The New York Jets head on the road this week to face a feisty, mustached Jacksonville Jaguars team who are 4.5 point favorites. Can they bounce back from their Monday Night embarrassment or are we really about to see this season head off the rails? Here are three things to know about the week 8 matchup…
1 – You Want To Get Nuts? Let’s Get Nuts
So begins the “soft” part of the Jets schedule, with seven straight games against teams highly unlikely to make the 2019 playoffs and four of the seven against the three current worst teams in the NFL (Miami, Cincinnati and Washington). The Jaguars very well may be the toughest of these games, particularly with how their roster is constructed. They have a defensive line that can take advantage of the Jets problems upfront and a downfield threat in DJ Chark who can attack their weaknesses at cornberback (BENCH TRUMAINE JOHNSON, PLEASE AND THANK YOU). Leonard Founette remains a boom or bust week to week player but the Jaguars offense has come a surprisingly long way from their Blake Bortles days, despite rolling with a rookie 6th round quarterback.
All that being said, the pitchforks are really going to come out if the Jets lose this game, particularly if their offense continues to substantially struggle. The Jets have 4 total touchdowns in the 3 games Sam Darnold has played and the 32nd ranked offense in DVOA. If this is a 17-13 loss under a barrage of screen passes, first down dives and turnovers, the release of beating a Dolphins team trying to lose is not going to cool off the pressure on Adam Gase and this coaching staff. The Jets have more talent *on paper* than the Jaguars but Jacksonville has a far superior coaching staff (you are delusional if you think otherwise). Can this staff avoid getting embarrassed for the second week in a row?
2 – This Is Annoying, But…
Rookie edge rusher Josh Allen, who some of us very much liked as a target with the third overall pick, has already compiled 5 sacks in his first 6 career games. It is so, so, so early but it is okay to be frustrated watching this rookie edge class dominate while Quinnen Williams has been good at times but overall inconsistent and banged up through his first six games. Again, it is early! Quinnen may be an All-Pro but god it would be nice to have an edge with 5 sacks already this season….
….Also Jacksonville lost their starting quarterback in the first quarter of the season, has transitioned to a rookie 6th rounder and has kept their season on the rails. Through 6+ games, Garner Minshew has racked up 10 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions, with a 7.5 YPA and maintaining a completion percentage over 60. He has also racked up 173 rushing yards. The kid has been impressive and the Jaguars coaching staff has done a good job acclimating to his game on the fly. The Jets have to do a better job than they did against Josh Allen of preventing him from scrambling and must find a way to generate some type of consistent pass rush…that involves sacks to push him out of rhythm.
3 – Simmer Down Sam
I am a pragmatist when it comes to this franchise and their general awfulness the past 9 seasons. I don’t give them the benefit of the doubt on anything because they haven’t earned it. I think their coaching staff stinks. I think their last GM was an abomination. I think most of their roster is overrated by the fan base and I am dead tired of watching Leonard Williams, Trumaine Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Brian Winters and Ryan Kalil among others. HOWEVER, I still think Sam Darnold is ultimately going to be a #good quarterback for this franchise and is here for the long haul. Last week was a disaster. There will be other bad games but on the whole, I think we will see more good than bad the rest of the way and not have an iota of a doubt he is the team’s quarterback for the rest of his rookie contract at the season’s end.