JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2023 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media Analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio
- The Jaguars continue to give away games due to self-inflicted mistakes that routinely result in losses. The "DBOs" (Don't Beat Ourselves) checklist consists of turnovers, pre-snap or foolish penalties, and big plays allowed – and the Jaguars checked every box with multiple offenses Sunday. From quarterback Trevor Lawrence's three interceptions and wide receivers Parker Washington's fumble, to seven penalties for 40 yards – including several false starts – to blown coverages that resulted in easy scores for the Browns' pass catchers, the Jaguars gift-wrapped the game to Cleveland. The extra possessions and prime scoring opportunities created by the Jaguars' miscues were too much to overcome for a team struggling to find consistent execution on each side of the ball.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- The Browns dominated from beginning to end behind a spectacular performance from reserve quarterback Joe Flacco and a dominant defensive showing. The veteran signal-caller picked apart the Jaguars' secondary with various pinpoint throws to wide-open pass catchers running free at intermediate range. The misdirection and play-action fakes repeatedly fooled the linebackers, leaving tight ends and wideouts uncovered between the numbers on crossing routes. With Flacco quickly finding his rhythm and confidence connecting on high-percentage throws, the Browns' offense got into a groove that enabled them to build an early lead. The defense led by defensive end Myles Garrett fed off the offense's energy and destroyed the Jaguars' game plan with their suffocating run defense, persistent pass rush and overwhelming physicality. Throw in several self-inflicted errors and the Jaguars could not knock off a scrappy team on the road.
- Credit Lawrence for playing through a gimpy ankle against the NFL's No.1 defense. The third-year pro did not show any limitations in making plays inside and outside the pocket against an aggressive defensive intent on attacking with five or more rushers on every play. Though the constant harassment disrupted Lawrence's rhythm and forced him into poor decisions, the young quarterback had to deal with communication issues and shoddy execution from his wideouts. The pass catchers were not on the same page as Lawrence, and the lack of chemistry between the group resulted in costly interceptions and misfires that prematurely ended drives. Against a suffocating defense with an elite pass rusher and outstanding cover corners, Lawrence and Co. needed to be in sync to win in a hostile environment.
- Tight end Evan Engram was a shining star for the Jaguars in Cleveland. The crafty playmaker snagged 11 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He was the only perimeter weapon consistently open against the Browns' suffocating coverage, and Lawrence repeatedly threw the ball in his direction on key downs. Given his performance and the trust Lawrence has in his ability, Engram's breakout game against the Browns could lead to a late-season surge in production.
- The offense struggled against the Browns' defense from the opening snap to the final whistle. The offensive line could not move the big bodies in the trenches, and the lack of push eliminated the Jaguars' running game. With running back Travis Etienne Jr. rendered a non-factor as a runner, the Jaguars could not slow down the pass rush with play fakes and bootlegs to create easy throws for Lawrence against an overaggressive defensive front. Given the lack of production from a non-existent running game, it is not a surprise that the Jaguars' aerial attack struggled against a defense prepared to defend a one-dimensional approach.
- The Jaguars' defense struggles with miscommunication, blown assignments and poor tackling. The trifecta showed up against the Browns in a performance that will go down as one of the unit's worst of the season. The egregious and self-inflicted mistakes suggest the defense is not on the same page and confused by their assignments. With the unit's overall execution undermined by the lack of communication, focus and attention to detail, the Jaguars' defense looks nothing like that of the dominant group that sparked an impressive run earlier in the season.