Four factors: How the Jaguars can beat the Cardinals and end their losing skid

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) fakes a handoff to running back James Robinson (25) as Denver Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson (45) watches during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It feels like forever since the Jaguars have won a game. They have not won a game since Sept. 13, 2020. Maybe this is the week they break the streak and get back in the win column. The Arizona Cardinals (2-0) are coming to town, so it won’t be an easy game.

In Week 1, the Cardinals’ defense carried them past the Titans. In Week 2, it was Kyler Murray and the offense that got the job done against the Vikings.

The Jaguars have struggled in the first two weeks of the season on both sides of the ball. But look on the bright side, they are making progress.

In Week 2, the Jaguars’ defense looked much improved. While the offense looked immaculate as they drove down the field for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. Urban Meyer will be hoping for a much longer list of positives this week. But here are the Big Four that they will need if the Jaguars are going to walk out of the Bank on Sunday with a win.

Avoid the offensive ‘lull’

After the loss to the Broncos, Marvin Jones said the offense got stuck in a “lull” after the first drive. Lull is putting it nicely. After that first drive, the offense was nonexistent. That has got to get corrected. The fast start is great, but that momentum needs to carry throughout the game. The offensive struggles aren’t all on Trevor Lawrence. On Thursday, Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said, “Trevor Lawrence is going to be fine.”

That sums it up perfectly. Trevor will be fine.

The biggest problem on the offense is the cast around Lawrence has not played winning football. Lawrence needs help. The easiest way is for Bevell to dial up James Robinson and the running game. But as long as they can keep up the offensive pressure throughout the game it doesn’t matter how they do it.

Get a turnover

The Jaguars are one of only two teams in the NFL that have not gotten a turnover this season. The only other team is the Philadelphia Eagles. That has to change. Shaq Griffin has gotten his hands on passes in both games to start the year but has not been able to finish the play.

That is not to point the finger at Griffin to say he is at fault but it is something that the entire defense has to work together to improve at. Meyer said what this team needs is a “spark” and things could turn around. Well, turnovers can often be that spark. Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen said “we just need one we don’t need two or three, you need one to get the fan base going crazy. “We need one to ignite the whole team.”

If there is one weakness to Murray’s game it is that he will give the defense a chance to cause turnovers. Through two games, Murray has thrown three interceptions.

Win upfront

After a rough Week 1, the offensive line took a big step forward protecting Lawrence against the Broncos. They were able to keep Von Miller and Bradley Chubb (before the injury) mostly under control. Well, they need to carry that momentum into this week because the Cardinals pass rush can cause problems.

“It is what have you done for me lately,” Bevell said. “We have a huge challenge this week.”

Just ask Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan. Lewan got beaten so badly in Week 1 he took to Twitter to apologize to Titans fans. Chandler Jones can make any tackle in the NFL look silly. Jones is one of the top pass rushers in the game. If Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor aren’t ready to go, Jones is a player that can single-handedly wreck a game plan.

Bottle up Kyler

It is three easy words, but it is very hard to execute on the football field. Murray is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the NFL. He can beat defenses with both his arm and his legs. If the Jaguars want to have a chance, they can’t let this guy get into a groove.

That is a particularly difficult challenge for a defense that has played almost exclusively man coverage through the first two weeks of the season.

“You don’t want to have your back turned all the time,” Cullen said. “It is about seeing it and having zone eyes.”

It is unlikely the Jaguars will change their man coverage philosophy but that will give Murray some opportunities to tuck the ball and run. Cullen knows a thing or two about quarterbacks that can run. He spent the past few years in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson. Maybe that practice time has helped him come up with the secret to stopping athletic quarterbacks.

“It helped, but I don’t know how much help it gave us,” he said.

OK, maybe he doesn’t have the secret game plan, but if the Jaguars can just make things difficult on Murray — going back to an above point — and get a turnover then they will have a chance in the game.


About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.