No. 4 – Engram and Shepard must step up
You don’t have to have the coaching acumen of Vince Lombardi to figure out that Marrone will use his All-Pro cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, to shadow Beckham the entire game. I do have confidence that OBJ can get the better of Jalen on some routes, but the windows will not always be there for Manning considering safeties will likely shade to Beckham’s side also.
That means No. 2 wideout Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram should see an uptick in targets. Shepard’s matchup won’t be easy either as he’ll draw Pro Bowler A.J. Bouye, who thrives as a slot cover-man.
Assuming Shep can get free on underneath crossing routes and stretch Bouye horizontally in man-to-man situations, Engram can find spaces to sit in the defense or get vertical. Despite suffering a concussion against the New York Jets in Week 3 of the preseason, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan expects the sophomore to be full-go this weekend (h/t Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels).
Credit Jacksonville’s linebackers Myles Jack and Telvin Smith, who are particularly stingy against the pass, but they will have to play a step up with Barkley being a constant threat in the running game.
There are only so many bodies that they can cover.