5 players to watch in Jaguars vs. Commanders

·4 min read

The Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off their regular season on the road tomorrow against the Washington Commanders. Both teams are in the midst of rebuilds, seeking to prove that they can be contenders in 2022 after disappointing campaigns last year.

This game will be a good test for the Jaguars, and with several key matchups set to determine the outcome, five players, in particular, are set to make or break Jacksonville’s hopes of getting their campaign off to a fast start.

Here are the players to keep your eye on in the Week 1 tilt:

QB Trevor Lawrence

 

Lawrence has a lot to prove at the NFL level, even if his team’s failures last year weren’t entirely his fault. The pedigree he brought into the league when he was drafted first overall is undeniable. As one of the most successful quarterbacks in the history of college football, Lawrence clearly has all the tools to succeed in the professional game but needs to dial his gifts in this season to win games and get the Jaguars out of last place.

That all starts with a win against the Commanders, who should be a beatable team for this talented Jacksonville squad. Washington’s defense is capable enough to make sure the game doesn’t turn into a blowout in the Jaguars’ favor, but Lawrence should have an opportunity to make some game-breaking plays if his preparation for the matchup lives up to the comments he made during media availability this week.

S Andre Cisco

Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz is going to make every effort to take the top off of Jacksonville’s defense, and Cisco will be the safety valve in the secondary when receivers are targeted deep. The Jaguars have quietly placed their trust in him to be the team’s full-time starter after only three starts as a rookie last year, so his role will be crucial if they intend to win in Week 1.

Receiver “Scary” Terry McLaurin will be a threat for Cisco on every down, and the Jaguars’ defense could do everything right and still get gashed if he doesn’t have a plan in place to limit the pass-catcher’s production. Carson Wentz might not be a superstar like he was in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, but Cisco would be wise to make every effort to give him few opportunities to get in rhythm with McLaurin.

 

WR Christian Kirk

Jacksonville gave Kirk an immense amount of money in the offseason, and he will need to justify his out-sized contract starting in this matchup. Anything less than about 70-yards and a touchdown will be considered a failure for Kirk, even if only because of his whopping cap hit which rivals that of All-Pro receivers around the league.

The Jaguars brought Kirk in to make Trevor Lawrence’s job as easy as possible, and for better or worse, the contract he signed will necessitate that he becomes a superstar this season. He has plenty of experience as a competent target from his time with the Arizona Cardinals but has never had a breakout season that would be considered commensurate with his massive payday in the offseason.

LB Devin Lloyd

The hype behind Lloyd is reaching a tipping point, and the Jaguars will need him to play smart football in his first snaps in the NFL. He missed most of the preseason due to injury, so the learning curve of the regular season will likely be a monumental challenge as he’ll be thrown in the fire without the benefit of proper preparation.

Lloyd’s natural talent warranted his selection in the first round of April’s draft, and it is expected that he’ll be able to make his abilities translate to the NFL quickly. He will have the benefit of Foyesade Oluokun playing next to him at inside linebacker in the Jaguars’ 3-4 defense but will have to make some big plays by himself to show fans how capable he truly is.

G Brandon Scherff

Washington’s front seven is among the best in the NFL, even if former first-overall pick Chase Young isn’t on the field. Scherff will be responsible for keeping his quarterback upright against them, and with experience playing against the Commanders in practice from his time spent in Washington, he should have a good idea of what it will take to get the job done.

He told reporters this week about the challenge of playing such a capable defensive line and made certain that he didn’t undersell the talents of his former teammates. It will take a team effort from Jacksonville’s offensive line to make sure this game doesn’t turn into a bloodbath, but under Scherff’s direction, they might be able to escape this matchup unscathed.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire