On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars will make their home debut against the Denver Broncos at 1 p.m. at TIAA Bank Field in week two. Sunday will also mark the first time the Jaguars have had a full-capacity crowd for a regular-season matchup since the team defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 38-20, at TIAA Bank Field on Dec. 29, 2019.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 17, 2021
In his debut, rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 28 of 51 passes for 332 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per pass. Lawrence also threw for three touchdowns and was sacked only once in his first career start.
On Sunday, the biggest issue was Lawrence threw three interceptions last week playing against the Texans’ Cover 2 defense. This week, he will have to correct those mistakes as he faces Broncos head coach Vic Fangio’s defense that has more complex rushes and multiple, changing coverages.
“It’s a lot different,” Lawrence said. “This is still a big zone team, but more match principles, so they are really good athletes that can carry and play man. Their disguises are really good in the backend. Upfront, they have the two linebackers. They’re really like d-ends but can drop, play coverage, Von Miller, Bradley Chubb. They have a lot of other guys too that can roll in, but those two guys on the edge [have] great pass rush.”
The offense will also need to limit their mistakes before the snap, as they were called for four pre-snap penalties, as three of them were for illegal formation. Also, the offensive line will need to avoid holding calls that set them back after a couple of runs by running back James Robinson and Carlos Hyde last week.
It will be a challenge with Denver’s linebackers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb attacking the offense.
“Yeah, Von is going to line up to our right side, we know where he’s at every snap,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s that good of a player. He’s also good against zone read and those types of things. But he’s a dynamic, generational pass rusher, so you just have to know where he’s at and you have to have a plan for him.”
Lawrence will need to protect the ball as he looks for his targets downfield. He needs to play into his offensive scheme and not try to force anything as the NFL moves a lot quicker than college football.
Jaguars wide receivers DJ Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones Jr., will need to find opportunities to get open on routes so Lawrence can get them the ball in open space to gain yards and score a touchdown on drives. They will also need to improve on catching the ball, as they were a few drops last week.
Last week the Jags defense left too many plays on the field in Week 1. They missed would-be sacks that might have changed the momentum of the game.
The defense must play solid on Sunday against a Broncos team that will want to run the ball. They must also worry about tackling Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when they look to pressure him.
“The offense can be explosive,” cornerback Shaquill Griffin said.” You have to start fast and that’s the part we make sure we focus on is starting fast, getting the best of Teddy, and make him kind of air that ball out, make those guys try to make plays with the receivers.”
The Jaguars had multiple chances to eliminate big plays by the Texans that changed the game’s outcome. There were two long passes that set up touchdowns that stayed in the air long enough to be defended by the Jaguars secondary.
This week, the Jaguars will need to stop the run and keep Bridgewater in the pocket, forcing him to throw the ball away if there is nothing open. The secondary will also need to play lockdown defense, avoiding big plays down the field that could lead to potential points forcing the Jags to be behind.
Bridgewater will look to create a balanced offensive attack against the Jags to create opportunities in the run and passing games. Last week he was 28-36 completions throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon III ran for 101 yards on 11 attempts, with his longest run being 70 yards and one touchdown. If Gordon can recreate that dominance, it will be a long day for the Jaguars’ defensive line.
Bridgewater should look to find open receivers with play-action if the run game develops, but if nothing is open, he should find space outside the pocket to gain some yards to get the first or a massive chunk of yards.
Denver has talented receivers who can spread the field, creating unfavorable matchups for the young Jacksonville defense. The Broncos offense should look to put 20-plus points on the board against the Jaguars if they plan to win the game.
Bridgewater had this to say about his upcoming opponent:
“You’re a rookie but to the other guys on the field, man, you’re a polished vet and the expectation level is so high,” Bridgewater said. “I think with the guys we’re facing these next two weeks, I think they welcome those expectations. They welcome the challenge, and you watch them, and they go out there and play, especially with Trevor [Lawrence] this week.
The Broncos defense shall look to throw different defensive schemes at rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence to keep him guessing throughout all four quarters of the contest.
This would be the perfect time for the Broncos to bring different blitzes to see if the Jaguars’ offensive line can hold up and prevent Lawrence from getting sacked or throwing Interceptions under heavy pressure.
Instead, head coach Fangio has a different approach.
“We play the defense that we’re comfortable playing,” Fangio said. “[There is] no sense in making our guys uncomfortable for the sake of that. Hopefully, we do a good enough job disguising our intentions and that helps. A lot of people think pressuring a rookie quarterback is the way to go, but sometimes that makes it easy for him. It identifies the coverage; he gets the ball out quick. You just need to have a good mix of pressure and coverage
The defense should also look to force turnovers as Lawrence threw for three interceptions in week one. If the secondary can play tough physical defense, it will be a long day for the Jaguars’ offense. They just have to find a perfect balance between pressure and coverage.
The Jaguars are 6-5 all-time against Denver, including a 3-2 record when playing at home. Jacksonville has played against the Broncos twice in their home opener (2007 and 2010) and won both games.
In their last meeting against Denver, Jacksonville won, 26-24, at Empower Field at Mile High after Kicker Josh Lambo connected on a 33-yard game-winning Field goal as time expired.