It’s going to be a tough one for the Jaguars on Sunday who are traveling out west to face off against the Los Angeles Rams. While, certainly, the Rams pose a threat on the offensive side of the football due to the gluttony of weapons at their disposal, their defensive talent is that much better.
Specifically, the impact will be felt along the Jaguars’ offensive line facing off against the Rams’ defensive line, led by perhaps the best player in the NFL, defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
On Wednesday, Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer made reference to the Rams defensive front, noting that it will be the “toughest challenge” the team will have had to face off against thus far this season.
Thus far this year, the Jaguars offensive line has gone up against some formidable defensive lines, including the Denver Broncos (Von Miller, Bradley Chubb), Arizona Cardinals (Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt), Tennessee Titans (Harold Landry, Jeffery Simmons), Buffalo Bills (Ed Oliver, Jerry Hughes) and most recently, the San Francisco 49ers (Nick Bosa).
While the team had plenty of success at protecting Lawrence, at least against the majority of these teams, they’ll face the most challenging opponent this week.
“This is it,” Meyer said on Wednesday. “I thought the Cardinals were also. We had great respect obviously when [Rams OLB] Von Miller was with the Broncos and the Titans, I can list them all, but this is the best one.”
The Jaguars head coach called Donald the “best” he’s ever seen, which is a credit to the defensive tackle’s play throughout the years. At 285 pounds he plays more like he’s 330 pounds, a force that no opposing offensive lineman wants to go against alone.
Thus far this season, Donald has accounted for six sacks, 51 combined tackles, 15 quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss. He’s accounted for 91.5 sacks throughout his career with the Rams and has been voted to the Pro Bowl every season, and has six First-Team All-Pro honors.
He’s a future Hall of Fame player and is presently in the prime of his career, not slowing down at all.
While Donald is certainly a force, the Rams also field two of the best EDGE rushers in the NFL in Miller (previously on the Broncos) and Leonard Floyd. Floyd currently has 7.5 sacks this season, while Miller of course is another future HOF player in his own right.
This year, the Jaguars' offensive line has had some ups and downs but has been able to hold their own against some tuff competition. With the help of rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, who has shown a great propensity to avoid sacks.
Thus far this year, he’s been sacked just 20 times, tied for the fourth-best mark in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.
For Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, though, this will be one of the toughest, perhaps the toughest matchup the line has faced this season.
“When you throw any of those names out everyone knows them,” Bevell said of the Rams. “You can continue to go through their depth and even their backups that come in are doing a good job. I would say as far as personnel and the battles we are going to face, probably the best that we have faced up to this point.”
Well, this is it, and the Jaguars will have to try to step up to the challenge in order to build on its offense moving forward.