The longest losing streak in the NFL in more than 40 years finally and mercifully came to an end on Sunday morning. Taking on the Miami Dolphins in London, the Jacksonville Jaguars looked to be heading toward their 20th consecutive loss.
They trailed 13-3 in the minutes approaching halftime, but the team fought back and even led 17-13 at one point. But with the game tied at 20 in the final seconds, it took a 53-yard field goal from kicker Matthew Wright as time expired to seal the win.
The Jaguars still sit at just 1-5 and have a lot of problems that were on full display on Sunday, but this team at least managed to finally get over the hump and earn a victory. Here are the takeaways.
Lawrence is developing rapidly
The rookie quarterback still has room to grow, undoubtedly. His completion percentage is still lagging, and he was just 25-of-41 against the Dolphins, but he delivered another sharp performance overall. He had to overcome several key drops, and he didn’t toss an interception. His only turnover was a strip-sack that was ultimately negated by an interception from Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on the ensuing drive.
Lawrence threw for 319 yards and a touchdown, which came on a beautiful pass to Marvin Jones. It’s hard to believe that this is the same quarterback that tossed three ugly picks in the season opener against the Texans, but so far in 2021, Lawrence looks like every bit the generational prospect he was advertised as.
Yes, the Dolphins were without their two best corners in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. That certainly played a role in the passing game’s success. But the Jags had their share of injuries to manage, as well.
Even down three offensive linemen (Ben Bartch had to leave the game with a concussion), he was able to make plays despite facing a lot of pressure, and the Jags got another solid game from running back James Robinson, who continues to be one of the NFL’s best rushers this season. He had 73 yards and a score on 17 carries.
Jacksonville may not have much hope at salvaging this season, but the win should help the confidence of Lawrence and the offense.
The defense does just enough
Jacksonville’s defense has been the glaring weak spot through six games, and Sunday morning’s matchup was no different. In Tagovailoa’s first start since breaking his ribs in Week 2, he was able to find a lot of success through the air against the Jaguars, throwing for 329 yards and two scores.
But he wasn’t particularly efficient, completing just 33-of-47 passes, and his interception was an ugly one. On the ground, though, the Jags were strong. They held Miami to just 77 yards on 20 carries, and the leading rusher was Malcolm Brown, who had just 24 yards on five attempts.
The Jaguars got a crucial stuff on a 4th-and-1 that set up the game-winning field goal drive, and it was arguably the best defensive play the Jags have made all season.
With the run defense stepping up and the secondary at least forcing a timely turnover in the form of a pick for Nevin Lawson, there’s reason for some optimism, though the defensive unit did just enough to eke out a win.
The Jags have found their kicker. Once again, Josh Lambo was a healthy scratch, and Matthew Wright started his third-straight game. The team’s field goal drought finally came to an end, as Wright made all three of his attempts, including two from more than 50, one of which won the game.
The Jaguars clearly tried to involve Laviska Shenault Jr. more after he only had one catch for a big play last week, but it wasn’t the prettiest performance on his part. He was targeted 10 times, but only brought in six of them for 54 yards. A pair of drops hurt his effort, and while he’s producing, it’s not as much as you would hope/expect with D.J. Chark Jr. out for the rest of the season. However, two of Shenault’s six catches were crucial for the Jags. One came during the drive where the Jags scored their first touchdown on a 4th-and-6 play to help keep the drive alive. The other was the last catch of the game as he snagged a 9-yard reception on Miami’s 35 to set Wright up for the game-winning field goal. Still, it’s clear that Marvin Jones Jr., who had 100 yards on Sunday, is likely to be the primary target the rest of the way.
The team also tried to involved Dan Arnold in the passing game, but he too had some issues with drops and only caught two of his five targets for 27 yards. Chris Manhertz and Luke Farrell also each recorded a catch on their only targets. It’s clear the Jags want to involve the tight end group now, but the current personnel hasn’t been able to make a major impact.
With Tyson Campbell out once again, Tre Herndon and Lawson started at cornerback alongside Shaquill Griffin. Herndon made five tackles, but his impact in coverage continues to be minimal. However, Lawson had two pass breakups in addition to the pick, and he could see a bigger role moving forward, considering how much the Jags’ secondary has struggled.
Similarly, Jacksonville gave the start at linebacker to Dakota Allen with Myles Jack out, and while he forced a fumble, he didn’t make much of an impact otherwise, totaling just three tackles. Chappelle Russell was more productive with five tackles, while the other starting linebacker in Damien Wilson was the team’s leading tackler with 12.