The Los Angeles Chargers go into Week 7 coming off their unexpected bye (thanks to some wacky rescheduling) with a 1-4 record to face Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Considering that in three of his first four starts Justin Herbert had to face the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, playing a 1-5 team may feel like a breath of fresh air. And there are certainly reasons the Jaguars are 1-5 – namely, their defense. Herbert should be able to shred this defense to pieces. However, as a team unit, this team shouldn’t sleep on this team just because they’re 1-5 and have a bad defense.
Los Angeles Chargers Defense Can’t Sleep on Gardner Minshew
The Gardner Minshew Effect
If there’s one thing that’s been keeping the Jaguars in their games, it’s Gardner Minshew. Despite having to deal with a very shaky team his first two years, he’s played fairly well most of the time. His rookie year saw him pass for 21 touchdowns and six interceptions, and so far this year he has 1,682 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions, and one rushing touchdown.
Even despite his efforts in some of his better games, most of the Jaguars games have not been particularly close. But he’s been the primary reason that they’re not 0-6 and losing all of their games in blowouts. They did manage to get an unexpected win in Week 1 over the Indianapolis Colts and gave the Tennessee Titans a scare as well. While it helped that the running game was unexpectedly effective earlier in the season too, Minshew can still make plays given the opportunity.
An Injured Defense
The Chargers have had an interesting year on defense. They shut down Patrick Mahomes for three quarters and didn’t allow more than 23 points their first three games, but it’s gotten shakier since – thanks in part to the injuries. They’re missing Derwin James and (temporarily) Chris Harris in the secondary, and the backups have been inconsistent. Both Nasir Adderley and Michael Davis got an interception in Weeks 4 and 5 respectively en route to building 17-point leads against Brady and Brees, only for the team squander both leads and have the defense get shredded by 40+-year-old quarterbacks.
Obviously, Minshew isn’t as good as either of those quarterbacks – and the Jaguars aren’t as good a team. But the issue still remains that the Chargers defense has been quite shaky lately, particularly in the second half. And it’s not like Minshew can’t toss the rock himself. If the Chargers build another big lead (which shouldn’t be too difficult) and take their foot off the gas or get too comfortable (which has also been an issue), they could find the Jaguars fighting their way back into the game again. And we’ve seen how that’s gone.
By all rights, the Chargers should be able to win this game easily – in fact, it’s their easiest opponent since Week 1 when they played the Cincinnati Bengals. As previously stated, Justin Herbert should be able to tear this defense to pieces. And if the Jaguars aren’t able to get a running game going, that ought to make things easier on the secondary. But it’s hard to imagine Chargers fans feeling very comfortable with non-insurmountable leads right now. Maybe the bye week will have done them some good in this regard. Regardless, the Chargers can’t sleep on Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars just because they’re 1-5.
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