Coming off two wins in their last three contests, the Jaguars traveled to Indy, riding a newfound wave of confidence. But in the end, their division rival Colts outlasted these young Jags 23-17.
Here are my top takeaways.
A Disastrous Start
The Jaguars' defense struggled to keep Jonathan Taylor in check on the Colts' first drive of the game. But they still kept JT and the Colts out of the endzone, standing firm close to the goals line. But after a non-descript three and out from the Jaguars on the ensuing drive, linebacker Chappelle Russell missed an assignment in punt protection, leading to a block and score by the Colts. After another three and out by the Jaguars' offense, the Colts got the ball with excellent field position, and another healthy dose of Jonathan Taylor led to the first offensive touchdown of the game. Going down 17-0 in the first quarter isn't exactly a recipe for success, especially for a young team still struggling to find themselves on offense. The Jaguars continued to scratch and claw their way back into this one, but it wasn't enough against a veteran Colts' squad. There will likely be a time in the near future when 17-0 doesn't feel like an insurmountable for Trevor Lawrence and this offense, but we aren't anywhere close to that yet.
The Price is Wrong
Matty Ice has had some big-time moments for the Jaguars this year. But he isn't bringing the consistency to the kicking game that this team needs to win. This performance was kind of a microcosm of his year. He drilled a 56-yarder but also missed a PAT and a 51-yard attempt in the second half. The Jaguars will likely need to continue searching for a more consistent kicker throughout the remainder of the season and into the offseason.
Tyson Campbell's rookie year got off to a rough start, to put it mildly. But over the last two contests, as defensive coordinator Joe Cullen has mixed in more zone coverages, Campbell has begun to look the part. Against the Colts, he allowed just three completions for 28 yards on six targets in primary coverage. He broke up a pass intended for TY Hilton on third and four, helping get his defense off the field. In the last two games, Campbell has allowed a completion percentage in primary coverage of just 55.
James Robinson: Offensive Engine
I've been referring to Robinson as the Jaguars' offensive engine over the last few weeks. Without that engine, this offense fails to get started. The bruising back toughed it out through a heel injury this week but was limited throughout the contest. But when he was in the game, J-Rob helped his offense move the ball. The second-year back still carried the ball 12 times for 57 yards and scored a goal-line touchdown. He also caught four of five targets for 27 yards. Assuming Robinson is close to full health next week, the Jaguars' offense will need to feature him even more.
Allen somehow didn't record a sack on Sunday. Still, he made Carson Wentz's job incredibly difficult. Allen hit Wentz three times and recorded nine total pressures, helping hold the Colts' passing offense in check. Wentz threw the ball 34 times for just 180 yards with no scores and a QBR of 23.7. Josh Allen was a big reason why. He continues to play at a Pro Bowl level week in and week out, both as a pass rusher, run defender, and space player.
The Jaguars finally figured out how to use former first-round pick Taven Bryan. He's a role player and nothing more. But his role is a valuable one: interior pass rusher. They've allowed him to get in the game on passing downs and pin his ears back. After a two-sack performance against the Bills, Taven Bryan hit Carson Wentz twice in 16 pass-rush snaps this week. If the Jaguars can continue to get him on the field in obvious passing situations, it appears Bryan might find his place in this league after all.
Myles Jack Playing His Best
No green dot, no problems for Myles Jack. Since giving up the play-communicating duties, Jack has unsurprisingly morphed back into the star linebacker we all saw in 2020. He's back on his game, making plays in pass coverage, erasing ball carriers with good angles and strong tackling, and helping this defense in every conceivable way. It's a joy to see.
Trevor Lawrence, Receivers Can't Establish Connection
On the first third down of the game, Trevor Lawrence threw what looked like a very catchable ball for Dan Arnold, who would have had first down yardage, but Arnold failed to locate the pass on time, and the ball fell harmlessly to the turf. On the second third down of the game, Trevor launched a shot deep down the left side for Jamal Agnew, who made an impressive play on the ball but was unable to control it as he fell to the ground. Unfortunately, the connection continued to appear severed throughout the contest. Lawrence forced some throws, receivers continued to run the wrong routes, drop passes, and the offense struggled to find any consistency.
It wasn't all bad for Trevor. He showed off his wheels a bit, running the ball five times for 33 yards. He also made a few top 1% throws, a couple of which were dropped. Late in the second quarter, he put together a one-minute scoring drive, using his legs to pick up yards and his arm to layer a shot to Dan Arnold down the field. He got the team in field goal range, and Matthew Wright converted to end the half. Trevor delivered a hand full of highlight-reel plays in the second half, but the inconsistency from those around him, and at times his own struggles, ultimately doomed the offense.
I can't figure out why the Jaguars' defensive staff insists on playing Andrew Wingard. Against the two best backs the Jaguars have faced this year, he's been listless in pursuit. He missed four tackles yesterday and was regularly slow to his spot in coverage. Andre Cisco is a physically imposing, ball hawking rookie. Put the kid in the game.
Time to Get Viska, Jamal More Back Field Snaps
James Robinson, when healthy, needs the ball, like a ton. But at this point, if you're going to hand the ball to anyone else, why not Laviska Shenault and Jamal Agnew? They both look more adept at making plays with the ball in their hand than Carlos Hyde. Hyde was unimpressive against the Colts and coughed up the ball the week prior against the Bills. He was on the field for 18 plays Sunday. If I'm Darrell Bevell, that number is shrinking moving forward, regardless of James Robinson's health.
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