The Jacksonville Jaguars got off to a bad start in their regular season opener against the Washington Commanders. Their offense was unable to muster more than three points, and the defense gave up 14 points in the first two quarters.
Neither side of the ball has made enough plays to advance the team’s cause in the first half, and Jacksonville faces an 11-point deficit heading into the game’s home stretch. With 30 minutes of football left, the Jaguars will need to get into gear if they intend on making a comeback at FedEx Field.
Here are our key takeaways from the first half of Jacksonville’s first game of the season:
Trevor Lawrence faced constant pressure in first half
Lawrence has played admirably so far but has had defenders in his face nearly every time he has dropped back against Washington. Up against so many talented pass rushers on the Commanders’ defensive line, Jacksonville’s front-five has been totally outmatched to this point, giving up one sack and three hurries in the first half.
Clearly, a new game plan is in order for the Jaguars’ offensive line in the second half. Lawrence will continue to have a hard time finding open receivers if he doesn’t have a clean pocket to throw from and the necessary time for plays to develop. With some adjustments up front, Jacksonville’s offense could start to click.
Despite early struggles, Jaguars defense tightens up late in 2nd quarter
Defensive toughness was supposed to be the Jaguars’ calling card in 2022, but this matchup got off to a frustrating start for the unit. Down eleven points, the defense has made Carson Wentz look like an MVP candidate through two quarters, allowing over 170 yards and two touchdown passes to the Commanders.
Linebacker Josh Allen managed to force a fumble late in the second half to give the offense a chance to score points, but the ensuing drive downfield stalled in the red zone and eventually ended in a missed field goal.
One bright spot for the defense was their stout play against the run, as they allowed just 19 yards on the ground. If they can continue to force turnovers and figure out how to make Washington’s offensive attack one-dimensional, Jacksonville should have a shot at leading a comeback.
Penalties played huge factor in first-half struggle
A lack of discipline highlighted the Jaguars’ first-half effort, and they’ll need to regroup at the intermission to make sure penalties don’t come to define this game for them. They were flagged a total of six times for 42 penalty yards through two quarters, including one infraction late in the red zone in the two-minute warning that took forced them back in their attempt to score a touchdown before halftime.
Officials are placing emphasis on enforcing certain penalties that are likely to steer the outcome of crucial games, so Jacksonville will need to find a way to play within the rules in their second half comeback effort. If they can, the 11-point deficit might not be as insurmountable as it seems.