Ah yes, Week 2 of the NFL Preseason. Should be filled with rational analysis and general camaraderie between NFL fanbase—looks at Jaguars vs. Saints Twitter—oh. Well anyways, the Jaguars travel to New Orleans to face the Saints tonight in a special preseason edition of Monday Night Football. A primetime game is rare to find these days for the Jaguars, so a good showing in front of a national audience should quell some of the remarks about Urban Meyer’s tenure in Duval being a failure. Here are some keys to the game as the Jaguars face the Saints:
- Tempo, Tempo, Tempo
Meyer lamented about the pace of play in the Jaguars’ Week One loss to the Cleveland Browns, and most of that could be due to a very, very, vanilla offense. Well now we’re in Week Two, this is the time where most franchises start showing their hands a bit more, and the starters will normally play more snaps. Expect for the Jaguars to pick up the pace on offense and start to operate in a more up-tempo manner.
- Turnover Creation on Defense
To say the Saints had a turnover problem in Week One against the Browns would be a massive understatement. The Saints turned the ball over six times, three interceptions and three lost fumbles. Now, this could just be a symptom of the first action for players since December/January, but for Jacksonville, this is a prime opportunity to create turnovers. If Jacksonville is going to play the Baltimore style of defense (which is like 99.9999% likely), they have to get off the field via third down stops or turnovers. Last year, the Jaguars defense finished 27th in the NFL in takeaways, and in order for them to take the next step as a defense, turnover creation is key. We’ll get to see that firsthand playing Jameis Winston and New Orleans.
- GET TREVOR LAWRENCE MORE REPS
I know, I know, Urban. “This is a QB competition,” “Gardner Minshew won’t give up easily,” we understand that. However, Trevor Lawrence looked like the better QB since training camp began, and when he’s named the starter for Week One against Houston, he’ll need all the reps he can get versus NFL speed. Week Two is when all the starters usually play a lot more, so Lawrence will be able to see a somewhat formidable Saints defense. Getting him the reps behind the first team offensive line and with the first team receivers is important for his development. So please, give Lawrence a lot of reps this week.
- Battle in the Trenches
Both the offensive and defensive fronts will be challenged tonight. Assuming New Orleans plays their starters, the Jaguars offensive line will be tasked with blocking Cameron Jordan and David Onyemata, a formidable defensive line duo. There’s also star MIKE linebacker Demario Davis to handle. As much as their pass protection left things to be desired, the Jacksonville work in the run game was great, especially from AJ Cann and Cam Robinson. The Jaguars run defense was also spectacular in Week One, but they’ll be going up against one of the best OL units in the NFL in New Orleans. Assuming they all play, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are arguably the best tackle duo in the league, and their interior offensive line is also very good. If the Jaguars run defense has improved as much as we think it has, it’ll show in a major early test.
- Getting the Young DB’s Reps with the First Team
This final point feels more like circumstance than anything, due to how young this group is. However, the young Jaguars DB’s stood out in a good way against Cleveland. You could argue that second-year cornerback CJ Henderson was the best defensive player for the night, and rookie safety Andre Cisco wasn’t far behind him. Tyson Campbell got lost on a TD late in the first half, but other than that flashed the athleticism and competitiveness that the Jaguars loved. In order to speed up their development, they should get some more reps with the first team, especially Henderson and Cisco. If they continue their development, then the Jaguars back end should be one of the better young groups in the league.
The game will begin at 8 pm EST and will be aired on ESPN.