Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff previews each Jacksonville Jaguars game and makes picks for each NFL game. The Jaguars are favored by 7 points against the Tennessee Titans in Week 11, according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
There’s no one reason for Jacksonville’s struggles on offense this season — but what do you see as the biggest issue?
Caitlin Connor: I’m unsure if it’s the biggest issue, but better protection with the offensive line would open more opportunities. Trevor would have more time in the pocket, and it would create openings for the run game, especially in short-yardage situations.
Justin Cross: I bounced around on this, but I think it starts and ends with coaching. The offense has looked smooth at times, but let’s be real, the bar isn’t low because the talent level is high. This is a team that’s lived on the horizontal passing game, has turned the ball over consistently, and tends to get cute when it doesn’t seem necessary (sometimes leading to turnovers in the red zone). A lot of the stats back this up: They are fifth in total giveaways (17), second in fumbles (11), 29th in terms of scoring in the red zone (43.5%), and Trevor is ranked 18th in yards per pass attempt (7.1).
Joseph Henry: The offense needs to take more shots downfield. Pushing the ball deep is essential to keeping an offense balanced, but the Jaguars rarely look for the big play. Even if these passes aren’t completed, they keep defenses guessing and have a high potential for drawing penalties. There are plenty of reasons this area of Jacksonville’s game is basically nonexistent at the moment — poor O-line play and Zay Jones’ absence the biggest — but it also feels as if there is no effort to incorporate it into the game plan.
Travis Holmes: The loss of Zay Jones has truly crippled the 2023 Jaguars offense to date. The apparent inability of the other active receivers to secure contested catches or consistently gain separation against press coverage has become an obvious offensive limitation within the static way that Press Taylor/Doug have decided to scheme up the offense this offseason. With an understanding that the player’s skillsets aren’t changing anytime soon, it will be interesting to see if this is the week the coaches finally start to use motions, bunch sets, something to help the receivers open up the field vertically.
Gus Logue: The offensive line is leaving zero margin for error. Trevor Lawrence is throwing the ball or getting pressured in 2.1 seconds on average -- that’s tied with 2020 Ben Roethlisberger for the shortest ‘pocket time’ of any player in Pro Football Reference’s database (since 2018). And Travis Etienne has been stuffed on 22% of his rushes this season, the 7th-highest rate of 47 qualifying running backs per Sports Info Solutions.
Henry Zimmer: I think lacking Zay Jones is really hindering this offense. In his place, the team has used gadget returner Jamal Agnew and special teamer Tim Jones. I don’t think it’s a far cry to say that savvy defensive coordinators can live without expending too many defensive resources on those two. In turn, defenses can double guys like Calvin Ridley or Christian Kirk more consistently. Without the viable receiving threat that someone like Jones provides, the offense has become more one-dimensional. No, Jones is not the sole answer the team has struggled. But since he has gone down, the team clearly has missed his impact. A traditional receiver needs to step up in his place, with all due respect given to Agnew and Jones.
Obviously the offensive line must improve, but what other position group needs to step it up the most this week against the Titans?
Justin: Trevor. Part of me wanted to go wide receiver, but I think there were enough examples from the last game where Trevor looked frazzled, missed reads, and stepped into sacks. So far, he’s been a middle-tier quarterback in 2023. In his own words, this past week was one of the worst games of his career. For the team, I hope the San Francisco game was the Detroit game from last season that led to six straight wins against several really good teams. For Trevor, I hope the San Francisco game was the Denver game from last season that led to him being one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the second half of 2022.
Joseph: The defensive backs are a banged-up group right now and will need to tighten up this week. I don’t think the unit needs to be afraid of what Titans quarterback Will Levis can do, but more so how they call their offense. We saw in Levis’ first action this season that Tennessee wasn’t shy about letting him rip the long ball. I think they stay aggressive with their rookie QB on Sunday.
Travis: I’m going to go outside of the box on this one and say special teams. The Titans are a team that simply plays Jacksonville tough, pretty religiously. I expect a needed big game from BigManus and truly think this game may come down to a special teams gaffe or swing.
Gus: Jacksonville’s linebackers had a tough day against Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers. They need to bounce back this week to make sure Derrick Henry doesn't get the chance to take over.
Henry: The defensive line needs to play well again. While the numbers may not reflect it, the defensive line did alright against the 49ers. The Titans’ line is a step down from San Fran’s unit, so if the defensive line plays at least decently, this should be a very winnable game. The line is also protecting a rookie quarterback with limited experience, so being able to flush him out or rattle him early will be big in also generating turnovers, something the Jags have lived and died on this season.
Final score prediction?
Caitlin: Jaguars 28, Titans 10
Justin: Jaguars 27, Titans 14
Joseph: Jaguars 23, Titans 17
Travis: Jaguars 13, Titans 10
Gus: Jaguars 26, Titans 16
Henry: Jaguars 24, Titans 11
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 11 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!