There is little to be excited about a game in Week 14 between two under-achieving teams with 4-8 records this Sunday in Jacksonville. But the Los Angeles Chargers make a trip to the east coast and bring with them an offensive arsenal.
Unlike the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chargers have been involved in several close games that have come down to the end. In fact, all of their losses have been within one score. Indeed, a humbling and concerning statistic that showcases the Chargers’ inability to close out games. This includes a three-game skid against divisional rivals like Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos. A trip east to take on the struggling Jaguars could bring things back in order.
However, Minshew Magic, starring quarterback Gardner Minshew, is back in Jacksonville. The Jaguars could find another gear on offense to keep the score close. Nevertheless, in order to have any success against the Chargers, the Jacksonville Jaguars defense will need to stop a star-studded offense led by potential Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers. Not an easy task.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense in Pressure Cooker With Los Angeles Chargers in Town
Running Back Tandem (Linebacker Pressure)
With the return of running back Melvin Gordon in early October, the Chargers have become more balanced. More balanced, not more dynamic. Yet, Gordon has only racked up a single game with over 100 yards rushing. This lack of efficiency seems to favor a defense, even one struggling against the run like the Jaguars. But then there is the other running back, Austin Ekeler.
The inexperience of the Jaguars linebackers could be exploited on Sunday by Ekeler as a receiver out of the backfield. Ekeler is clearly more than just Rivers’ safety valve, he is a weapon. He already has tallied 718 yards and seven touchdowns on 69 catches. He’s certainly on his way to surpassing the 1,000-yard receiving plateau as a running back.
His ability to create space with effective routes coupled with his ability to make a defender miss makes him the X-factor each game. The amount of youth across the linebacker corps will make it difficult for the Jaguars to get off the field on third down if they are unable to cover Ekeler out of the backfield. Ekeler and Gordon will move the chains on short-yardage and leave Minshew on the sideline.
Rivers Royalty (Defensive Backs Pressure)
Perhaps the last quarterback the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars defense wants to see stroll into town is Rivers. Throughout his career, Rivers has blistered the Jaguars for 21 touchdowns with relative ease. Despite his sub-standard 2019 season (17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions), Rivers will be a handful on Sunday for the Jaguars secondary.
Rivers has the weapons to do damage with the long ball, down the seam, and with check downs. Expect him to take full advantage with a talented group of receivers. Led by wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as well as tight end Hunter Henry, the Chargers passing game will be explosive on Sunday.
If the Chargers come out early and jump on the Jaguars there will no longer be a concern on how to deal with Sacksonville. A game plan most opposing teams have utilized against the Jaguars the past two seasons. And the crafty veteran Rivers knows this and will feast again in Jacksonville.
Last Word on Jacksonville Jaguars Defense Facing the Chargers
This week is not a favorable matchup for the Jaguars. Although they host a team with the exact winning percentage, the two teams are miles apart in player personnel. The Chargers have too many offensive stars for the Jaguars defense to cover consistently. Rivers and his crew will overwhelm the inexperience of the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. That means the Jags losing skid will continue and the pressure will continue to rise for the coaching staff and front office.