The Jacksonville Jaguars will be flying to the United Kingdom today for their annual international game. This time, it will be against another AFC team from Florida in the Miami Dolphins who also haven’t had the season they were hoping for.
As always, there are a few concerns heading into Sunday’s game, especially after how the Jags’ last game against the Tennessee Titans went. Some are injury related, some are coach related, and some even relate to the current personnel that will take the field. With that being the case, let’s take a look at some things that could stand in the way of the Jags getting their first win if not addressed correctly:
The Jags might not respond well to a schedule in the United Kingdom
Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) against the Denver Broncos at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Jags will be about 4,300 miles away from home, and the scheduling could throw them off their game. Sure, the organization has been making this trip for quite some time, but many of the players on the current Jags roster haven’t. Also, some of the key veterans that have grown accustomed to the trip won’t be available like center Brandon Linder, guard A.J. Cann, receiver DJ Chark, and linebacker Myles Jack.
Of course, as professionals, it falls on the players to make any adjustments necessary, but this is a young team, and at times, the slightest things can derail young teams. Then again, the Dolphins could have the same issue.
Ultimately, fans won’t know how both teams respond to their new schedules until the game starts, but the last thing Jags fans need to see is their team look unprepared.
The improper usage of RB James Robinson
Oct 10, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (25) rushes with the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The Jags’ usage of James Robinson has been puzzling, to say the least, and he has yet to register over 18 carries in a game. With the start that he got off to against the Titans, there is no way he should’ve fell short of 20 in the eyes of most. However, after having 11 (of his 18 carries) in the first-half, his usage was decreased in the second-half.
When asked about this, Meyer told the media that he didn’t realize that Robinson fell well short of his first half usage.
“He is playing really well. I didn’t realize that,” Meyer said. “I’ll check after this, but there’s no intent other than if he gets a spell. I know after a long run they yank him to get his wind back. But he’s playing at a high level. He’s another competitive maniac.”
It’s hard to understand how Meyer and Co. could forget the success they had through Robinson in the first half. Regardless, it would be disappointing to see it happen against a Dolphins team that has allowed a 422.2 yard per game average, which is good for 30th in the league. If there ever was a game where Robinson needs to see 20 carries or more, it’s this one, and if he isn’t the focal point of the offense Sunday, owner Shad Khan needs to do some serious evaluations during the bye week.
The absence of Brandon Linder
Jaguars quarterback (16) Trevor Lawrence greets OL (69) Tyler Shatley at the start of the Jacksonville Jaguars training camp session at the practice fields outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL Friday, July 30, 2021.
Brandon Linder was placed on injured reserve this week with ankle and MCL injuries, which means the Jags will be without their best offensive lineman and a team captain. Additionally, Linder has been a vital part of helping Lawrence figure out the NFL game.
That said, playing in Linder’s place will be veteran Tyler Shatley, who is as experienced as a backup that fans will find with 25 starts. Still, the offense is unlikely to be the same without a player of Linder’s caliber.
In addition to Linder’s absence, Shatley has been limited in practice with a groin injury, which is also worth watching. However, if he’s able to go, the Jags need a solid game out of him and will need the veteran to be on the same page as Lawrence, and maybe the snaps they took together in the preseason will prove to be valuable.
The Jags' passing defense
Oct 10, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon (37) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Jacob Hollister (86) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The Jaguars’ passing defense has struggled mightily and will come into this game ranked 25th, allowing an average of 286.6 yards per game. Their secondary, in particular, has struggled and it’s partly due to miscommunication. This is something cornerback Shaquill Griffin pointed out after Week 5’s game against Tennessee when asked about how the team struggled against tight ends.
“I feel like, when it comes to the tight ends breaking open or making some plays, I felt like it was really on us,” Griffin said. “I couldn’t say the tight end really just got off the line and was beating people. I think it was literally a lot of miscommunication, and that’s the part that’s frustrating. I hate to be the guy because I used to hate listening to it, but a coach could tell you, ‘Oh, guys, we beat ourselves again. That’s the only reason we lost.’ I used to hate hearing that. But seeing these literally self-inflicted wounds we continue to give each other [is hard.] We’ll be out there talking, and then there’s a miscommunication and someone is open by himself. Those are things that just can’t happen in football. It just can’t.”
Issues like upgrading the talent level is something that doesn’t fall on the players, but miscommunication is an issue they can control. That said, if this team is to have any shot at turning the season around, they will need the defensive backs to get on the same page, which would help clean up the passing defense a little.
Luckily for them, this could be the perfect week to get on the same page because the Dolphins passing game hasn’t been all that great. A key reason for that is because they’ve had Jacoby Brissett starting as Tua Tagovailoa sustained a rib injury in the Dolphins’ second regular season game. However, Tagovailoa could be back Sunday, but regardless of who is at quarterback, life in the pocket for them will be easier if the Jags’ communication issues continue.