Behind enemy lines: Cards-Jags preview with Jaguars Wire

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The Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars will play Sunday at 10 a.m. Arizona time in Jacksonville. The Cardinals don’t play the Jags very often and this will only be the sixth game ever between the two teams. The Cardinals have won the last three meetings.

The Cardinals are hopeful they are a playoff team this year. The Jaguars have a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback and seek their first win.

To get some insight about the Jaguars, Jaguars Wire managing editor James Johnson answered some preview questions. The questions and his answers are below.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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Trevor Lawrence

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How does Trevor Lawrence look so far after the offseason, preseason and now the first two games?

He’s been up and down, but I don’t think the staff is doing him a lot of favors, at least not during the regular season. Despite that, though, it does feel like he’s what we thought he was and he reminds fans of this every game by making a highlight throw -- or several.

During the preseason, he didn’t have his starting offensive line intact and it was clear when looking at how he was pressured. Ultimately, he ended things on a high note during the last preseason game (albeit against backups) and only had one incomplete pass out of 11. Then during Week 1’s game of the regular season, he threw three picks that the media realm has made well known, but for each one of those picks, he threw an equally impressive touchdown pass. Then in his last game, he struggled mightily (was 14-of-33) outside of the first drive where he marched the Jags down the field for a touchdown.

Clearly, he has a lot to work on, but at the same time, I think Darrell Bevell and company need to help him out by running the ball more. If they can lower his drop-back rate and get James Robinson about 20 carries, this offense could take off.

Urban Meyer

What are the early returns from Urban Meyer as an NFL head coach?

On the field, the returns haven’t been great, but it’s really hard to jump the gun two games into his career. However, what I will say is he loves the North Florida community, wants to win for them and wants to give the players the best amenities. I think we’re at a point now where it’s starting to look as though the Jags won’t be a quick fix. There are a lot of things he has to get acclimated to on his end after coming from the college realm, and there will be a learning curve in terms of the players learning the new scheme, too.

Key and contributing Jaguars

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Who are the early key and contributing players for Cardinals fans to know this week?

Receiver Marvin Jones Jr. is one of Lawrence’s favorite targets for sure. He leads the team in receptions and receiving yards with 11 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. As a former player of Bevell’s in Detroit, he knows the scheme well and it shows. On defense, I’d say watch rookie safety Andre Cisco. He’s not a starter, yet, but could be soon and his ball-hawking skills will be needed against the Cardinals’ red-hot passing group. I think the player starting in front of him, Andrew Wingard, could struggle against the speed of Arizona’s offense and it could make the Jags go to Cisco earlier than they probably want.

Strengths and weaknesses

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Although it may not help much against the Cardinals, their biggest strength may be their defense against the run. Then again, if they play a disciplined game and are successful on their initial tackles, that could potentially help with Kyler Murray. As for the weaknesses, they have many, but I’m not overly impressed with their secondary and believe they are the biggest weakness right now. Part of what would help them is making Cisco a starter, but the players who have started haven’t played to the level I expected. Shaq Griffin and CJ Henderson (if he’s available from a groin injury) have to step up and haven’t been what fans expected, and veteran safety Rayshawn Jenkins has room to clean up some things, too. Arizona’s receivers corps against the group I just spoke on: the Jags’ secondary. With the potential of Henderson to miss the game and nickelback Tre Herndon dealing with a knee injury that has put his status up in the air, it could get ugly as Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor were very successful against them.

Predictions

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Prediction time: Who wins, what's the score and how does it happen?

This game could end up being hard to watch for Jags fans and I’ll stick with the score I put in USA Today Sports Weekly’s preview, which was 35-24. I will say this, though, I won’t rule out this game being closer if Arizona’s defense plays more like we saw against Minnesota and less like the one we saw against Tennessee.

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