JACKSONVILLE – The feeling's good and getting better.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence feels it. Wide receiver Christian Kirk feels it. And pretty much everybody else involved in the Jaguars' passing offense feels it, too.
"As the season goes on, we've built more and more chemistry," Lawrence said as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (8-3) prepared to play the Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) at EverBank Stadium Monday.
The Jaguars, after averaging 191.3 yards passing through nine games – including 162 yards passing in a Week 10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers – have shown marked improvement in that area in the last two week.
"We're finding our rhythm and we're getting back to what we're good at," Kirk said. "This offense is really good at putting together long drives, especially in gotta-have-it situations. We can chip away, run the ball, throw screens but also we can also have the big plays, the explosives that extend drives."
The Jaguars in the last two games – both key AFC South victories – have averaged 312.5 yards passing. Lawrence this past Sunday in a 24-21 victory over the Houston Texans turned in his best passing game of the season, completing 23 of 38 passes for a season-high 364 yards and a touchdown with an interception.
"We've been more consistent all around," Lawrence said. "Every position, myself included, we've just been playing better the last few weeks and we've been able to capitalize on some shots down the field. We're taken advantage of some of those looks that maybe earlier in the season we weren't able to, for whatever reason.
"Maybe it is a mis-throw, maybe it was a drop, maybe it's protection. Any of those things can happen that prevent plays from being successful. We've just been able to capitalize on more of those the last two weeks and have to continue to find ways to do that."
The passing offense not only was productive against Houston Sunday, it was diverse. Wide receivers Calvin Ridley and Kirk each finished with 89 yards receiving, with Ridley catching a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion. Tight ends Luke Farrell had 55 yards receiving and Evan Engram had 49 yards receiving.
"We're getting better as we go," Ridley said. "I knew it would be like that. We weren't doing our thing in the beginning, but with the talent we have, I knew it was going to pop."
Lawrence, after being sacked 24 times in the first nine games, has been sacked just once since a five-sack game in the loss to San Francisco. The one sack in the last two games came when he ran out of bounds for a one-yard loss in a 34-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans. The one sack is the Jaguars' lowest two-game total of the season.
"The guys have been protecting really, really great," Lawrence said. "The more we can do that, the better we're going to be. We talked about giving those guys their flowers because they're doing a heck of a job up front. Those guys are doing a great job."
- Lawrence on playing on Monday Night Football for the first time in 12 seasons: "It shows that we're a team that's playing well, that had a little bit of success last year and has earned an opportunity to play on one of the bigger stages, which is cool to be recognized in that light. But you still have a job to do and take care of business on Mondays. The only thing we're thinking about is just finding a way to win the game. We have to maximize the opportunity to take advantage of it, but it doesn't change anything. We might just have some more people watching the game and it's a night game and it's on Monday, but that's the only difference. It's the same job, same task for us. It's going to be exciting. I'm sure the city's pumped and hopefully get a nice big crowd."
- Head Coach Doug Pederson on Monday Night Football: "It's very exciting. You know the history of Monday Night Football in the National Football League. You're the only game on that day. You're playing in front of your peers and other teams and they're watching you. It's exciting."
- Kirk on Monday Night Football: "It's electric. There's a lot more media, a lot more energy around the stadium. The fans have been out there all day getting ready. It's an awesome opportunity to be able to play on this type of stage and all eyes are on you."