The Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off Week 4 in primetime fashion on Thursday night. This contest may not appear to be the most appetizing on paper, but several impressive rookies will take the field, including a pair of highly touted first-rounders that are currently experiencing contrasting starts to their lives in the NFL.
Several intriguing topics and future talking points will be birthed at the conclusion of this contest. Here are three situations especially worth monitoring.
CAN JA’MARR CHASE KEEP IT UP?
The preseason was much ado about nothing, wasn’t it? Chase struggled with drops throughout the preseason and training camp, creating much chatter regarding his early form. All the concerns and unnecessary forecasting feels like a century ago, as Chase’s NFL career is now off to a red-hot start. In fact, our own Jack McKessy recently wrote an excellent story on why Chase is proving we should avoid overreacting to what happens in the meaningless months of the NFL calendar.
Chase was just named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for September, and deservingly so. Chase has been absolutely dominant in his first official month, racking up 230 yards and four touchdowns on 11 catches through three weeks. Chase is the youngest player in NFL history with four receiving touchdowns in his first three games. Need I say more?
Chase will face a horrid Jaguars defense on Thursday that’s currently conceding 30.3 points and 418 yards per contest. Chase should get an excellent opportunity to carry his historical start past the Week 4 mark.
CAN TREVOR LAWRENCE CUT DOWN ON THE TURNOVERS?
From one promising and exciting first-year player to another, Lawrence has found life in the NFL much more difficult than the rookie counterpart he’ll share a field with on Thursday. Quite possibly the most heralded quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, Lawrence is off to a slow start, proving that adjusting to the NFL is a difficult task for almost any young gun-slinger.
Lawrence has thrown a whopping seven interceptions in his first three career games. He’s also lost two fumbles, bringing his weekly average to an unacceptable and surprising three turnovers per game.
Urban Meyer and the Jaguars need to provide Lawrence with a better support system than they have through three weeks. Our own Ryan Fowler recently wrote an excellent in-depth piece regarding how the Jaguars are failing to provide their young quarterback with the proper environment for success. As far as self-reflection goes, Lawrence has to show growth by doing a better job of holding onto the football.
CAN URBAN MEYER WIN HIS FIRST CAREER NFL GAME?
Meyer, who is still waiting for his first career win as an NFL head coach, has often made headlines for all the wrong reasons in his short tenure as Jacksonville’s lead man. Meyer can turn some of those negatives into a positive by securing a win against the Bengals on Thursday night.
The Jaguars weren’t truly competitive in their first two losses of the season but showed a glimmer of hope in Week 3’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Jacksonville held a 19-10 advantage late in the third quarter, but things quickly spiraled out of control as the Cardinals ended up rounding off 21 straight second-half points to ultimately secure a 31-19 victory.
It wasn’t a win, but perhaps it signified the progress Meyer and Co. are looking for. Did the Jaguars learn anything from that experience? We’ll learn a lot about them depending on how they follow up that performance in primetime on Thursday night.