The first Jacksonville Jaguars game of the 2021 season is on the horizon. The preseason was a bit of a mixed bag, but it did provide a lot of excitement, especially in the third game against the Dallas Cowboys where fans saw first overall pick Trevor Lawrence pop off and throw for two touchdowns and just a single incompletion.
The big question is, what is it that you want to see from the Jaguars in Week 1?
I want to see the Jaguars offense have some kind of identity. There was some shuffling on the offensive line during the preseason, but the offense itself is was kind of bland and vanilla, which is to be expected in the preseason to be honest. I’d like to see the Jaguars offense show what they’re going to be about this season, which I would presume is leaning on James Robinson and the play-action passing game. It’s possible that was limited in the preseason due to the absence of D.J. Chark for his deep receiving ability, but shots down the field were missing in the preseason for sure for the first team offense.
The Jaguars are heading into a Week 1 matchup against the Texans that will certainly test its abilities early on. While the Texans are not some juggernaut of a franchise — the team finished as one of the worst teams in the NFL last season at 4-12 — they’ll act as a baseline for the Jaguars moving forward.
With its upgraded roster, Jacksonville should be able to defeat the Texans handily, especially if the first-overall pick, quarterback Trevor Lawrence is as advertised. What I would like to see out of Jacksonville this weekend is sound execution, which is for them to operate well on a drive-to-drive basis.
With DJ Chark Jr. returning, and the addition of Tyron Johnson, the Jaguars should have speed on the outside, something head coach Urban Meyer says is necessary for the team to operate soundly on offense. We haven’t seen the full clip of a Jaguars offense, and Week 1 is the best opportunity for just that.
At the risk of sounding cliche, I want to see a win. How they do that is anyone’s guess — as Alfie said, this team really went full preseason with its approach on offense and how that side of the ball will actually start off and evolve through the year is a bit of a mystery. But this is a Texans team that, frankly, just isn’t any good. And with Tyrod Taylor shuffling in at quarterback, it’s gone from “meh” to “yuck”. Brandin Cooks is Houston’s only real threat from a skill position standpoint. The offense will be key to any victories the team has and with Trevor Lawrence finally getting a full game worth of snaps, DJ Chark, Jr. back in action, and James Robinson cemented as this team’s RB1, this offense should start to build some consistency.
The biggest thing for me is ball security. Turnovers are often the difference in a game, and there will surely be growing pains in the opening game of the season, but protecting the football and sustaining drives will go a long way toward winning against a team the Jaguars could certainly defeat. And to be frank, I don’t know how many opportunities for wins the Jaguars will have this season, but this game is certainly one of them.
The other things I want to see include execution and a solid game plan from the coaching staff on both offense and defense (I am hoping the offense looks like a lot more like it did in the preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys as opposed to how it looked in the first two preseason games). Offensively, pass protection is going to be another thing to watch for. The offensive line must protect Trevor Lawrence at all costs. Defensively, I want to see improvement in stopping the run, and I don’t want to see a lot of big plays given up in the passing game, as we saw somewhat throughout the preseason. A win would be preferred, but at the very least, I want to see this team make noticeable improvements compared to last season and the preseason.
I’m going to be looking at the trenches on both sides of the ball. The Texans offensive line will be missing their right tackle Marcus Cannon, and Charlie Heck also contracted COVID-19, but he is vaccinated so he could come back and start. I want to see a noticeably bigger and more physical Jaguars defensive line establish the intensity from the start of the game. The run defense looked terrific in the preseason, but on third down they have to get off the field. That comes down to the pass rushers such as Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson getting home on blitzes.
Along the offensive line, I want to see Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor’s improvement from last season. Offensive Line Coach George Warhop has spoken extensively about their improvement, and against a team where they have the talent advantage, I want to see the offensive line get after it immediately. Opening holes in the run game and keeping Trevor Lawrence upright will completely unlock the entire offense’s potential.