The Jaguars' offense has been entirely unreliable through 12 games of the 2021 season.
That has contributed to a defining trend of what is now a 2-10 season – the slow starts that, each week, put the Jaguars in a big deficit.
The Jaguars (2-10) on Sunday afternoon trailed 10-0 early in a 37-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (8-4) at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. – their ninth time in 11 games trailing by 10 or more points.
They have trailed by at least 16 points in each of the last four games.
"It's been what, three games, back-to-back where I feel like we haven't had much of an opportunity to do anything," Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot said early Sunday evening. "We kind of spotted them 14 points early the last two games, 10 points this game, and it's tough."
The Rams on Sunday took advantage of Brandon Powell's 65-yard kickoff return to open the game and Jaguars running back James Robinson's fumble at the Jaguars 34-yard line to build an early 10-point lead. The Rams drove 29 yards for those 10 points.
"We've just got to come out with a little more fire," Smoot said. "From the get-go from special teams to the offense to the defense, you know. We have to come out and start strong and we haven't been able to do that the last three weeks and it's been tough. Not many opportunities on defense to change the game."
"We just have to come together, to stay together and not get negative, stay positive. We have five more games, and we have to be able to finish strong."
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence offered a spark if not the full flame with a 13-play, 73-yard drive that ended with running back Carlos Hyde's one-yard touchdown run. Down 10-7 early in the second quarter, it seemed the young Jaguars might embrace the underdog role and make a game of it.
The defense held the Rams to a field goal, which made the score a manageable 13-7, but the offense then went three and out. The defense forced a punt on the Rams next drive and the offense went three and out.
The Jaguars went three and out on five of their first seven possessions and also had the lost fumble by Robinson on the second play of their first possession.
"We've got to get more going," Lawrence said of an offense that has averaged 10 points per game since a Week 7 bye. "We've got to figure something out. We're not going to win any games if we don't move the ball any better than that."
Added Lawrence, "You can't grow weary, especially when you're not playing well down the stretch. You just have to keep plugging in and I think that's something we've done a good job of. Obviously it didn't show today but I think guys have done a good job of that. We have to finish."
The Jaguars opened the half with another three-and-out possession. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford finished the Rams' first three drives of the second half with touchdown passes.
Smoot and his defensive teammates understand what the offense is facing and said the defense can do more even as the offense struggles.
"We can't spot them even three points," he said. "Like, if the offense turns over the ball we just have to go out there and stop them. We can't spot them any kind of points early on because that's what's been killing us. We get down and can't really turn it around. We have to start strong, and we have to stay together. Don't let anything divide us."
Lawrence on an offense that has been held to 200 yards or less three times this season (189, Week 2 versus Denver; 200, Week 11, San Francisco; 197 Sunday): "We've got to get more going. There's not one thing you can point at and say, 'This is what we have to do better,' or we already would have it fixed by now. We have to really take a look at this along with the other games and we have to figure something out. We have to play better than that. We're not going to win any games if we can't move the ball better than that. It's on all of us. It's on players. It's on coaches. It's on everybody. We have to be better."
Lawrence, whose 145 yards passing Sunday marked his fifth game under 200 yards this season: "I just have to remember who I am and be the same person regardless of highs, lows, whatever it is. Obviously it has been a challenging year, but you have to be the same person every day. That's something I pride myself on. I get frustrated but we're all in this thing together. We have a building full of people trying to right the ship and we're working our tails off to try to turn this thing around. It hasn't happened as fast as we wanted it to, but you have to keep working and making progress. I think this year we've made some progress, but obviously right now we're not playing well. That's something you have to just be honest and move on and start playing better."
Check out these top game photos of the Jacksonville Jaguars as they take on the Los Angeles Rams for Week 13 of the NFL Regular Season at SoFi Stadium.