Who would've thought we would be here four weeks ago?
Denver was always the Jaguars' destination for Week Four of the 2019 season, but the story-lines so far this year have been anything but predictable.
Offense Looks to Keep it Rolling
Fresh off his second, Pepsi Rookie of the Week honor in three weeks, Gardner Minshew leads the Big Cats into Mile High following a 20-7 win over the Tennessee Titans. Minshew's 73.9% completion percentage currently ranks second among NFL starting quarterbacks. The Washington State grad has thrown for five touchdowns in three games this season (two starts) and has not thrown a pick since being thrust into action Week One against the Chiefs, when franchise quarterback Nick Foles suffered a broken collarbone.
Under Minshew and first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the Jaguars have gone from the 28th rated passing attack in the NFL to 6th. The only concern: their supposed "bread and butter" -- the running game, led by former first-round draftee Leonard Fournette -- is ranked 23rd in the league, averaging less than 100 yards per game. If Fournette's 69-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Titans is subtracted from his season stats, he himself is averaging a mere 2.4 yards per carry, a far cry from even the 3.5 yards he averaged in an injury-plagued 2018 season.
The "Jalen Ramsey Saga" has touched down in Denver
As has often become the case with an engaging, Jaguars locker room, the headlines are not just on the field.
The disgruntled All-Pro cornerback traveled with the team by charter plane Saturday following the birth of his second daughter last week. Ramsey had left Jacksonville Wednesday night to be with his family, and reportedly returned to Duval County Friday night.
Ramsey's agent requested a trade from Jacksonville following the Jags' 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans, a game in which Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone were involved in a sideline scuffle. The two-time Pro Bowl'er has maintained that, as long as he remains a Jaguar, he will "give his all" to Jacksonville.
His status for Sunday's game does remain in doubt, as Ramsey also missed practice last week with a back issue and flu-like symptoms.
Is Sacksonville back?
In a literal sense, at the very least, the Mayor of Sacksonville, Calais Campbell, is back in his hometown of Denver. And he's coming off a 3-sack performance against the Titans.
The reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week headlines the NFL's team leader in sacks, who face a quarterback in Joe Flacco who was sacked nine times in Week Three. Jacksonville has tallied 13 official sacks on the season, in addition to multiple quarterback hits.
However, the Big Cats have only recorded one takeaway this year, and it came on special teams. Leon Jacobs recovered a muffed punt return, forced by rookie safety Andrew Wingard, in the first quarter against the Titans. This would set-up Jacksonville's first touchdown of the day; they will need more plays like that from both their defense and special teams going forward.
What to Make of the 0-3 Broncos
All-Pro Von Miller has zero sacks in 2019 after recording 14.5 last season. Second-year defensive end Bradley Chubb has zero sacks in 2019 after recording 12 last season.
There's no way those stats hold, right?
"I got about two hours of sleep last night," Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said Thursday. "A lot of those hours, I lay awake thinking about 58 [Miller] and 55 [Chubb]."
Minshew was not sacked against the Titans in Week Three, but was sacked four times and fumbled thrice against the Texans -- a far-more heralded pass-rushing team.
Despite having play-makers on defense, the Broncos have also yet to record a takeaway. They are the first team in the last 50 years to have no sacks and no takeaways through Week Three. The Broncos are also the eighth team since the 1970 merger to not record a sack heading into Week Four.
The Jaguars and Broncos kick-off Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST and 2:25 p.m. local time. First Coast News has a crew in Denver and will provide updates throughout the day.