The Jaguars are coming off their first win of the 2021 season and looking to build some momentum as they head to Seattle in week eight to take on a Seahawks club that will be missing quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Chris Carson.
Here's how the Jaguars can continue to improve as they head into a stretch that will see them play a game 11 weeks in a row.
Continue to Call Diverse Coverages
In week six, during their first win of the season, the Jaguars began to mix it up on the back end of their defense with a variety of different looks. Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen's plan worked, as Tua eventually made a few mistakes, including throwing an ugly interception to Nevin Lawson when the Jaguars dropped into a zone. There's an old adage: Keep it simple, stupid. But the Jaguars don't have a very talented secondary as it's currently constructed. So, keeping it simple on the back end isn't the best plan of action because when there is an overall talent deficiency, quarterbacks can and will pick apart coverages, especially when they know what's coming. That's where switching between man and zone looks from down to down, and drive to drive can help create chaos. The Jaguars' next quarterback on the schedule is Geno Smith, a guy who hasn't played a ton of ball over the last few years. Confuse him, Joe. Sure, if your own guys can't keep their rules straight in the secondary, you can get in trouble, but considering the Jaguars already boast one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, it can't get much worse. And if you make a quarterback think for even half a second, it can help the pass rush get home.
Realize What you Have in Jamal Agnew
The Jaguars are beginning to feed Jamal Agnew more and more. This trend should continue. He was targeted six times in the week six win in London, while Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones both saw ten targets each. I'm not going to sit here and suggest Agnew should lead the team in targets, but he should have more equity in the Jaguars' passing game. Agnew can make something out of nothing on jet sweeps, screens, and shallow crossers, but also has the ability to be an actual receiver, winning at all three levels. The guy has hauled in 12/14 targets in 2021 and has shown off crisp route running, toughness, elusiveness, speed, the ability to make tough catches in traffic, and some toe-drag-swag. Agnew comes in a small package, but to this point, he's been able to do everything the Jaguars have asked of him and more. Jaguars' offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell — who was part of the reason Jamal Agnew signed with Jacksonville — needs to make sure this efficient and explosive offensive playmaker is involved early and often.
Get Andre Cisco on the Field
This one has been obvious since the preseason when the rookie safety was one of the stand-out performers for the Big Cats. Now, I have to say, outside of his gutless performance against Derrick Henry and the Titans, Andrew Wingard has been okay. Still, Dewey doesn't have the ideal range or overall athleticism for the modern game. Insert Andre Cisco, who has range, playmaking ability, athleticism, and toughness to spare. The Jaguars have struggled mightily to create turnovers in 2021, and guess who happened to force 14 turnovers in 24 collegiate appearances! That's right, Andre Cisco. Head coach Urban Meyer made it clear this week that they need to get Cisco on the field. My only question for Urban is: Do you know who controls whether or not Cisco is on the field? Hint: it's you.
Continue to Play Nevin Lawson
Veteran cornerback Nevin Lawson found his way to the field for the Jaguars during the second half of their week five loss to the Titans. And he played surprisingly well. In week six, with starting cornerback Tyson Campbell still on the mend, the Jaguars rewarded Lawson with a starting role. He came up with two pass breakups, including an interception, and held his own more than Chris Claybrooks or Tre Herndon have to this point in the season. Lawson allowed four completions on six targets in primary coverage, and while that isn't stellar, it's far better than anyone else not named Shaquill Griffin has performed at cornerback for the Jags. Tyson Campbell is expected to return this week and will likely re-enter the starting lineup opposite Shaq Griffin. The Jaguars would be wise to keep Lawson on the field in the slot. Needing Lawson on the field is not ideal, but that's where the Jaguars are at right now.
Get Healthy on Defense
As I mentioned, Tyson Campbell will be back in week eight, and while he has had his fair share of struggles during his rookie year, he's been better than Claybrooks or Herndon, and indeed still has room to grow into the position. His return should help if ever so slightly. And on the off chance he shows improvement after a couple of weeks of reflection due to a toe injury, he could help the Jaguars' defense carry some momentum into Seattle.
Myles Jack is also expected to return in week eight. Sans the green dot, Myles Jack enjoyed one of his best performances of the year during week five. But a back/oblique injury sidelined him for some of the second half and forced him to miss the trip to London. The Jaguars need Myles Jack, and they need him to perform as he did in 2020, the best season of his career.
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