The New York Giants are on the road Sunday to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, we turn to SB Nation’s Big Cat Country for this week’s ‘5 questions.’ Ryan Day of BCC is our huckleberry. So, let’s go.
Ed: What should we make of this Jaguars’ team? Two blowout wins, four one-score losses, including three in a row? What are we looking at?
Ryan: We’re looking at a team in Year 2 of their latest rebuild. (I say “latest” because there have been... quite a few in a row now.) Bobby Bowden was fond of saying that rebuilding football teams had four phases — you lose games in blowouts, you lose games close, you win games close, and then you win games in blowouts. Last year was the blowouts. Last year’s team would be 0-6 at this point, I promise you. Doug Pederson has this team in the second phase of losing close games, and there’s still encouraging things happening on the field. Rookies from several years ago are finally contributing. You can pinpoint which players (ahem... Shaquill Griffin) are contributing most to losses so that you can replace them in the offseason. I still think this team fulfills our realistic expectations and wins 6-7 games by year’s end, with next year being when they turn the page and make a run to sneak into the playoffs.
Ed: After the Urban Meyer Experience, anyone would be an improvement at head coach. What are your feelings about the job Doug Pederson is doing?
Ryan: I think Doug Pederson is a massive upgrade at head coach over Urban Meyer (which isn’t a very high bar) but he’s also been instrumental in getting Trevor Lawrence on an actual development path and he’s got players playing together as a unit. I was lukewarm on Doug Pederson coming to Jacksonville, but now I’m very glad he did. He’s a grown up, and it’s been a while since we’ve had a grown up as head coach, and he’s turned the culture around to where players can develop and contribute.
Ed: Evan Engram was always a polarizing figure with the Giants. How has he done in Jacksonville so far? Are Jags’ fans glad to have him, or growing frustrated with him?
Ryan: He’s been fine. We didn’t have very high expectations for him coming to Jacksonville, so that’s helped him here as opposed to New York where y’all (rightly) had high hopes for your first-round draft pick. He’s been a safety valve for Trevor Lawrence and he’ll likely finish with similar production as he had in 2020 with y’all... with another touchdown or two to show for it. He’s helping us, and we’re helping him hit the reset button. He’s not a long-term fix, but it’s good to have him this year.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants’ roster NOT NAMED Saquon Barkley and put him in Jacksonville’s lineup, who would it be? Why?
Ryan: I’d take Daniel Jones to watch y’all finish out the string with Tyrod Taylor. (I’m joking. Or am I?) My actual answer would be a wide receiver if you had one who would be an upgrade but (*checks stat sheet*) you do not. I’d take whoever your best cover corner is at this point. Would that be Fabian Moreau or Adoree’ Jackson? I’d take them.
Ed: If you are game planning against the Jaguars, how do you attack them on both sides of the ball?
Ryan: On offense, I’d send pressure as often as I could. Trevor Lawrence is still at the point in his development where he’ll make more mistakes under pressure than your typical quarterback. Letting him square his shoulders, set his feet, and zip it would not be a recipe for success. I’m gonna win or lose with added pressures and blitzes. Plus, the Jaguars offensive line stinks out loud in pass protection this season. On defense, I’d throw 20 passes to the receiver that Shaquill Griffin is covering. He’s a liability in the secondary, and probably the biggest reason this Jaguars team is 2-4 rather than 4-2.
BONUS: Your score prediction?
Ryan: I’m going with the Jaguars winning 23-20. I think Trevor Lawrence is better than Daniel Jones, he’s at home, and I think Jacksonville’s run game is really humming. I think they’ll control the clock and while it ends as a one-score game I think that’ll be due to a late touchdown and missed onside kick by the Giants.