The Jacksonville Jaguars head to Los Angeles to face the banged-up Chargers on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams are 1-1 and are led by young, high-ceiling quarterbacks in Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert. Lawrence was the first overall pick out of Clemson in the 2021 NFL Draft while Herbert was the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Jags are full of confidence after last week’s 24-0 shutout victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Lawrence, who had a rocky rookie season, shined against the Colts. He completed 25 of his 30 pass attempts and threw for two touchdowns with no interceptions. The Jags defense also impressed, recording three interceptions and five sacks. The team also held the Colts to only 45 rushing yards.
Chargers Look to Rebound
On the other hand, the Chargers are looking to bounce back after a tough 27-24 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs in week two. Herbert suffered a scary rib injury with five minutes left in the fourth quarter after being drilled by Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna. Herbert went to the sideline for one play, but then proceeded to throw a critical interception when he returned. He powered through the rest of the game, leading a touchdown drive in the final minutes. Still, Herbert was in visible pain. He constantly clutched his rib cage and had to give up on certain passing plays because of the pain in his ribs.
Following the game, Herbert sustained a fractured rib cartilage and the injury was considered day-to-day. His status for the Jacksonville game is still questionable. He has been a limited participant in practice throughout the week, but was seen throwing passes in Thursday’s practice.
coach staley on justin herbert: pic.twitter.com/z6rdjQ7RTG
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) September 21, 2022
Jacksonville’s Fiery Defense
Unfortunately for the Chargers, Herbert is not the only injured player. Star wide receiver Keenan Allen is still nursing a hamstring injury and is questionable for Sunday’s game. The game-time status of Herbert and Allen will be a key component of the matchup. The Chargers offense has struggled running the ball so far this season, averaging only 2.7 yards per carry. The squad has been relying heavily upon their passing game, led by Herbert’s connection to receiver Mike Williams and running back Austin Ekeler. However, if Herbert and Allen can’t go, the Chargers will need to adapt their offensive game plan.
The Jaguars’ young defense, led by linebackers Devin Lloyd and Josh Allen, may exploit the holes in the Chargers offense. The Jags kept the Colts scoreless last week. They constantly pressured Indy QB Matt Ryan and shut down the team’s run-game. The Jags also have the best turnover ratio in the NFL (+5). The combination of the Chargers’ weak run game and the Jaguars’ solid run defense could be a tough hurdle for LA to overcome.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 19, 2022
LA’s offensive line needs to improve their protection of Herbert this week if he plays. Herbert was hit eight times and sacked twice against the Chiefs, which lead to his rib injury. The Jaguars’ defense pressured Matt Ryan 18 times last week, hit him 11 times and sacked him five times.
Star-Studded Defense Against a Young Offense
Unlike the Chargers, the Jags offense is injury-free. While Jacksonville’s fiery young offense led by Lawrence, James Robinson and Christian Kirk have put up solid numbers thus far, they face a seasoned, tough defense this Sunday. Superstar linebacker Khalil Mack, relentless defensive lineman Joey Bosa and hard-hitting safety Derwin James are going to be a challenge for the Jaguars. The Chargers’ defense held the Chiefs’ powerhouse offense to relatively low numbers last week, especially considering that seven of the Chiefs’ 27 points came from a Herbert pick six.
The Jags offense, which ranked 27th in yards per game in 2021, will need to find ways to work around the Chargers’ resilient defense. Kirk, who is in his first season in Jacksonville, has emerged as the teams’ go-to receiver thus far. Through two games, Kirk has just under 200 receiving yards and has scored twice. A notable injury in the Chargers’ defense is cornerback J.C. Jackson. Jackson is dealing with an ankle injury and did not practice on Thursday. He is questionable for Sunday’s game.
The Jaguars’ offensive line have protected Lawrence well so far this season. Lawrence was not sacked last week against the Colts, and he has only thrown one interception through two games. Still, Mack and Bosa will be a tough challenge for the Jaguars offensive line.
Big Game for Doug Pederson
This game is very important for Jacksonville’s new head coach. If Pederson is able to beat a banged-up Chargers team and hold the top seed in the AFC South, it could go a long way for his status as a successful new coach. Jacksonville brought in the former Eagles head coach over the offseason after a terrible stint with Urban Meyer. Pederson won the 2018 Super Bowl with the Eagles, and the Jags’ front office hopes he can replicate that success in Jacksonville. If Pederson knocks down a stacked squad, the Jaguars may be seen as legit contenders in the AFC.
The game is set to kick off at 4:05 p.m. at SoFi Stadium in LA.