DJ Chark burst out of the gates in 2019 like a thoroughbred racehorse. His meteoric ascension to the top of NFL receiving charts has been something to behold. After a disappointing rookie season, Chark went on a tear through the first five weeks of his sophomore campaign. The six-foot-four speedster from LSU racked up 485 receiving yards and five touchdowns in the Jaguars' first five games of the season. His efficiency and explosiveness were on full display: Chark hauled in 27/37 targets and averaged 17.9 yards per catch during that span.
But a week six matchup with Marshon Lattimore and a talented Saints' defense saw Chark's performance fall back down to earth. It should be no surprise that Chark, along with the rest of the Jaguars' offense, struggled to produce. The Saints' schemed up a perfect strategy to slow down Gardner Minshew, bracketing him inside the pocket — effectively limiting his ability to create outside the original play design.
Chark caught just three of his seven targets for 43 yards and was held scoreless for just the second time in 2019.
But Chark's fortunes are likely to change in seven when he and the Jaguars travel to Cincinnati. Even at full strength, the Bengals' defense was struggling mightily this year. Now, their top two cornerbacks will be on the shelf for multiple weeks. Dre Kirkpatrick hyper-extended his knee in the Bengals' loss to the Ravens last week. On Tuesday (via Tom Pelissero), we learned that Williams Jackson would also be sidelined for multiple weeks with a shoulder injury.
Tony McCrae, Torry McTyer, and perhaps Darqueze Dennard.
Dennard has spent the entire season on the PUP list but could be activated this week. McCrae has played just 84 defensive snaps this season and has allowed catches on six of seven targets. McTyer has even less game experience in 2019. Earning his first snaps just a week ago, McTyer has logged just six plays this season. His resume from 2018 doesn't inspire much confidence from a Bengals' perspective: McTyer surrendered 22 catches on 27 targets with the Dolphins last year.
As long as the Jaguars' offensive line gives Minshew the time he needs to find Chark and the rest of the Jaguars' receivers, it should be a feeding frenzy. The Bengals have registered just seven sacks this season, so keeping Minshew upright should be doable.
It's about time for a Chark attack, Duval.
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