Ahead of Sunday’s matchup, I chatted with Black and Teal site expert David Levin about the Bengals Week 7 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bengals and rookie head coach Zac Taylor are still searching for their first win as the season’s halfway point draws near. This week, the 2-4 Jaguars come to town. However, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew seems to have injected some life into their season.
With that backdrop, here is what David Levin of FanSided’s Jaguars site Black and Teal, had to say about Sunday’s matchup.
SH: Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew is still an unknown beyond his mustache to a lot of NFL fans, what does he do well and what needs the most work?
BAT: He is as calm a quarterback as I have witnessed in my time covering football and as a fan of the game. He is accurate and works well both in the pocket and on the move. He gives the Jaguars and their fans an infusion of adrenaline They have not had in years.
Last week was the first time we saw him play like a “rookie” and he will need to rely on his teammates to play better under pressure going forward. The one thing I would like to see him do better is holding on to the football.
SH: Minshew is getting the hype, but is it really Leonard Fournette who is still the key to success for Jacksonville?
BAT: Yes. Fournette is the straw that stirs the drink for this offense. The running game is the team’s bread and butter because it helps open up the passing game. The rookie runner that Fournette was two seasons ago has left and the one who played only eight games last season has vanished.
What the Jaguars have now is a more mature, more focused runner who is also becoming a solid pass receiver out of the backfield and a team leader on and off the field. Look for him to have a big game this week against the Bengals front seven.
SH: The Jaguars are used to life without Jalen Ramsey by now, but what does the secondary look like without him and can it hold up?
BAT: It can hold up. A.J. Bouye moves into the No. 1 cornerback role with Tre Herndon assuming the starting role he has had while Ramsey has been “injured”. He looked terrible in the game against Denver but has played much better the last two games.
I am not sure if defensive coordinator Todd Wash changes any of his schemes with Ramsey gone for good. Look for the Jaguars to continue to play zone most of the game. Also, the safeties, Ronnie Harrison and Jarod Wilson will have to play in space and come up and help in coverage if the Bengals throw underneath.
SH: What impact has rookie first-round pick Josh Allen had on the Jaguars defense?
BAT: He has four sacks, is quicker than many linebackers and can run through offensive linemen. The Jaguars lucked into the pick and it has paid off nicely so far. Allen and Yannick Ngakoue form a nice duo of pass rushers with Calais Campbell moving inside at times to play tackle.
There was some question of how the coaching staff would get all three players on the field at one time, which led many of the local media to think the Jaguars would go to a 3-4 defense and Allen would play outside linebacker. The system Todd Wash has come up with, with the help of Dom Capers, has worked well most of the time.
SH: Who wins and why?
The Jaguars do 28-17. This is a statement game for them. Ramsey’s turmoil is no longer part of the team’s identity. The Jaguar’s defense looked good against the Saints and play an inferior offense in Cincinnati. This is still a solid defense without Ramsey in the fold. The roster plays as a unified group and is out to prove they have moved on from the distractions of the past month.
This is also a game where Minshew must shake off his poor performance last weekend and show he can bounce back after facing adversity against the Saints defense at home.
Thanks to Black and Teal for helping us out this week! Be sure to check out their site.