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State of the Jaguars

The Cincinnati Bengals did not have an advantage over the Jacksonville Jaguars for most of their matchup on Thursday. With just four seconds remaining, however, kicker Evan McPherson booted a 35-yard field goal to give Cincinnati its third win of the season, rallying back to provide Jacksonville with its 19th consecutive loss. The offense played a balanced game by having 24 dropbacks and adding in 30 rushing attempts, allowing Trevor Lawrence to have the best game of his NFL career.

However, the defense took a massive u-turn in the second half after holding the Bengals offense to 0 points in the first half. In addition to losing Thursday’s game the way that they did, the Jags sustained some notable injuries in the process and will have to make adjustments as we advance. However, with 13 games left, the team must press on and look ahead to Week 5. One of the biggest takeaways was Trevor Lawrence.

Having thrown seven interceptions in his first three games, he controlled the ball very well, having not thrown a single interception on Thursday against the Bengals. This is what Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had to say about Trevor’s improvement. “As you watch and you assess his play, there are things that he’s getting much better at. One of the things that I thought he did a nice job of was getting through his progressions. I think I mentioned last week there was a couple of plays where he did that, and this week, he’s doing it even more. I think one of the outstanding plays was when he started off to the left and came back and hit Marvin [Jones Jr.] in the middle of the field. Just plays like that where he’s calm, he’s patient, he gets through it and is reading it out is plays that he’s improving on.”

When it comes to his completion rate, Lawrence completed the game with a 70.8% completion percentage after going 17-of-24 (his highest so far). Though he didn’t have a touchdown pass, he ran for a touchdown, amazed teammates and fans alike as a mobile quarterback. Along with his rushing touchdown, Lawrence finished the game with eight rushes for 36 yards, which proved that Darrell Bevell could add another dynamic to this offense that is looking better by the week. Trevor Lawrence said this about being more mobile.

“I felt good, I thought I did a good job of using my legs. I think I really took advantage of most of the opportunities that I had. There was not necessarily a ton of wide-open scrambles like maybe I could have had in games past, but I thought I did a good job of keeping the defense honest and making them respect my ability to extend plays and get outside of the pocket. I thought that helped us for sure and it definitely felt like we were kind of in a groove and mixing those in. I thought we did a good job, so I was pleased with it. Looking back on it I think I did a good job of getting as many yards as I could get and then getting down. Maybe I need to get down a little bit faster on some of them. I know Cam Robinson always says that to me every time I get hit, he gets all mad at me because I did not get down, but it was good. I felt like that helped us. It makes it harder on the defense when you can threaten them with your legs and that is just one other thing they have to worry about so when you do scramble, they start to come up and then you get big plays down field or if not, you can use your legs and run.”

Another thing to help the Jaguars during the game was them giving James Robinson carries. He had a season-high so far of 18 carries during the game against Cincinnati. Darrell Bevell had this to say about the run game.

“It’s been something that we’ve been trying to get established and we were able to do it better in the game. We had better situations, we were ahead in the game, and so how cool is it just to be able to run the ball, turn it into nine on seven and run eight plays and score a touchdown. Then we came out and ran it again, so I thought it was a good start, good place for us to be able to continue to work on.”

One of the most significant losses for the Jaguars on Thursday night was losing WR DJ Chark, who fractured his ankle in Thursday’s loss and will most likely be out for the season. Jaguars’ defensive coordinator Joe Cullen had this to say about facing Bengals RB Joe Mixon.

“Well, I always said this when I was defensive lineman playing and you gave up 20 yards, but you gave up 400 throwing, you felt like you did pretty good. On the other hand, if you gave up 400 yards rushing, the whole place just felt like they get their hearts ripped out. It always starts with that, and you always give yourself a chance to make a team one-dimensional. I tell you; we’re going to have our hands full. He’s as good a back as there is in the league. I played him the last five years, played him twice [being] in the same division. When he’s steamrolling and going, he’s as good as they get. We’re going to have to gang tackle him. He can get the ball in the perimeter, he can slash, he can cut back. He’s not a one-cut guy but he gets downhill, he lowers his shoulders, and he can run you over, so we’re going to have to get population to the football on him.”

Only time will tell how the Jaguars can turn this around and regroup as they face the Titans on October 10.

Lennon Crisp