When I found out that DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon would be paired together in Washington this season I thought that Robert Griffin III would re-emerge from his sophomore slump with pizzazz. While the two talented receivers caught a combined 18 balls last Sunday against the Houston Texans, neither of them saw the endzone and Jackson’s 17 yard reception was the longest of those 18 catches. Jackson is an explosive player and Garcon is a ridiculously productive and reliable receiver. Let’s chalk last week’s game up as a fluke.
So, how will the Jacksonville Jaguars cover Jackson and Pierre Garcon?
Honestly, I’m a bit more concerned than I was heading into the season.
I’m incredibly confident that starters like Dwayne Gratz, Winston Guy, Alan Ball, and Jonathan Cyprien can cover these guys. But injuries and a lack of depth will rear their ugly heads on Sunday. Cyprien is questionable with a concussion which means that Chris Prosinski will see more playing time at safety, which is bad for everyone. Fellow backup safety Josh Evans was a problem as well. Another concern is cornerback Will Blackmon, who allowed all six of the balls thrown his way to be completed against the Eagles.
The Jaguars desperately need players to step up when called upon. Whoever fills in for Cyprien needs to prove his worth in coverage over the top and whoever steps in on nickel packages or other increased defensive back packages needs to show that they deserve to be on the field. Garcon and Jackson are too good for the Jaguars to just let run around like they did on Jeremy Maclin’s monster touchdown grab last week. Hopefully Gratz and Ball will be able to shut them down, but they simply aren’t Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman (unfortunately).
Fortunately, I think the Jaguars’ defensive line will ease some of the strain on the shallow backfield. The linemen showed that they are able to get after the quarterback in last week’s loss to the Eagles. I expect more of the same against the Redskins and that should help the defensive secondary in their coverage responsibilities. If the defensive line is able to make Griffin look like he did last week then the Jags should be in good shape. But if they aren’t able to, then Jackson and Garcon will become a lot more dangerous.
Expect Griffin to look to exploit the shallow depth of the Jaguars secondary when possible.