UNIFORM WATCH: White tops and white trousers for Sunday.
Back to white on white this week against the Jets. pic.twitter.com/0ymLjHQBNP— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 26, 2018
The 1-2 New York Jets and their fans have truly been riding a roller coaster this year. They started the season with a Sam Darnold pick six only to steady the ship and dismantle the Detroit Lions on the road in front of a national audience, then dropped a close game to an undefeated pod of Dolphins followed by an awful loss to a Browns team that hasn’t won since Christmas Eve of 2016.
When you start any rookie quarterback, let alone the youngest quarterback in NFL history, these are the crests and troughs that you can expect from your offense as he acclimates to life in the NFL. While Darnold has made some mistakes, coaches and fans alike have unbridled enthusiasm in regards to their ginger gunslinger, and his mobility and ability to stay calm under pressure and keep his eyes downfield could give the Jaguars defense fits on Sunday.
Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa has been a target hog and catch crutch for Darnold and his 220+ pound frame is a much better physical match up for Jalen Ramsey this week, while the slightly-built deep threat Robby Anderson will likely be A.J. Bouye’s assignment. Anderson, however, has yet to spark some chemistry with Darnold and the Jets lack a true weapon at the tight end position. Speaking of tight end, we have old faces in new places with former Jaguar Neal Sterling suiting up for New York while Austin Seferian-Jenkins plays the team that chose not to re-sign him this offseason.
The Jets offensive line has been underwhelming as a unit through three games, and left tackle Kelvin Beachum especially has looked shaky while right tackle Brandon Shell has probably been their most consistent performer.
Defensively, this team has been playing extremely well. On the defensive line, new acquisition Henry Anderson has played well as the defensive end opposite Leonard Williams in the Jets 3-4 system and Steve McLendon has been a beast at nose tackle. As for the linebackers, the light seems to have turned on for former first round pick Darron Lee, but this team is in desperate need of an edge rusher, which explains the Dante Fowler Jr. rumors from earlier this offseason.
The secondary is stacked with high-priced free agent Trumaine Johnson and reliable veteran Morris Claiborne at the cornerback spots, but it’s team leader Jamal Adams who is the superstar of the group. Adams was a player the Jaguars were very high on in the 2017 draft and may very well have been the Jaguars pick if Leonard Fournette wasn’t available.
For more information on the Jets, check out Ryan O’Bleness’ crossover piece with Michael Nania of Gang Green Nation.
Good teams don’t lose back-to-back games. Our mayor Calais Campbell has said as much throughout the week and he’s not wrong. Luckily for the Jaguars, the numbers are in our favor, as they are 7-1 in the Doug Marrone era following losses:
2. The Jaguars are 7-1 following losses under HC Doug Marrone. They won their first four games following losses in 2017 by 26 points a game. The Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans, 9-6, Sunday; that was their first loss of the 2018 season. …— John Oehser (@JohnOehser) September 26, 2018
If you remember back to the Jaguars’ heartbreaking 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets last year, one of the major storylines was the saga of Doug Marrone and how he thought he was the shoe-in to get the Jets head coaching gig after opting out of his Buffalo Bills contract only to see the club go in a different direction with Todd Bowles. Now, this storyline has been essentially buried under the surface, and while it may not be personal for Marrone, make no mistake that he wants to beat the Jets badly.
Staying on the topic of old faces in new places, many Jaguars fans pinned the loss last year on a missed Jason Myers field goal, and ironically, Myers will be kicking for the Jets this Sunday. Myers will have no love lost from Jaguars fans, who are absolutely smitten with the man who replaced him in Josh Lambo. The former FC Dallas goalkeeper has connected on his last 16 field goal attempts, but did show up on the injury report on Thursday with hip soreness. All this being said, imagine the misery of everyone in the stadium if Myers somehow nails a game-winning 50 yarder at the end of Sunday’s game? Yikes.
The other storyline surrounding the Jets is their aggressiveness in pursuing players based on reports throughout the last several months. From being in the running in the Khalil Mack sweepstakes, inquiring about our very own Dante Fowler Jr., and most recently being connected with reports about trading for rental running back Le’Veon Bell, it almost reeks of desperation for general manager Mike Maccagnan.
From a coaching perspective, Todd Bowles announced this week that he would be taking over situational play calling duties from defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, which is peculiar this early in the season. When you consider a move such as this in accordance with Maccagnan’s big game hunting in player procurement, it almost smells like they feel like they are on the hot seat and are trying to tread water to keep their jobs. It would be interesting to see if Fowler is brought up again this week when Jets brass are in town and if the Jags front office even entertained offers, but we’ll never know.
Yannick Ngakoue vs. Kelvin Beachum
As mentioned above, Beachum has struggled slightly so far in three games and Ngakoue has the benefit of having gone up against Beachum throughout his entire rookie year in the league. Beachum hasn’t really developed while Ngakoue has added several new arrows to his quiver, so @YannGetSacks91 should, well, get some sacks this week.
Andrew Norwell vs. Leonard Williams
Jurrell Casey had his moments last week, but overall Andrew Norwell did a fairly sound job on him. Unfortunately for Norwell, life doesn’t get much easier this week with Leonard Williams coming to town. Norwell will need to maintain his anchor to neutralize Williams’ bull rush this week and may require some help from Josh Wells, who can spare his attention thanks to the Jets lacking a true stud edge rusher.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Jamal Adams
With a solid cornerback duo in Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne, Bortles will need to test the seam and try to get some targets for ASJ’s revenge game. Sadly, Jamal Adams is familiar with ASJ and his cornerback-like coverage skills could also mitigate impact from the tight end position. Hackett will also need to get creative with pre-snap motion and bust out some DJ Chark jet sweeps to get the ball in his hands and get the Jets defense moving east and west. If you have any Jags wide receivers in fantasy, keep them on your bench this week.
Leonard Fournette (?) vs. Darron Lee
Since throwing the football will be difficult against the Jets seventh-ranked pass defense, the Jaguars will need to churn out the tough yards on the ground. That means we need Leonard Fournette back now more than ever with T.J. Yeldon banged up with an ankle injury. Hackett won’t be able to manufacture a running game with quick screens thanks to the Jets’ speed at linebacker and Darron Lee will need to come up into the box and play tough against Fournette (if available) this week.
Quincy Enunwa vs. Jalen Ramsey/Robby Anderson vs. A.J. Bouye
If the Jaguars are smart, they will stick to more press man coverage on the back end this week and keep Ramsey on Enunwa and Bouye on Anderson throughout the entire game to exploit the size match ups. As much as Darnold has flashed so far this season, he has also shown a proclivity to turn the football over, and that’s one area that this team is waiting for the floodgates to burst open on.
The Jaguars defense has played at a high level so far this year (fourth in yards allowed per game, second in points allowed per game), but they have yet to showcase that smothering defensive performance like the Pittsburgh Steelers game last year. This could very well be that game, and I’m predicting that the defense wins it for them outright to take advantage of a young ambitious quarterback. I see the offense struggling yet again this week, especially if Leonard Fournette can’t suit up, hence the close score.
Jaguars win 24-20