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After their first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns that proved they have a lot of work to do, the Jacksonville Jaguars will look to put together a better performance this Monday against the New Orleans Saints. And while the defense allowed Cleveland’s passing game to have a lot of success in that game, the Jags’ offense needs to get going much quicker this week.
Monday’s game will be nationally televised on ESPN against a good defensive squad, so it would be a great time for a wide variety of fans to see their potential on offense. Here are five names to watch on that side of the ball as the Jags are set to take the field for their second preseason game of 2021.
WR Phillip Dorsett
Jul 30, 2021; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (13) participates in training camp at Dream Finders Homes practice field Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
In their last preseason game, the Jags' offense was lacking speed on the perimeter when their top players were on the field. Of course, that could be fixed when DJ Chark Jr. returns from finger surgery, but there is another name that missed their preseason opener who could help them in this department. That player is Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett, who signed with the Jags in free agency this offseason, has been great in training camp and has given the offense the explosiveness that Urban Meyer wants. He was dealing with an injury that caused him to sit the preseason opener out, but bounce back this week with an impressive stretch of practices. He beat Shaq Griffin for a one-handed 20-plus yard gain on Tuesday and had other standout plays before and afterward. The Jags are going to need him to show up Monday against a Saints team that has a top-10 defense when it comes to the starters. If he can get going, the Jags can get off to a much faster start than they did against the Browns, which is what fans are hoping to see out of the starters and key contributors.
Jun 11, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA;Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (75) gets tangled up with defensive end Lerentee McCray (55) during mandatory minicamp #1 at the Dream Finders Homes practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Many fans weren't impressed with the play of the Jags' starting offensive line and Jawaan Taylor was the most criticized of the starting unit. Meyer even said the staff started the week working with the third-year player, who many feels needs to clean up his footwork. Taylor needs to bounce back on Monday to ease the concerns many have surrounding him, but it won't exactly be easy if the Saints utilize their starting defensive line and second team. Some of their top players include Marcus Davenport, Cameron Jordan, and David Onyemata in the trenches, all of whom make a good group for the Jags' offensive line (not just Taylor) to get reps against.
QB Trevor Lawrence
Aug 14, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands the ball off against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Lawrence's debut grades were a mixed bag, but most can agree he showed poise and good arm strength. However, this week he'll need to work on setting his feet and getting the ball out quickly to take the next step. The Jags have yet to declare a winner for their QB1 job, but most would agree it will eventually be Lawrence's no matter how the staff tries to slice it. According to onlookers and reports coming from camp, he's looked noticeably better than Minshew, and an impressive night against the Saints should only widen the gap.
QB Gardner Minshew II
Aug 14, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) is grabbed by a Cleveland Browns defender during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
While it's been clear who the best quarterback on the roster is, Minshew still has something to potentially gain from having a good preseason showing on Monday. Simply put, that reason is to garner trade interest and maybe land on another team where he could start. That's not to say the Jags should necessarily trade him, but the point is having a bad game as he had against the Browns might not help his chances for a team to wow the Jags with an offer. Simply put, he was outplayed by Lawrence and C.J. Beathard in the process, going 4-of-8 for 47 yards and a pick, which came in a hail-mary-like situation. It's possible the Jags have yet to declare a winner for the QB1 role in an attempt to raise Minshew's stock. If that's the case, it's on Minshew to go out and put together better performances in the spotlight. But even if he was fine with sticking around with the Jags, Saturday's game could be an indication that he may not even be the No. 2 for long in the eyes of the staff.
RB Travis Etienne
May 15, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back runs a play Travis Etienne Jr. during rookie mini camp at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Etienne didn't have the impact most were hoping for in his first game, but he only had 13 snaps to do so. In one of those plays, Minshew overthrew him in the flats, but had he been able to hit Etienne, there was nothing but green in front of the speedster. Etienne was brought in to help the Jags with explosive plays, and with that being the case, hopefully, they will try and get him involved more this week. The opportunities should be there as he could register more than a dozen snaps this time around, which also should help him surpass the one rushing attempt he received, too. One would think Etienne would see more snaps this week, and hopefully, the quarterback play is better on Minshew's end (or whoever is at quarterback while Etienne is in). It would also help his chances to get more carries after just registering one last Saturday.