Is there such thing as a trap game for a team going 2-0 with their unheralded young quarterback?
No, I’m not talking about the Jacksonville Jaguars and Gardner Minshew II. I’m talking about Kyle Allen and the Carolina Panthers, who make their first trip home after consecutive wins on the road in what is feasibly the post-Cam Newton era. Their trip home will be more of a sojourn, though, as they could be looking ahead to Week 6 where they will be making the long voyage to London to play a hot division rival in the Tampa Bay Bucs at Tottenham Stadium. With the Jaguars coming in as the underdog on betting lines this week, I know who I have my money on.
But I digress. Here are my Week 5 matchups to watch:
QB Gardner Minshew II vs. S Eric Reid/S Tre Boston
I spotlighted Reid’s brother, Justin, before the Houston Texans game in Week 2 and the younger brother ended up making the crucial game winning tackle on the Leonard Fournette two point conversion attempt. The elder Reid was a man possessed last week in the Reid Bowl against the Texans last week, but did pick up a pretty legit knock on his ankle that he gritted through to deliver the Panthers a W. Reid has been a DNP on Wednesday and Thursday this week, but even if he doesn’t play, the ‘stached sensation will need to keep an eye out for Tre Boston, who simply seems to have a knack for finding the football.
But you know who has a knack for not turning the football over? Gardner Freaking Minshew, Second Of His Name.
QB @GardnerMinshew5 has been named @NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for his performance in September:— Tad Dickman (@TDickman89) October 3, 2019
• NFL’s highest passer rating (123.9) in the red zone (min. 10 RZ pass attempts)
• only player this season w/ 200+ passing yards & 95.0+ passer rating in all four games. pic.twitter.com/OpXLhxYxos
RB Leonard Fournette vs. LB Luke Kuechly/LB Shaq Thompson
I have to eat some crow here because I have been especially critical of Leonard Fournette, but he looked like a different player last week in Denver. On second thought, he actually looked like the same player - but the one we saw running through a m’fers face at LSU. It’s one thing to run for 200+ yards on a team with no adequate nose tackle and Josey Jewell/Todd Davis at linebacker, but a Dontari Poe/Luke Kuechly/Shaq Thompson trinity is, uh, a little more of a challenge in this Panthers’ new 3-4 defense.
With that being said, I still feel like Fournette rides the momentum of last week and flirts with 100 yards on the ground as he looks to prove that he is just as talented as his colleague Christian McCaffrey, who was picked a few slots after him in the same draft class.
WR D.J. Chark vs. CB Donte Jackson
Track meet! We have what could be two of the fastest players in the NFL squaring off in a one-on-one matchup this week, and this is where my eyes are going to be focused on the most while we are on offense.
I give Chark the slight advantage here, however, as Jackson has been hampered by a groin injury which could affect his initial acceleration and long range speed after being a Wednesday/Thursday DNP. If Jackson can’t go on Sunday, Chark is looking at Javien Elliott, which is a matchup I would test early and often if I were John DeFilippo. Other great position group matchups include a physical bout between Chris Conley and James Bradberry and a dogfight in the slot between Dede Westbrook and Ross Cockrell. And if he’s healthy? Josh Oliver might be a seam stretching X Factor in his debut.
OT Cam Robinson/OT Jawaan Taylor vs. LB Mario Addison/LB Brian Burns
Burns has been the sexy rookie rusher that everyone is talking about, but it’s actually Mario Addison who is the one that’s racking up the stats for the Panthers. Currently third in the NFL with 5.5 sacks. Addison wins with speed/speed to power conversion, which gave Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor fits last week going against Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Taylor is going to continue to get better every week, and once the Jaguars finally settle on a RG (cough, Will Richardson) next to him, I expect his play to elevate even more. Robinson should be getting more into football shape each passing week, but it’s his emotions and awareness that worry me. Not only were Cam’s late game antics at the end of the Denver game troubling, but his constant false starts and aggression penalties are out of control and it’s easy for opposing coordinators to see he has a short fuse to get under his skin.
And another thing — why did Brian Burns win Defensive Rookie of the Month over Josh Allen? Allen has more tackles, TFLs, a forced fumble, and would have had another sack if the very nasty NFL didn’t take away his “sack” on Deshaun Watson in Week 2. Sad!
DE Yannick Ngakoue vs. OT Greg Little
Little has taken over as the full time left tackle, but he has been a DNP in concussion protocol this week and is a question mark for Sunday. Ngakoue has also been hampered with a hamstring this year and has been half a step slow to getting to the quarterback in 2019. That all could change this week, as we are overdue for one of Yannick’s patented strip sacks against a quarterback who has fumbled five times the last two weeks. He’s getting close, and I feel like this is the week he bursts the sack seal.
You can always count on one thing when studying the Jaguars DL: Yannick Ngakoue is giving 110% pic.twitter.com/AjpdKdNxxI— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 3, 2019
LB Myles Jack vs. RB Christian McCaffrey
This. This is the matchup that gives me nightmares. All in all, I really think the matchups for this game weigh in the Jaguars’ favor... until you get to Christian McCaffrey, who is good enough to win a game by himself. McCaffrey is so dangerous and could be deployed in so many ways that it’s going to be such a burden on the Jaguars defense to keep Dairy Sanders contained. I have been particularly impressed with Jack this year and feel he needs to elevate his game to earn the big contract he just signed. Keeping McCaffrey in tow would be a good start, as McCaffrey leads the NFL in rushing with 411 yards in four games.
LB Quincy Williams vs. TE Greg Olsen
Olsen seems ageless this year and has been an enormous security blanket for his undrafted young quarterback, but let’s not pretend that he’s not running a 4.80+ forty yard dash at the ripe age of 34. In terms of pure physical attributes, the ubiquitous Quincy Williams should be able to run circles around Olsen when tasked of manning up with him in coverage, but it’s Olsen’s veteran savvy and route running that could get the better of the young rookie. Williams has had a promising start to his pro career landing on Daniel Jeremiah’s top rookies list and Dane Brugler’s All-Rookie Team this week and should continue to develop as an above average starter if the X’s and O’s can catch up to his gifted physical assets. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jaguars’ game plan would be to have Williams help with Jack on McCaffrey and have Jarrod Wilson/Ronnie Harrison pick up the tight end this week.
S Ronnie Harrison vs. QB Kyle Allen
Harrison broke the seal on interceptions with his momentum-changing pick last week before halftime and you can see his confidence as a playmaker in the secondary growing. As big of a play as that was, for this defense to only have two turnovers through the first four weeks of football is reprehensible. This is a team that has invested the eighth-most dollars on defense in the NFL, and that includes Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, and Jalen Ramsey still on rookie deals, so the fact that the Jaguars are -1 in turnover differential with a rookie quarterback with only one interception is deplorable. However, as mentioned above, Kyle Allen has been a fumbling machine in his first two starts, so hopefully they will come in bunches and those bunches start in Charlotte this week.
Bold City Brigade vs. Roaring Riot
#DuvalOnTour continues after an awesome showing in Denver last week. If you’re on the fence about going to the game in Charlotte this week, make sure you come join the party by clicking here. Bold City Brigade will be doing a get-together with Roaring Riot at Slate Charlotte on Saturday from 6pm-10pm, so come join the festivities and show our fellow feline brethren how Duval does it. I will be there and make sure you come say hello!