Eighteen straight losses for the franchise. Three straights losses for the current regime. The Jaguars played the Cardinals tough in a 31-19 loss and appeared to control the game, if only for a moment. Urban Meyer spoke last week about getting some "spark plays." The Jaguars found those in week three, but they weren't enough. Here are my top takeaways.
Offensive Line Regression
After a reasonably impressive two-week run to start the 2021 season, the Jaguars' offensive line fell back to earth in a big way against the Cardinals. The O-Line allowed 18 quarterback pressures, five quarterback hits, and regularly allowed penetration in the running game. The Cardinals have a talented defensive front, but so did the Broncos in week two. The bottom line is the Jaguars' offensive line fell flat in this one. We could put together a blooper real of all the whiffs. Guilty parties include Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, and Ben Bartch. They'll need to bounce back quickly as the Jaguars head to Cincy for Thursday Night Football in week four.
Tyson Campbell's Debut on the Outside
The Jaguars selected Tyson Campbell with the 33rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The rookie primarily played in the slot to start the season, but injuries in the cornerback room necessitated a move to the outside this week. Campbell started strong with an early PBU against AJ Green in single coverage on third down. Campbell played physically through Green's body on a slant route and forced an early punt for the Cardinals. After that, well, let's just say it wasn't pretty. The lengthy young cornerback went on to allow five completions on five targets in primary coverage for 77 yards, an average of over 15 yards per completion. He is sticky in coverage but lacks the ability to make plays at the catch point down the field.
Trevor Lawrence's Performance
The rookie quarterback was up and down again. He had more than a handful of wow plays and several that were head-scratchers. He appears to be getting more comfortable with his guys and within the offense every week. Lawrence finished the game with 22/34 for 219 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions, and two fumbles. He also ran the ball six times for 27 yards. Lawrence's talent is simply undeniable. His touchdown pass to DJ Chark was a top 1% throw. Only his receiver could get to that ball in the back of the end zone. He also showed off his deceptive quickness, juking linebacker Devon Kennard in the open field. He made several tight-window throws and had accurate dimes on the run. But Trevor also struggled at times. The first interception of the day wasn't his fault as Jacob Hollister dropped the ball, and it popped right into the arms of a Cardinals' defender. The second one was ugly, however. Lawrence got immediate pressure on the infamous flea-flicker — thanks to left guard Andrew Norwell spinning like a ballerina — and threw off his back foot to the right sideline where Byron Murphy was lurking. While the offensive line didn't get the job done, Lawrence needed to sail that one out of bounds. Both fumbles came late when the game was out of reach, and one of them wasn't Lawrence's fault in any way. Trevor isn't there yet, but with his talent and work ethic, he'll be just fine sooner rather than later.
Defense Does the Job
The Jaguars' defense held the Cardinals' offense to 24 points. A team with Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and a host of talented weapons only managed 24 points against your Jags. This was a team that was averaging 36 points per game. Knowing that Kyler would likely out-leverage the extra rushers, Joe Cullen didn't bring as much pressure as he usually does. Kudos to Cullen for realizing that. And even with some of the struggles in one-on-one coverage, the Jaguars held the Cards to just one third-down conversion on nine tries. In addition, Duval's defensive front held Arizona just to three yards per carry on the ground. Andrew Wingard even picked off a deep ball from Kyler Murray. Perhaps a team performance like this one gave Urban Meyer and company the confidence to deal cornerback CJ Henderson.
Agnew the Amazing
Jamal Agnew the GOD. Seriously though, this guy has scored return touchdowns of 100+ yards in consecutive games. Are you kidding me? This week it came on the last play of the first half. The Cardinals attempted a deeeeep field goal, and Jamal Agnew returned it 109 yards for the score. His teammates helped out with some key blocks, but Jamal Agnew broke tackles without breaking stride and found pay dirt on one of the more exciting plays in recent memory.
The Jaguars finally fed their beast and he rewarded them. James Robinson carried the ball 15 times for 88 yards and a score. He also caught six of six targets for 46 yards. He was the work horse the Jaguars needed yesterday. I'd advise feeding him ever more moving forward. Robinson's impact is undeniable and with a rookie quarterback who is still learning the ropes, leaning on the running game and short passing game would be wise.
It appears the Jaguars and Josh Lambo have hit an impasse. Lambo missed 2/3 extra point attempts on Sunday and is 0/3 on FG tries this season. The Jaguars have a couple of kickers working out for them on Monday and appear likely to make a move.
Late Game Collapse
The Jaguars were up 19-10 with less than 18 minutes remaining in the game, but turnovers and missed opportunities sealed their fate in this one. This is still a very young team with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach. They appeared to take a step forward against the Cardinals, but they couldn't avoid beating themselves yet again.
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