Even if Dallas wide receivers finally get on the same page as quarterback Dak Prescott, the elite Jacksonville secondary is waiting to put them through the shredder on Sunday in Arlington, Texas.
The Jaguars (3-2) have the NFL’s No. 1-ranked pass defense, allowing just 191.0 yards per game and a league-low three touchdown passes in five games.
The Cowboys (2-3) rank 30th in the NFL in passing with 172.0 yards per game, and Prescott has thrown only three TD passes to his wide receivers.
“We’ve just got to get on the same page across the board and play to the standard that we’re capable of,” said Dallas receiver Allen Hurns, who played for Jacksonville from 2014-17.
Hurns, who tallied 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Jaguars in 2015, has eight catches for 84 yards and one score this season. The Cowboys’ leading receiver is Cole Beasley with 193 yards — tied for 79th in the NFL.
Prescott was just 6 for 16 for 80 yards with two interceptions when targeting his wide receivers during last week’s 19-16 overtime loss to Houston Texans. And that was against a banged-up secondary, not the elite unit that Jacksonville brings to AT&T Stadium.
Anchored by Pro Bowl cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, the Jaguars allow just 6.3 yards per pass attempt. Only the Baltimore Ravens are stingier, at 5.9 per attempt.
Two of the three TD passes they allowed this year were to Canton-bound Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, a game Jacksonville won 31-20 in Week 2. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes entered last week’s game against the Jaguars with 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions; he left the Chiefs’ 30-14 win with 14 touchdowns and two picks.
“They’re a very confident group across the board on defense. They play as one,” Hurns said. “The main thing for us is we can’t get caught up in what they’re doing.”
One thing the Jaguars won’t be doing Sunday is handing off to Leonard Fournette, who is sidelined by a hamstring injury. Jacksonville signed 31-year-old free agent Jamaal Charles, a Texas native and former University of Texas standout, on Tuesday.
“You can still see some of the explosiveness and some of the cuts and the vision,” Jags quarterback Blake Bortles said of Charles. “We’re excited to have him and I’m excited to watch him play.”
Jacksonville cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) and offensive tackle Josh Wells (groin) will not play Sunday, and Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) will miss his third straight game. Dallas pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday, but his absence was regarded as precautionary.