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Lions vs. Jaguars Week 6 preview: 5 Questions With Big Cat Country

Get to know the Lions Week 6 opponent

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Haha, the guy’s got a mustache. Let’s make a big deal about it. Alright, Detroit Lions fans. It’s probably clear at this point that we’re super happy to have Lions football back after the nonstop roller coaster of fun from hell that we’ve experienced in the 2020 season thus far.

Speaking of fun, this week the Lions are heading to the place everyone wants to be right now. No, not a beach in Jamaica. I’m talking about a place where people throw alligators in the drive thru window at Wendy’s. That’s right, I’m talking Florida.

The good news is that the Lions won’t be playing the alligators, they’re taking on the Jaguars and Gardner Minshew, a quarterback who’s a pair of Zubaz pants and pack of Pall Malls away from being a quarterback from 1987. It should be fun.

The Jaguars are just about as bad as the Lions are. This season they’ve given three of their five opponents their first win of the year. In two of those cases they’ve given their opponents their only win of the season.

What’s going on with this team? We needed to hear it from the Jaguars’ mouth. So we reached out to our friend, and fellow Sparty, Ryan O’Bleness of Big Cat Country. Here’s what he had to say:

1. The Jags have given three teams their first win this season. What’s going on in Jacksonville?

“It’s quite incredible, actually, but apparently the Jaguars are the first team in NFL history to lose three-straight games in a season to winless teams:

I think first and foremost, the Jaguars are extremely young and inexperienced — the youngest team in the league, in fact. There is talent there, and there is effort there, but the current roster simply is not built to compete right now. I think the Jaguars caught the Indianapolis Colts off guard in the opening game of the 2020 season, following the strange offseason and lack of preseason, and Jacksonville was able to steal one. In the second week, Jacksonville’s offense looked strong against a good Tennessee Titans team, but the defense had a lot of issues and the Jags fell just short in that contest. Since then, though, the Jaguars have struggled against teams that aren’t very good — the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans (although, I think Houston’s 0-4 start was due to a tough opening schedule and the drama going on with Bill O’Brien).

There has also been some questionable play-calling on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash rarely uses blitzes and the Jaguars aren’t getting a lot of sacks or pressure. Again, the unit is young, but outside of guys like Myles Jack, Jacksonville’s defensive unit has struggled mightily. Although, it was actually the offense that faltered last week against the Texans with a couple of turnovers. The defense, playing banged up without Jack, rookie cornerback CJ Henderson and others, actually played much better.

The Jaguars were a team everyone thought was tanking going into the season. I don’t necessarily think that is the case — at least not for the players or coaches — but, simply put, the team just isn’t quite ready to compete yet. The future looks bright, though, with 16 rookies currently on the 53-man roster and a lot more draft picks, including two first-rounders, in the 2021 NFL Draft. “

2. What are the Jags’ strengths?

“Undrafted free agent running back James Robinson has been a pleasant surprise. The Jaguars’ run game is much stronger now because of him, and he also can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s not afraid to run you over or run around you. Due to Robinson’s emergence, the team was comfortable moving on from Leonard Fournette.

Unfortunately, the Jaguars have been playing from behind several weeks in a row, and due to game script, Robinson hasn’t been involved late in games. I think the more the Jaguars can give the ball to Robinson, grind clock, and open up things for Gardner Minshew in the passing game, the better Jacksonville is set up for success. The Jaguars have also been fairly successful on first down in both the run and the pass game.

I mentioned Myles Jack above. He missed last week’s game, but returned to practice in a limited capacity this week. He’s been one of the few bright spots on the defense, playing at pretty much an All-Pro level early in the season. “

3. What are their weaknesses?

“Where do I begin? I mentioned the youth, but most of Jacksonville’s issues stem on the defensive side of the football. The team struggles to get to the quarterback, with only five sacks registered so far this season. Jacksonville allows 416.8 yards per game overall (29th in the NFL), 280.2 passing yards per game (28th), 136.6 rushing yards per game (26th) and 29.4 points per game (24th). Meanwhile, offensively, they’re only scoring 21.8 points per game, which ranks 26th.

Third down needs to be better on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Jags need to do a better job of getting off of the field on third down. Offensively, the Jaguars need to sustain drives a little bit better, and again, score more points — which is the name of the game.

Minshew could also improve on his decision-making late in games, and needs to hold onto the ball better — fumbles have been an issue with him so far early in his career.”

4. How many losses before Minshew shaves off the mustache?

“Haha, that’s his signature. I don’t think we will be seeing the glorious mustache go away any time soon, unless it’s possibly for some sort of charity event. If the Jaguars end up going 1-15 or 2-14, and Minshew finds himself out of a job, then perhaps he’ll look to change up his style if he goes to a new city. I am hoping that is not the case.”

5. Who’s winning this thing?

“I expect this to be a close game throughout. But I cannot trust the Lions to keep a fourth quarter lead — as both a Lions and Jaguars fan I try to see both sides clearly. Jaguars win late. Perhaps the final score is something ridiculously close, like 28-27, but a battle between two desperate one-win teams can really go a lot of different ways. I predict a competitive game, but this will simply come down to which team wants it more.”

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