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It was certainly a sharper performance than last week, and the Jacksonville Jaguars were much more competitive, especially defensively. But ultimately, the Denver Broncos proved to be too much for the Jags in their Week 2 matchup, and Jacksonville fell to 0-2 after a 23-13 loss.
The Jaguars came out of the gates hot, going right down the field to score the game’s first touchdown. Denver eventually took a 10-7 lead, and while the Jags had a chance to tie it before the half, kicker Josh Lambo missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.
Jacksonville fought to keep it close, but it could never mount much of a challenge in the second half. The team showed signs of progress in Week 2, but it still has a long way to go if it’s going to be competitive this season. Here are the postgame takeaways.
Another mixed bag from Trevor Lawrence and the offense
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence was hoping for a much more efficient day against the Broncos than he had against the Texans in Week 1. Though he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in that game, he also tossed three interceptions.
The early returns were good on Sunday, as Lawrence led a great drive to open the game, which was capped off by a dime dropped to Marvin Jones Jr. for a 25-yard score.
Lawrence looked much more comfortable initially, but when the Jags fell behind on the scoreboard, he felt a lot more pressure. He forced some passes and dealt with some overthrows, but the turnovers proved to be the worst aspect of his performance once again.
He threw two interceptions, and both were questionable decisions. He completed less than 50% of his 33 passes, and he only had 118 yards. That touchdown on the first drive proved to be his best moment of the game.
Lawrence got a little more support on the ground this week, and James Robinson saw a much bigger role in the game plan early on. He took 11 carries for 47 yards, but once they got down by two scores, the Jags moved away from the run game. Robinson did contribute a bit in the passing game, taking three catches for 17 yards.
Defense shows signs of improvement
If there’s one positive takeaway to be gleaned from the game, it was the play of Jacksonville’s defense. The unit got torched last week by Tyrod Taylor, and while Teddy Bridgewater had a similarly efficient performance, throwing for 328 yards and two scores on 26-of-34 passing, the defense demonstrated some bend-but-don’t-break abilities.
The Broncos were just 2-of-11 on third-down opportunities and just 2-of-4 in the red zone. Jacksonville may have given up a high volume of yardage, but it only translated into two touchdowns.
This was especially impressive when you consider the fact that the defense was down one of its biggest starters, as cornerback CJ Henderson missed a good portion of the game with a hip injury. He was listed as questionable to return early in the second half, but he didn’t see the field again.
The Jaguars were also much more solid against the run than they were against the pass. Rookie running back Javonte Williams had the most success for Denver, his 13-carry, 64-yard day was a bit inflated by a 16-yard run, which was his longest of the day. Meanwhile, Melvin Gordon III only had 31 yards on his eight carries.
It won’t matter if Jacksonville can’t put points on the board, and this defense is certainly not doing itself any favors by giving up so many big plays, but after the unit looked hapless in Week 1, it showed signs of real improvement this time around.
Jones continues to be Lawrence’s favorite target in the passing game, and he had six catches for 55 yards and a score. The only other multi-catch Jacksonville receivers were Robinson and Laviska Shenault Jr., who had -3 yards on his two catches. The Jags need to find a way to work Shenault and D.J. Chark Jr. into the game plan. They have talent offensively, but if they can’t design plays to get them involved, it won’t matter.
Jacksonville’s offensive line faced a big test today against Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and while Chubb missed a large portion of the game with an injury, the unit still played well. Lawrence was only sacked once, and while he faced some pressure, he had time to make throws. The line also set up the run game fairly well, and it probably would have been more productive if Jacksonville hadn’t moved away from it.
Andrew Wingard has seen a lot of criticism for his play at free safety, and while he continues to struggle in coverage, he did notch a sack on Sunday, as well as a team-high eight combined tackles. But it’s not necessarily a great sign when your safety leads the team in tackles, and it’s a bit surprising at this point that Andre Cisco isn’t seeing more opportunities. Rayshawn Jenkins’ performance at the other safety spot is worth noting, as he played much better in Week 2.
The defensive line was able to capitalize on pressure more this week. Though Taylor was constantly under fire last week, he was only sacked once. This week, Jacksonville had three sacks, with Josh Allen and Adam Gotsis adding one apiece to Wingard’s sack. Unfortunately, it was another quiet game for second-year edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, who only had three tackles and didn’t provide much pressure.
With Henderson out of the game, Chris Claybrooks saw a good amount of time on the outside. But rookie Tyson Campbell, the usual starter at nickel, also got some work on the outside, and he played fairly well. The highlight for the second-round pick was a pass breakup in the end zone. Still, the secondary as a whole struggled to match up with receiver Courtland Sutton, who had nine catches on 12 targets for 159 yards.