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"... a measuring stick for the rest of the season." | Quick Thoughts on Week 2, Chiefs vs. Jaguars

Quick Thoughts (pregame)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars as they prepare to play the Kansas City Chiefs at EverBank Stadum Sunday at 1 p.m. in a 2023 Week 2 game

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…

  1. This is big – but not everything. Make no mistake: Sunday's game between the Jaguars and Chiefs is big. It's a matchup of the 2022 AFC South Champion Jaguars and the AFC West/Super Bowl Champion Chiefs – and when defending division champions play, it's big. It could have playoff implications and a victory would give the Jaguars a two-game lead plus a head-to-head tiebreak. But this game is in no way an end-all – and winning would secure the Jaguars nothing. Remember? In 2018? The Jaguars beat a dynastic New England Patriots team to move to 2-0 in an emotional game in Jacksonville, then finished the season 5-11. Sunday's game likely will have a similar atmosphere to that Patriots game, but the thought here is this is one of multiple big games for the Jaguars this season. It's not so much bigger than upcoming matchups against the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. The Jaguars look built to play in a lot of big games moving forward. They must be ready for Sunday, but it really is just the biggest game until the next big game.
  2. Shoot-out likely. This isn't to say the Jaguars' defense won't be a factor Sunday. That unit played well in Week 1 and has been solid-to-at-least-good in the last six or seven games dating to last season. But the Jaguars are unlikely to hold the Chiefs below 20 points no matter how well they play defensively, and that's to be expected when playing a team coached by Andy Reid and quarterbacked by Patrick Mahomes. Here's the thing: This Jaguars team isn't designed to force the defense to hold the Chiefs in the teens or low 20s. When you put quarterback Trevor Lawrence on a team with wide receivers Calvin Ridley/Christian Kirk/Zay Jones, tight end Evan Engram and running backs Travis Etienne Jr./Tank Bigsby, you expect to be able score with the NFL's best offenses and win high-scoring games against the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals and Miami Dolphins. This is the first such test. It's time to see if this offense belongs in the same conversation as the elite.

Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …

  1. It's about the head coach and the quarterback. It has been since the days of Paul Brown and Otto Graham with the 1950s Cleveland Browns, Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr of the 1960s Green Bay Packers, Bill Walsh and Joe Montana of the 1980s San Francisco 49ers all the way to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes of this era's Chiefs. You have a chance to win at a championship level when you have the right combination of the head coach and quarterback. For the first time in Jaguars history, they appear to have an elite head coach AND an elite quarterback at the same time. If the Jaguars are going to beat the Chiefs Sunday and – bigger picture – become a consistently good team, it will come down to Head Coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. I think the Jaguars will win Sunday because Pederson and Lawrence are excellent at what they do – and because they're ready to lift this team to its next level of performance in 2023. To get there, they must get through the best teams in the AFC. It starts with Reid, Mahomes and the Chiefs Sunday.
  2. Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell hasn't shown me his plan for Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce this week, so this is only an opinion. But I believe the Jaguars have a strong option. They have two strong options to try and tackle Kelce. Inside linebacker Devin Lloyd has the size, speed and athleticism to match up with Kelce and this year he believes the game has slowed down dramatically, means he's more prepared to line up against the All-Pro tight end. He isn't likely to see him on every down, which means safety Andre Cisco is up next. Cisco, back after a good first year in the starting lineup in 2022, is bigger than last year. That gives him a chance to fight off the bigger, stronger Kelce. I don't expect Kelce will look quite as good as normal as he tries to work through a painful bone bruise, but even at 75 percent, he's the NFL's best tight end. These two guys should jump at the chance to take the fight to Kelce and set the tempo early. They're both good enough to tackle the challenge.

Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...

  1. Clean it up. Sloppy mistakes were prevalent across the NFL in Week 1, but the Jaguars must play smart football to beat Kansas City. The Jaguars were fortunate against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 that the defense kept them in the game when the offense was stagnant. Turnovers didn't cost them the Indianapolis game, but the Chiefs will take advantage of extra possessions. The Jags must execute their game plan to perfection to beat the Chiefs for the first time since 2009.
  2. Full strength. There will be no asterisk after the final result from Sunday's matchup against the Chiefs because Kansas City is expected to be at full strength. Defensive lineman Chris Jones ending his contract dispute and rejoining the team will pressure the offensive line to protect Lawrence. Kelce will likely be a gametime decision, but Patrick will certainly be more dangerous with his favorite target back on the field. Playing the Chiefs with their best on the field will only benefit the Jags. Even if the Jaguars come up short, they can use this game as a measuring stick for the rest of the season.

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