The Jacksonville Jaguars are on primetime television, tonight! Better than that, it’s not against the Titans! Even better, they wont be wearing those stupid mustard-orange color rush uniforms! Duval fans, it’s Teal Out against the Miami Dolphins. Both teams are obviously coming off of a short week and are dealing with some injuries. WR DJ Chark will NOT play tonight. Also, expect the Jaguars to be very aggressive on any 4th-and-short situations inside the opposing 35-yard line without captain Josh Lambo. So, let’s see how this match-up shakes out.
Time, Location Etc…
The Jacksonville Jaguars are scheduled to host the Miami Dolphins in Jacksonville, Florida at TIAA Bank Field on Thursday, September 24th, 2020, at 8:20 PM ET. Both teams are on a short week, though neither has to travel through a time zone, and the trip for Miami is relatively short. The weather forecast is a cloudy but dry night, with winds up to 10 MPH. Humidity will still be around 77% at kickoff. It’s going to be a beautiful night for football in Jacksonville, so fans better show up and show out!
Tale of the Tape
Miami Dolphins (0-2): The Dolphins have started their season with back to back losses inside the division. The big story has been, and will remain, when will it be Tua Time? The bearded Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick and his own form of magic is still clinging to the starting position. Miami is a well-coached team who plays above its collective talent. The weak link in 2020, thus far, has been the secondary, giving Bills QB Josh Allen a career day on Sunday. The Dolphins have lost two-straight against Jacksonville and enter the game as three-point underdogs.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1): Coming off of a narrow loss in Nashville, the perception around this team has begun to change. The defense is bad, but the offense, led by the charismatic mustache Gardner Minshew, has this team feeling confident. The running game has been productive while being led by UDFA James Robinson. The roster is the youngest in the league, but the rookies have been productive. The Jaguars have won two-straight over Miami and own the all-time advantage, 5-4. Jacksonville is favored to win a game for the first time this season.
Head to Head
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Todd Wash – I really want to give this to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ much-maligned defensive coordinator. I really do. I can’t. Until he shows that he is willing to adapt from the Cover-3 scheme he is so loyal to, he’s going to lose this every single week. This Jaguars front cannot generate a pass rush, evidenced by two sacks in as many games. One of those sacks came from Myles Jack on a weird play featuring Jacoby Brissett in the season opener; the other came from rookie K’Lavon Chaisson on a play that was a blitz. Wash must adapt to the personnel he has, and quit trying to force square pegs into round holes, so to speak. The defense is young, but they are athletic. Playing more man-to-man coverage and bringing pressure in a variety of creative blitzes — and accepting the negative plays they would induce — is preferable to allowing quarterbacks to shred the defense from a clean pocket. Fitzpatrick can be forced into turnover-worthy plays if pressured. DO IT (he won’t). Edge: Dolphins
Miami Offensive Line vs. Jacksonville Defensive Line – This is actually an interesting litmus test for the Jaguars’ front. Rookie Austin Jackson should give Josh Allen opportunities. Ereck Flowers is better as a guard than tackle, but that’s not saying a whole hell of a lot. On paper, this should be an advantage for the good guys, but it’s not one until they prove it is. Edge: Even
Miami Skill Positions vs. Jacksonville Coverage – The Dolphins are not without talent. DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki jump off out as guys the Jaguars defense must account for every play. Given the play of rookie CJ Henderson and the resurgence Myles Jack has had in playing Will-linebacker, I’m chalking this one up as a win. Edge: Jaguars
Gardner Minshew vs. Josh Boyer – New DC Josh Boyer is, undoubtedly, going into the game with a plan to take away Minshew’s strengths; I’m just not sure how successful it will be. Minshew looks at home in the West Coast scheme deployed by Jay Gruden, and even without Chark’s presence outside, I don’t expect his confidence to wane. The play of Minshew, right now, is almost too good to be true, but he’s made a career of defying the odds. As someone who gave the enigmatic signal-caller a second-round grade coming out of Washington State, I’m a big believer in the staying power of Minshew Mania. Edge: Jaguars
Jaguars Offensive Line vs. Dolphins Defensive Line – One of the biggest offseason storylines surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars was the front office’s confidence in the offensive line’s ability to improve in 2020. Through two games, that confidence seems well-deserved. RT Jawaan Taylor is developing rapidly, LT Cam Robinson is playing much better than he did a year ago and LG Andrew Norwell is finally playing consistent ball. Center Brandon Linder is OUT for this game, and he is the Jaguars’ best starter across the line. Look for the Dolphins to try and confuse backup Tyler Shatley. I feel comfortable with how this stacks up. Edge: Jaguars
Jaguars Skill Positions vs. Dolphins Coverage – Again, I feel confident in this match-up. The Jaguars have been able to move the ball consistently against two defenses far better than the Dolphins, who are playing tonight without Byron Jones. Receivers should get open, and Minshew is primed for another big performance in the spotlight. Edge: Jaguars
What Must Happen
- Pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick. The very entertaining Ryan Fitzpatrick is who he is. He can shred defenses any given Sunday. He can also make boneheaded decisions under duress. The Jaguars cannot afford to let him sit back and operate from a clean pocket.
- Win the turnover battle. This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. The defense isn’t very good, but they have shown to be opportunistic. It’s fine that they give up points; it’s to be expected. Give the offense a short field a time or two with momentum changing plays.
- Balance is key. James Robinson is a bona fide starting running back. Gardner Minshew is deadly accurate and decisive from the pocket with the short passing game. The receivers have shown the ability to take the top off of defenses and make plays on the deep pass, which Minshew has shown extraordinary touch when attempting. Utilize all three, and keep the Dolphins defense on its heels all night long.
- Taven Bryan vs. Ereck Flowers
- Cam Robinson vs. Emmanuel Ogbah
- Myles Jack vs. Mike Gesicki
Duval faithful, show up. Take advantage of the fact that you are able to. Cheer on the good guys, because they are taking home a win to move to 2-1 on the season. It’s likely to be close and high-scoring, but I expect Minshew & Co. to get the job done. Fitzpatrick throws for 300+ and three touchdowns, but adds two critical interceptions. Minshew tosses four touchdowns tonight.
Official Prediction: Jaguars win, 35-31.