Stud of the Week: The Cornerback Group
The entire Jaguars defense proved me wrong in Week 1. I have openly said that we would have a slow start to the season because of the defense needing time to mesh, but we did an admirable job against a high-powered offense led by the most talented QB in the NFL right now. Aaron Rodgers makes defenses look silly on a regular basis, but we held him to under 200 yards passing on the day.
The most impressive part of the defensive performance was the play of our CB group. The team played nickel package (3 CBs) for most of the game and the corners were asked to do a lot against a great offense. Jalen Ramsey, Prince Amukamura and Davon House played out of their minds on Sunday, forcing Rodgers to make perfect passes consistently. Now, because he is such a great player, Rodgers is able to do that and was able to make throws that 99% of QBs couldn't make (see: Rodgers throwing a touchdown over 20 yards while being pulled to the ground by Ramsey). If not for the play of these three corners, Rodgers probably would have torched us and stopped this game from ever being close.
Dud of the Week: The Officiating Crew
As a fan, I hate hearing other fans try to blame the refs for a loss. Even when plays like the famous Fail Mary happen, the refs aren’t to blame for your team not outperforming the other the rest of the game. I’m not going to blame the refs for our loss on Sunday either, as we did not play anywhere close to a perfect game, especially on offense.
However, the performance by the refs in our game Sunday was absolutely horrendous. Three blatantly obvious pass interference (or defensive holding; basically any penalty where the defender interferes with a route by an offensive player) calls on Allen Robinson were missed by the refs and could have been game changers. There were also incidents where Jags defenders should have gotten called and didn’t. There were moments in this game where I thought these were the replacement refs from a few years ago coming back to prank the NFL.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something that the team or the players can fix, but the NFL needs to take a serious look at this officiating crew (and others from around the league) and make sure they know how to perform their jobs at the highest possible level. There are an insane amount of factors that create the result of every game in the NFL, but poor officiating should never be one of them.
Offensive Player to Watch: Kelvin Beachum
The offensive line is not necessarily the most fun thing to talk about, but Beachum could be the Jags’ most intriguing offensive player for Week 2. Beachum impressed in his first week as a starter with the Jags, showing power and the ability to open holes in the run game. I want to see if he can do it again against another average defensive front. The Chargers don't necessarily have the pass-rushing prowess that the Packers have, but their front line is just as strong and they do have some solid pass rushing ability, especially if Joey Bosa plays for his first career game. Beachum isn’t going to draw your attention much, but for an offensive lineman, no news is good news.
Defensive Player to Watch: Dante Fowler Jr.
Fowler’s NFL debut was uninspiring to say the least. He combined for 3 tackles but wasn’t able to record a TFL or a sack. The Jaguars D-Line as a whole was not able to create much pressure on an offensive line that had it’s fair share of question marks. Fans who watched the game probably have that distinct memory of Abry Jones sprinting to sack Aaron Rodgers, but outside of that, there aren’t many cases of us pressuring him throughout the contest. Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue were expected to do much more than they did in their debuts.
Week 2 should be a completely different game for the pass rushers, especially Fowler. Rodgers creates a huge problem for defensive lineman, as he can create outside of the pocket better than any other QB in the NFL, even Russell Wilson. The defensive ends have to prioritize containment over hunting for sacks. If Rodgers is able to escape the pocket, the back-end of the defense breaks down more easily and makes big plays more likely (watch Bortles from last season, this is how the majority of his long plays happened).
Basically, the point here is that Fowler wasn’t expected to have 4 sacks in this game. While he wasn’t able to optimally contain or create pressure, he faces a worse offensive line with an incredibly immobile QB in Week 2. Fowler should have plenty of chances to pin his ears back and attack Phillip Rivers. We’ll see if he can perform up to expectations.
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