense looked completely overmatched. Instead, the Jaguars looked like they belonged on the field and even had spurts of strong play, such as the opening three-and-out. What was the problem with the Jaguars' defense against Tyrod Taylor and the Houston Texans, however, was the Jaguars' inability to finish plays they should have made.
Just look at each of the big completions to Brandin Cooks, two passes that 9 out of 10 times fall incomplete or end in a sack. Rayshawn Jenkins was inches away from intercepting the first completion while K'Lavon Chaisson had two chances to sack Taylor on the second. Add in other plays where the Jaguars dropped picks or lost at the catch point, or even lost contain of Taylor, and there were plenty of plays where the Jaguars were close, but not close enough. To get a win against the Broncos, the Jaguars will need to do a better job of bringing Teddy Bridgewater to the ground. The Jaguars will also have to do a better job of winning at the catch point, even against a banged-up Denver offense.
Can Tyson Campbell slow down K.J. Hamler?
Tyson Campbell certainly had his struggles in his NFL debut, but a good portion of those struggles can be chalked up to the fact that he was put in a position to lose. Campbell is a long and physical cover corner, but he doesn't have the agility or quickness to cover a prototypical slot receiver like Danny Amendola. Unfortunately for Campbell, the matchup gets only more difficult this week with Broncos' receiver and second-year second-round pick K.J. Hamler.
Hamler didn't put up eye-popping numbers against the Giants (three catches for 41 yards) but he was frequently open thanks to his top-notch athletchism. If not for a drop, the shifty and athletic Hamler would have caught a deep Bridgewater bomb for a touchdown, as well. Hamler offers a lot of mismatch problems for a cornerback like Campbell, leading to this being a key matchup entering Week 2.
Do the Jaguars lean on James Robinson more?
James Robinson just hasn't been leaned on by this new Jaguars' staff yet. For A part of that had to do with the Jaguars adding two new running backs this offseason in Travis Etienne and Carlos Hyde, while a bigger part of it in Week 1 was the simple fact that the Jaguars weren't in a position to run the ball. They were either trailing by multiple scores or behind the sticks due to penalties, leading to over 50 dropbacks and only five official carries for Robinson.
Does this change for Robinson against the Broncos? He dominated the Jaguars' snaps at running back, playing 22 more snaps than Hyde. But even with Robinson on the field more, Hyde still outpaced him in touches, getting 11 touches (nine carries, two receptions) to Robinson's eight (five carries, three receptions). Can the Jaguars reverse that trend against a Broncos' defensive front that is even better than the one they just faced? Establishing Robinson and the running game early will be key.
Can Trevor Lawrence cut down the rookie mistakes?
Trevor Lawrence had some fantastic flashes during his NFL debut. His ability to fit passes into tight windows downfield is something the Jaguars haven't seen at quarterback in a number of years. But Lawrence also had his fair share of rookie mistakes, including his three interceptions (each of which was more of a bad decision than a bad throw), a number of inaccurate passes from clean pockets, and an unwillingness to hit his checkdowns. Lawrence showed a ton of talent, but he also helped remind people that he is still a rookie quarterback.
The question now is whether Lawrence can elevate his performance while also cutting down on mistakes as he prepares for Vic Fangio's defense. Fangio has had success against rookie quarterbacks in the past (even if a rookie Gardner Minshew beat Denver on the road in 2019), so the challenge won't be any easier. In fact, Lawrence has more on his plate this week than he did at any point in Week 1. But for the Jaguars to get their first win of 2021, they simply can't afford their franchise quarterback to commit game-changing turnovers again.