This is a game that some of us saw as a slam dunk when the news of Drew Brees going down with a thumb injury, but steady Teddy Bridgewater has kept the ship afloat to a perfect record and has looked like a competent starter in spot duty for New Orleans.
Here are my Week 6 matchups to watch:
QB Gardner Minshew II vs. LB Demario Davis
So check it out. I usually match the quarterback up against a ball-hawking safety when I do these, but there’s a pretty cool story line between Gardner Minshew and Demario Davis:
Saints linebacker Demario Davis says he’s a huge fan of Jaguars quarterback and fellow Brandon, Mississippi, native Gardner Minshew.— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) October 10, 2019
The two will share the field when Jacksonville hosts New Orleans.
More from @APMarkLong >> https://t.co/FhYgHAOVMn pic.twitter.com/YfhnZbdSFX
Both players starred at Brandon High School in Mississippi and Davis is a self-proclaimed Minshewvian, with a t-shirt of a jock-strapped sex symbol riding a Jaguar even hanging in in the locker room behind him. Hopefully this means Davis is very nice to Gardner and will allow him to do to the Saints this week what he did against the top passing defense in the NFL last week. In all seriousness though, the Saints defense has improved greatly and this will be a great test for Minshew. I expect this to be the game where John DeFilippo stresses the middle of the field with Dede Westbrook, a heavy dose of Chris Conley, and maybe a splattering of Marqise Lee? Notice there’s one WR name missing, which leads me to...
WR D.J. Chark vs. CB Marshon Lattimore
I hope TIAA Bank Field can erupt with a symphonic rendition of “Baby Chark” this week after D.J. (again) finds the end zone, but this might be the game where he comes back down to Earth a little bit. Now firmly on defensive coordinators’ radars, I expect Marshon Lattimore to follow Chark around everywhere he goes, and while I think Chark is still talented enough to win the match up if the ball is on-time and well-placed, it’s going to be no picnic. Lattimore’s last two weeks consisted of holding Amari Cooper to one catch for five yards and then goose-egging Mike Evans on three targets last week.
But fear not, friends! Just as beneficial as it is to have a shut down cornerback to take away half the field and the team’s WR1 (he-who-must-not-be-named for JAX), it’s equally beneficial to have the same on the opposite side of the ball to remove the opposing team’s CB1 (in this case, Lattimore).
As mentioned above, the attention on Chark should open up avenues for the rest of the Jags pass catchers, and that’s how Flip’s offense under Minshew operates anyway.
OG Andrew Norwell vs. DT Sheldon Rankins
Sheldon Rankins has recently returned from injury and is still getting his legs underneath him, but he’s a twitchy three-technique who can wreak havoc for the heavy-footed Andrew Norwell. Norwell’s limited athletic ability and lateral quickness has been alarming for me ever since watching him run through bag drills in minicamp, and I thought “well, at least he’s a strong guy who won’t get pushed backwards.”
Boy, was that far from the truth, too!
There have been a lot of Andrew Norwell apologists in the media, but my evaluation watching the tape this year is that he’s in the bottom 30% of guards in the league earning in the top 5% at the position. If I was the Saints, I would stacks rips on top of bull rushes from the defensive tackles and then challenge him with plenty of stunts by Marcus Davenport, who is playing much better this year and should give Norwell fits when trying to mirror.
OT Jawaan Taylor vs. DE Cameron Jordan
Taylor has gone through his growing pains as a second round rookie, but think of the experience he’s gotten so far this year: Frank Clark, J.J. Watt, Cam Wake, Von Miller/Bradley Chubb, Brian Burns. If this was a video game, thats a lot of XP points for Taylor, and he’s only getting better each week. Cameron Jordan will be another impressive player to add to his resume, and the best way to wear him out is a heavy dose of Leonard Fournette in the running and quick screen game.
DE Yannick Ngakoue vs. OT Terron Armstead
Yann is waking up, and he’s waking up at the right time. It seems like he’s working through his hamstring injury, and just as I predicted in last week’s match ups article, the sack seal was broken last week for Ngakoue with two take downs against Carolina. The only difference is Terron Armstead is one of the best in the league at his position, and I’m not sure if Josh Allen’s bulk and power isn’t a better match up for the Jaguars this week specifically. Nevertheless, I hope Ngakoue can get to Bridgewater with a strip sack this week, but Bridgewater’s urgency to check it down will probably make that difficult, especially consider the very talented Ryan Ramczyk on the other book end against Calais Campbell. It’s a good offensive line, folks, so expect Sacksonville to be on ice for one more week.
LB Myles Jack/LB Quincy Williams vs. RB Alvin Kamara
For fun, let's all watch Alvin Kamara's insane balance workout: https://t.co/meR0RNxjuL— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) September 10, 2019
The plastic things in this video are Myles Jack and Quincy Williams. That’s it. That’s the analysis.
CB A.J. Bouye vs. WR Michael Thomas
Bouye got toasted badly deep on the sidelines last week, but he was probably just as confused and surprised when the Panthers sent D.J. Moore on a route that wasn’t a slant as I was. This is Bouye’s secondary now, and this is the type of game he should relish to prove he can be a #1 CB in the NFL. Due to extracurricular circumstances, Bouye, who was a likely cap casualty or re-structure candidate in this coming offseason due to salary, now has the opportunity to stick around as the team’s veteran cornerback for the foreseeable future. But he still has to earn that opportunity with his play, and there’s no better opportunity to do that than against arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL right now.
S Ronnie Harrison vs. QB Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater has managed Sean Payton’s offense admirably in the absence of Drew Brees, but Brees he is not. For all the concerns about Minshew’s arm strength - just watch Bridgewater distribute the football. The ball tends to flutter on passes over 20 yards, so there’s definitely time for Ronnie Harrison (or Jarrad Wilson) to suffocate some space and get their hands on the football, especially if the pass rush can push the pocket a little bit and get Teddy uncomfortable and off platform.
As I’ve said, the lack of turnovers for this defense is deplorable and that has been a huge theme for Doug Marrone when speaking to the media this week, so hopefully they ratchet it up this week.