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 9 points against the Houston Texans in Week 3, according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Which area on offense needs to show the most improvement this week?
Dillon Appleman: The red zone execution is easy to point to after that disaster against the Chiefs, but I’m actually going to put the onus on the receivers in this one. Not only does Calvin Ridley need a bounce-back game after last week, but with Zay Jones (knee) unlikely to play, a lot will be asked of guys like Tim Jones and Jamal Agnew.
Caitlin Connor: I think the offensive line needs to show the most improvement. Although execution should have been better in all aspects of the offense last week, the offensive line didn’t help create opportunities to make plays that should have been there. The run game was essentially stopped as soon as the players tried to run.
Mark Dhooge: Third down execution has been the most problematic for the Jaguars offense (3-12 vs. Colts & 3-12 vs. Chiefs). This group is too talented to not be able to extend drives. Look for Doug Pederson and Press Taylor to get more creative to start consistently moving the chains.
Joseph Henry: This offense needs to prove that they can finish drives with consistency. The Jaguars saw success inside the 20-yard line in Week 1 against the Colts, but they got absolutely nothing out of multiple red zone trips during Week 2. Keeping it real, the talent on this team should never fail to score at least one touchdown a game for the rest of the season. Jacksonville needs to get into the endzone again early and often versus Houston. It’s time to shake off whatever held them back against Kansas City and play up to the ability we all know they have.
Travis Holmes: With the Jags facing off versus the Texans, this feels like the perfect week for a rebound game for the red zone execution. If Houston’s O-line struggles continue (five sacks and TWENTY-FIVE pressures surrendered in Week 2), Jacksonville’s defense should again be able to set the offense up with many short fields and scoring opportunities. The offense will have to do a better job sealing the deal in the red zone to avoid this being a tight game versus a lesser opponent.
Gus Logue: Play-calling. The offensive line is Jacksonville’s biggest overall issue, and their execution on late downs and in the red zone must improve -- but the coaches need to put their players in a better spot to succeed starting immediately. I don’t want to see any more cute plays in key situations where there are limited reads. Let Trevor Lawrence cook.
Adam Snowden: Ultimately, red zone execution is most important, because... well, that’s usually how you score points. But in order to improve red zone execution and increase the number of red zone opportunities, Jacksonville’s OL will have to improve its play. With the Chiefs’ DL dominating the trenches last week, most notably headlined by Chris Jones’ whopping 72.7% win rate, Trevor Lawrence was scrambling around for his life. As a result, Lawrence was routinely forced to dump it for short yardage and the offense sputtered. Quite simply, the Jaguars’ “elite offense” (which remains to be seen) can’t shine if the quarterback doesn’t have time to throw.
Henry Zimmer: The offensive line needs to improve and should have a decent opportunity to do so this Sunday. The Texans’ defense is probably the weakest the team has faced so far, so it should be a get-right game for everyone.
Which top-three pick will have a bigger game, C.J. Stroud or Will Anderson?
Dillon: Strictly because of how I expect this game to go for the Jacksonville offense against a depleted Texans defense, I’m going to go with Stroud. He’s been the most impressive rookie QB so far in my opinion, and he’s coming off of a near-400-yard performance against a Colts defense that gave the Jags some trouble.
Caitlin: I think Will Anderson Jr. will have a bigger game. The Jaguars’ defense has been playing top-notch football, so I don’t think Stroud will be able to showcase the passing game he’s had during the first two weeks.
Mark: I think C.J. Stroud has a bigger game. He’s taking care of the football and the Texans are leaning heavily on him to move the ball. Stroud seems to be getting more comfortable as the season progresses which bodes well for the rookie signal caller.
Joseph: Will Anderson is going to show flashes against a Jags offensive line that still needs to get its footing. I think he poses a bigger threat Sunday than Stroud, who I believe will finally start to make some mistakes against Jacksonville. Anderson will pressure Trevor a few times, blow up a run play or two, and make his presence felt. Meanwhile, Stroud will continue his promising start to the season, but toss his first career interception (maybe a couple) to a Jaguars defense that was honestly getting after it against K.C.
Travis: With the state of the Jaguars offensive line, it would be hard to pick against Will Anderson, but I believe the Jaguars coaching staff may have learned a lesson last week versus Chris Jones. I expect them to chip with a TE or RB a lot this week. Meanwhile, I expect the Jags to take an early lead with Stroud putting up a solid statistical game, throwing early and often to catch up. Going with C.J. here.
Gus: I agree with Travis’ point that Will Anderson is likely to be chipped and double-teamed more often than Chris Jones was last week, partly because Jones moves across the formation while Anderson lines up in the same spot. 96% of his snaps this season have come on the left edge (per PFF). That means he’ll be facing rookie right tackle Anton Harrison on almost every rep. Even with extra blocking help, I feel better about Anderson’s chances to impact the game against Harrison than C.J. Stroud’s matchup against Jacksonville’s defense.
Adam: Considering our woeful OL performance these past two weeks, my brain tells me Will Anderson. However, my gut tells me C.J. Stroud. Stroud has looked pretty good these past couple of weeks, and something about the Jags facing a division-rival rookie QB (whom they should dominate) on their home turf makes me a bit uneasy. This seems like the type of trap game that Jacksonville should win by multiple scores but ends up being closer than expected. Fortunately, neither rookie frightens me even half as much as Chris Jones.
Henry: Will Anderson will likely have the bigger game, earning a half sack and a tackle for loss or two. Hopefully it will be late in the game in garbage time.
Final score prediction?
Dillon: Jaguars 37, Texans 20
Caitlin: Jaguars 24, Texans 10
Mark: Jaguars 27, Texans 13
Joseph: Jaguars 27, Texans 13
Travis: Jaguars 34, Texans 17
Gus: Jaguars 40, Texans 10
Adam: Jaguars 34, Texans 24
Henry: Jaguars 34, Texans 14
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 3 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!