EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Senior writer John Oehser examines Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell's press conference following the Jaguars' 26-21 loss to the New York Jets in a 2021 Week 16 game at MetLife Stadium Sunday
1. Going for it. The Jaguars entered Sunday 2-12 with a six-game losing streak, and Bevell said the game plan absolutely was to be aggressive. That was evident in deep passes by quarterback Trevor Lawrence throughout the game, but the tone was set early with the Jaguars winning the toss and opting to take the opening kickoff. That's a departure from their approach in recent weeks – and a departure from the common NFL practice of teams winning the opening toss and deferring to receive the second-half kickoff. "Definitely was going in to play this game to win and we were able to make some aggressive calls," Bevell said.
2. … and going for it again. The early aggression continued on the first series, when Bevell opted to go for a fake punt after the Jaguars failed to produce a first down with their first three offensive plays. Safety Andrew Wingard took a direct snap and ran four yards on 4th-and-2 from the Jaguars 33, with the Jaguars driving 61 more yards before kicker Matthew Wright converted a 21-yard field goal for a 3-0 Jaguars lead. "I had greenlighted that with Special Teams Coordinator] Nick [Sorensen] early and it just played out that way that we ended up in that situation,” [Bevell said. "Great job of executing there, and it did lead to points for us to get out in an early lead."
3. Thumbs up for Schotty … The Jaguars' offense produced 384 yards and 27 first downs Sunday, their highest yardage total since a Week 6 victory over Miami and their most first downs of the season. This came in the first game with passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer calling plays, a role Bevell held in the first 12 games of the season as offensive coordinator and last Sunday in his first game as interim head coach. "I thought Schotty did an outstanding job for us today," Bevell said, noting that the Jaguars scored on their first three drives – their first time this season scoring on three consecutive drives. "Our execution was on point, and I thought the guys did a really good job of executing the plan."
4. … and for Lawrence. Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence had perhaps his best game since Week 6, completing 26 of 39 passes for 280 yards. He also ran six times for 37 yards, including a 26-yard run to the Jets 5 on the Jaguars' final drive. "Trevor was really the key factor in that," Bevell said of the Jaguars' offensive success Sunday. "The plays that were there he hit them, and he took the shots when he had to, and he took the checkdowns when he had to." Bevell added, "I was really proud of him today. I thought he did a really good job of managing the game, he took the checkdowns that were there, he took the shots that were there. That's probably the thing that impressed me the most, the shot opportunities that he had that, that he took those."
5. Run over. The Jaguars allowed 273 yards rushing on 36 carries Sunday. That's the most rushing yards they have allowed this season, with the previous high 184 to the Tennessee Titans and running back Derrick Henry in a Week 5 loss in Jacksonville. Jets running back Michael Carter rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries and quarterback Zach Wilson scrambled four times for 91 yards – including a 52-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. "We didn't do a good job, I don't think, of really staying in our gaps and filling the gaps where we needed to," Bevell said. "When teams are running the ball it's a function of everybody and you have to do a great job of playing gap-integrity defense."
6. No excuses. The Jaguars on Sunday allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown for a second time in as many weeks, with Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios returning a second-quarter kickoff untouched for a 103-yard touchdown that gave the Jets a 13-9 lead. The Jaguars had multiple players out on the COVID-19 list Sunday, which meant changes on return teams as former backups moved into the starting lineup. "Anytime guys go down it's a next-man up mentality and there are no excuses," Bevell said. "We have to do a better job in coverage. We gave up one last week, we gave up one this week and it ends up being a difference in a game. Whoever we put out there, it's those guys' responsibility to be able to go out and make plays. We'll continue to look at it, but the guy didn't even break stride as he ran through our kickoff team, so we have to do a better job of filling our lanes. Backside has to do a better job of closing, we'll go back, we'll look at it, we'll evaluate it and continue to work on it."