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Jaguars vs. Commanders: Key to the game

Carson Wentz will be facing the Jaguars in a regular season game for the second straight time ... but playing for a different team.

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Carson Wentz will be facing the Jacksonville Jaguars in a regular season game for the second straight time.

The former second-overall pick was quarterbacking the Indianapolis Colts in the last matchup, when Wentz took six sacks and lost two turnovers in a 26-11 Week 18 loss to the Jaguars.

Josh Allen and Roy Robertson-Harris led Jacksonville up front with three quarterback pressures apiece in that 2021 season finale. In the following months, Jaguars brass added Travon Walker, Arden Key, Devin Lloyd, and Foye Oluokun to its group of (*Brad Pitt impression*) quarterback hunters. That unit also also includes underrated veteran Dawaune Smoot and 2020 first rounder K’Lavon Chaisson.

These players will be utilized all over the front of the formation on passing downs in new defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell’s scheme. Their first chance to reclaim the Sacksonville nickname comes against Wentz and his new team, the Washington Commanders, in Week 1 of the 2022 season on Sunday.

Washington ranked fourth in PFF‘s pass block grade and ninth in ESPN‘s pass block win rate last season. However, the Commanders allowed the 10th-most sacks in the league because Tyler Heinicke was their starter and sacks are a quarterback stat (also see: Brady, Tom).

Fortunately for Jacksonville, Wentz is one of the most pressure-sensitive quarterbacks in the league and will be playing behind a downgraded offensive line; the Jaguars signed longtime Commanders guard and five-time Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff in free agency last spring.

Washington did add two new dependable starters in free agency in Trai Turner and former Jaguar Andrew Norwell. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator Scott Turner, and offensive line coach John Matsko all coached Norwell and Turner with the Carolina Panthers a few seasons ago.

If Norwell and the rest of Washington’s O-line can keep Wentz clean, it’ll be up to Jacksonville’s secondary to slow down Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson downfield. But their jobs won’t be hard if the pass rushing unit up front is able to get home thanks to fresh talent and coaching in Duval.

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