The Jaguars enter week four after a reassuring first victory of the season over the Tennessee Titans last Thursday. Let's look at ten storylines entering the fourth week of the 2019 season.
Jalen Ramsey is sick.
The timing of Jalen Ramsey's sickness is about as awkward as it gets. Exactly one week after requesting a trade, the Jaguars' star cornerback came down with an illness. Here's what we know: After a meeting with Tom Coughlin last Sunday that went awry, 2.0 requested a trade. Since then, he played at an extremely high level against the Jaguars' arch-rivals, the Titans. He wants to be a team player, but reportedly hasn't changed his stance on wanting to be traded, even though team owner Shad Khan is prepared to make Ramsey the highest-paid cornerback in football. And for those wondering, Ramsey isn't faking an illness, several reports claim that he couldn't keep fluid down and was with the team doctor on Monday. This is a fluid situation, and we'll provide updates as they come.
Minshew Mania is in full effect.
The Gardner Minshew craze is sweeping the nation. Minshew has yet to put up a poor performance for the Jaguars. He's played in all three games and has started two of them. The mustachioed Minshew has thrown for 692 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. With a completion percentage of 73.9 and a quarterback rating of 110.6, the rookie from Washington State has sparked a fire in the Jaguars.
The pass protection is trending in the right direction.
In two of the Jaguars three games this season, the pass protection has been immaculate. The lone stinker came in Houston in week two, when the Texans blitzed early and often. The Jaguars gave up just one sack in week one against the Chiefs and stoned the Titans' defensive line in week three and didn't surrender a single sack. The Jaguars travel to Denver to take on the Broncos and their fearsome pass-rushing combination of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The two edge rushers have — amazingly — not picked up a sack all year, but the Jaguars will need to be on their A-game to make sure those two don't get off the snide this Sunday.
The running game is trending in the wrong direction.
The Jaguars haven't been able to run the ball in 2019. Averaging only 90 yards per game, Jacksonville is 23rd in the NFL in rushing. The offensive line hasn't been opening up holes or getting push. Leonard Fournette, who's getting almost all of the carries for the Jags, doesn't seem to be able to find the few running lanes that are there. To compete for the playoffs down the stretch, the Big Cats need to find their running game.
Sacksonville is Backsonville.
The Jaguars' pass rush came to life against the Titans. With nine sacks, nearly everyone got in on the party in Tennessee's backfield. Calais Campbell led the way with three sacks. Denver's offensive line has allowed 11 sacks in just three games this season. On paper, that's a huge mismatch in the Jaguars' favor.
DJ Chark might be on the brink of stardom.
Second-year wide receiver DJ Chark's emergence in 2019 has been well documented on this site and around Duval, but if this type of play continues, he'll become a household name around the NFL. Chark has hauled in 15 passes for 277 yards and three scores. He's averaging over 18 yards per catch! It's always been apparent that Chark has big-play potential, but the most surprising development has been his consistency. He's catching an amazing 83.3% of his targets.
Taven Bryan is developing nicely.
Bryan's raw strength has always been apparent, but he's starting to put it all together. In 2018, Bryan looked lost on the field. But so far in 2019, Bryan has been making strides. In week three he picked up his first sack of the season and was regularly disruptive. If Bryan can continue to play heads up football and grow more comfortable in his role, he could become a starting-caliber player for the Jaguars down the road.
The teams around the AFC South didn't do the Jaguars any favors in week three.
After beating the Titans on Thursday night, there was potential for the Jaguars to enter a four-way tie for first place in the AFC South. All they needed was for the Colts to lose to the Falcons, and the Texans to lose to the Chargers in Los Angeles. The Colts jumped out on the Falcons, and despite a strong comeback effort from Atlanta, Indy prevailed. The Chargers got off to a hot start against the Texans, but it wasn't meant to be. The Texans stormed back and emerged victorious. But even with the Texans and Colts picking up wins in week three, the Jaguars are just one game back in the division.
The Jaguars' schedule sets up nicely for several weeks.
The Broncos are traditionally tough to play at home. But these Broncos lack offensive firepower and haven't been good enough to get the job done on defense. After the Jaguars travel to Denver, they go to Carolina, another team that's struggling. And Carolina may still be without Cam Newton, who is dealing with a foot injury. The Jaguars then host the Saints, sans Drew Brees. After that, they have a road showdown with the lowly Bengals and then a home game against the Jets. The Jaguars are far from a well-oiled machine at this point, so winning these game won't be easy. But if this team starts to click, the schedule does favor them.
Josh Oliver could be back soon.
The Jaguars' 2019 third-round pick has yet to see the field this year. He suffered a hamstring injury early in training camp and hasn't been able to practice since. But Doug Marrone said he'll return to the practice field this week. It's unclear whether or not he'll play in Denver, but if all goes well, he'll play in his first game as a member of the Jaguars sooner rather than later. Oliver will give the Jaguars a seam-stretching target over the middle.
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