The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Carolina Panthers this afternoon, but they’ll be without their franchise quarterback. For the first time in his career in Duval County, Trevor Lawrence will not be active, as he nurses a shoulder injury he suffered against Tampa Bay a week ago.
In his stead will be longtime backup, C.J. Beathard. Although this will be his first start as a member of the Jaguars, Beathard is far from inexperienced. Before landing in Jacksonville as a free agent back in 2021, Beathard spent four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers where he started 12 games.
Even so, what was supposed to be a golden opportunity for a get right game against the worst team in the National Football League has now become much tougher to predict due to Lawrence’s injury.
Without Trevor, Jacksonville will need some big-time performances from players in all three phases of the game. Lets highlight three X-factors that could help get the Jags in the win column.
C.J. Beathard gets a default place on the X-factors list this week due to the unknown of what he will do when given a full week’s worth of practice as the starter.
C.J. Beathard has taken over for the Jags at QB. pic.twitter.com/bWHoqTk0Zt— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) December 24, 2023
As I said before, Beathard is a veteran quarterback that has plenty of experience starting at this level. However, he is just 2 and 10 in his career in those starts so it’s tough to project whether he can go win won if this one goes to the wire.
That’s why his X-factor designation is contingent upon his ability to simply play within structure while not making any mistakes whatsoever.
As long as he can do that, I believe it will be enough to get the Jags their first win since November. Of course, it will only help the cause of the next two X-factors show up as well.
The Jacksonville offense has struggled to put up points over the last couple of weeks, and Lawrence’s absence won’t make it any easier.
However, one way to help out an offensive unit looking to find its rhythm is by giving them a short field to work with. That’s why Jamal Agnew could prove to be a major X-factor in this one.
Agnew has been one of the best return men in the NFL for years and is still making his presence felt today. The two-time Pro Bowler is one of just four players across the league that is averaging over 26 yards per kick return, as well as over 10 yards per punt return.
If Jacksonville is going to put an end to this losing streak, sans their franchise quarterback, Jamal Agnew’s ability to flip the field could be the key.
Carolina Panthers rookie QB Bryce Young has been sacked more times than every other quarterback in the NFL (53) not named Sam Howell (60).
In Young’s 14 starts up to this point, the former Heisman winner has been sacked at least three times in 11 of them. On the flip side, Jacksonville’s defense has only accomplished that feat five times through the first 16 weeks.
That said, this could be just the recipe Jacksonville’s 28th ranked pass rush needs to finally find sacks in bunches.
Jaguars EDGE pressure and win-rate rankings (per PFF) among 123 players with at least 100 rushes through Week 16.— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) December 26, 2023
Josh Allen: 4th in pressures, 6th in win-rate
Travon Walker: 23rd in pressures, 81st in win-rate
K'Lavon Chaisson: 102nd in pressures, 99th in win-rate
I expect Josh Allen and Travon Walker to be in the backfield quite a bit in this one, but the key will be if they can keep Young inside the pocket to prevent any extended plays. As long as they do that, their impact will show up in a big way today.