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Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Jets last met Jacksonville back in 2019 with the Jaguars winning 29-15, led by Gardner Minshew. This year’s matchup pits the top two picks in April’s draft against one another as two of the league’s worst teams might both see this as their last realistic chance of getting another win in 2021.

Quarterbacks

Much like Zach Wilson, it’s been a tough rookie season for the first overall pick Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars’ quarterback of the future has only had one game all season where he threw more touchdowns than interceptions - the win over Miami - and the Jacksonville offense is last in points scored and second worst in total yards.

Lawrence has only thrown one touchdown pass since week eight and hasn’t thrown more than one in a game since the season opener. However, he does have two 300-yard games and will hope for a similarly productive outing with so many Jets defenders potentially unavailable.

The backup is CJ Beathard, who will have seen plenty of Robert Saleh’s system while playing in San Francisco. He’s completed his only two passes of the season.

Offensive Line

The continuity on Jacksonville’s offensive line hasn’t been too bad with the five starters and two main reserves from 2020 all returning.

Veteran left guard Andrew Norwell and right tackle Jawaan Taylor have started every game, although they have been called for 20 penalties between them. Taylor has also given up a team high five sacks.

At right tackle, Cam Robinson missed one game but has actually given up more pressure than Taylor. He has only surrendered one sack though. Rookie second rounder Walker Little started the one game that he missed and filled in for him when he injured his neck last week. Robinson has been practicing during the week though, so will play.

Right guard AJ Cann was the original starter at right guard but he’s now on injured reserve and his replacement, Ben Bartch, has arguably been an upgrade. He’s just been added to the Covid-19 reserve list though.

At center, Brandon Linder is the starter but he’s been banged up so reserve Tyler Shatley has started six games and is a slight downgrade. It’s possible Shatley could fill in for Bartch because he can also play guard. Then again, Linder himself has been listed as questionable after showing up on the injury report with a quad injury on Friday.

Will Richardson and KC McDermott fill out the rest of the bench. Richardson started at right guard a few weeks ago but didn’t last very long while McDermott hasn’t played yet.

Running Backs

James Robinson was a thousand-yard rusher as an undrafted rookie last season and is on course to repeat this feat, although he has been dealing with a knee injury. Robinson has already surpassed last year’s rushing touchdown total with eight so far.

First round pick Travis Etienne is already out for the season due to a foot injury and Robinson’s backup, Carlos Hyde, joined him on injured reserve this week.

That leaves Ryquell Armstead and Dare Ogunbowale as the backups. Ogunbowale hasn’t played much this year and Armstead is making his return after almost two years out, following Covid-19 complications last year. The Jaguars did also elevate Nathan Cottrell from the practice squad as a Covid replacement.

Pass catchers

The weapons available to Lawrence took a hit when DJ Chark - a thousand-yard receiver back in 2019 - broke his ankle in October. Reserve Jamal Agnew has also been placed on injured reserve.

That leaves veterans Marvin Jones and Tavon Austin as starters alongside last year’s second round pick Laviska Shenault, although Shenault was added to Covid-19 reserve on Thursday.

Jones and Shenault are tied for the team lead with 56 catches each but Jones, who caught four touchdown passes in a 2013 game against the Jets, leads them in yards and touchdown catches.

Shenault and Austin provide some good yardage after the catch on short passes but each averages less than 10 yards per catch. With Chark out, former first round pick Laquon Treadwell might be their best big play threat.

Dan Arnold is the team’s best tight end, but he’s been placed on injured reserve. He had 28 catches in nine games.

With Arnold out, Chris Manhertz is listed as the starter with fifth round rookie Luke Farrell and veteran James O’Shaughnessy backing him up. Of the three, O’Shaughnessy has been easily the most productive in the passing game with 20 catches, though.

Reserve receiver Jaydon Mickens and tight end Jacob Hollister have just six catches for 31 yards between them. Mickens might need to step up if Shenault is out but they also elevated Josh Hammond from the practice squad.

Defensive Line

The Jaguars operate a defense that uses multiple fronts and personnel groupings, but one constant is Josh Allen coming off the edge. He leads the team with 5.5 sacks. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, he became their first addition to the Covid-19 reserve list on Thursday and is definitely out.

Dawuane Smoot has also done well off the edge with five sacks and a team high 14 quarterback hits, despite being listed as a backup.

On the interior, nose tackle Davon Hamilton, Malcom Brown and Roy Robertson-Harris are all listed as starters. All have struggled against the run but Robertson-Harris is a disruptive pass rusher with three sacks on the year.

The other edge rushers - K’Lavon Chaisson, Lerentee McCray, and Jihad Ward have been less productive but Taven Bryan and Adam Gotsis each have a couple of sacks off the bench on the inside. McCray is has been ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Jaguars have two fourth round rookies in their defensive line room but defensive tackle Jay Tufele has barely played and edge rusher Jordan Smith hasn’t played at all. Smith was just added to the Covid-19 reserve list on Saturday.

Linebackers

At linebacker, Myles Jack plays a full time role and the other starter, Damien Wilson, is on the field most of the time. Jack is just three tackles ahead of Wilson for the team lead with 97 on the year. Both have been exploited a lot in coverage though.

The three reserves are Shaquille Quarterman, Chapelle Russell and Dakota Allen, although none of the three got any reps last week. Quarterman has played the most of the three and has 20 tackles on the year.

Undrafted rookie Dylan Moses has been on the non-football injury list all season, but he practiced for the first time this week.

Defensive Backs

At safety, Andrew Wingard and Rayshawn Jenkins have started every game but Jenkins just went onto injured reserve so someone else will need to step up.

The other safeties on the roster are Daniel Thomas and third round rookie Andre Cisco and they haven’t played much. They split time on Sunday after Jenkins got hurt. Rudy Ford is also listed as a safety and he has been getting regular playing time, albeit at the slot cornerback position. Brandon Rusnak was also elevated as a Covid replacement on Saturday.

The starters at cornerback have been Tyson Campbell and Shaquil Griffin since CJ Henderson was traded in September. Campbell is the only player with multiple interceptions and leads the team with nine pass breakups but Griffin has played well too.

At cornerback, Tre Herndon got some playing time in the slot and Nevin Lawson on the outside earlier in the year but they didn’t get any defensive reps on Sunday. In fact, Chris Claybrooks was active ahead of Lawson.

Special Teams

Former seventh round pick Logan Cooke remains the team’s punter after having signed a four-year extension back in March. He’s second in the league in net average.

First year kicker Matthew Wright is responsible for both of the Jaguars’ wins this year. He made a 54-yarder to tie the Miami game with 3:40 to go and then won it as time expired from 53. He then accounted for all the scoring in the 9-6 win over the Bills, albeit that the game winner came with over 12 minutes remaining.

Wright has missed five of his 28 kicks on the year but none have been particularly costly. He has shared kickoff duties with Cooke.

The Jaguars have given up three touchdowns on special teams this year; one on an onside kick that was returned for a score, one on a blocked punt and one on a 98-yard kickoff return last week.

They also scored two, both on returns by Agnew. However, he’s on injured reserve so Mickens is now the primary return man. He broke a 48-yard punt return last week but his kickoff return numbers are underwhelming so far. Austin backs him up on punts and Claybrooks on kickoffs.

In kick coverage, Ford is probably their best gunner and, while Jenkins was leading them in tackles, the likes of Ogunbowale, McCray and Quarterman all also contribute.

You can check out the odds for this game courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.