JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and digital reporter/host Ashlyn Sullivan offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars as they prepare to play the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at 1 p.m. in a 2022 Week 6 game …
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- Now, we're into it. It's often said you don't know what an NFL team really is in a given season until about Week 6. You also don't much about a team until adversity happens. If so, we may learn something when the Jaguars play the Colts for the second time in five weeks Sunday. "It's a quick turnaround," Head Coach Doug Pederson said, noting that he expects a dramatically tougher test than when the Jaguars beat the Colts 24-0 at TIAA Bank Field in Week 2. "It's obviously going to be a different game." Not only is Sunday's game the sixth of the season, but the Jaguars are also facing their first real adversity – and the first significant outside noise – of the Pederson era. It was easy for observers to love the Jaguars after one-sided Week 2-3 victories over the Colts and Los Angeles Chargers, and most observers remained optimistic after Week 4's narrow loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Jaguars are now under .500 for the first time since mid-September, out of first place in the AFC South for the first time since Week 3 and on their first two-game losing streak of the season. They also are facing their first significant injury with starting left guard Ben Bartch out for the season. We're into the meat of the season now. We'll find out a lot about the 2022 Jaguars starting Sunday.
- Time he needs, and time he will get. This entry is about Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence – and while it sometimes may seem he's the only topic in these parts, he must be a topic this week. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft hasn't played well the past two weeks. He struggled with ball control in the Philadelphia rain and struggled with accuracy and a notably poor interception against Houston Sunday. The struggles have caused angst among fans, but Pederson clearly voiced the team's approach on Monday when he again discussed quarterbacks needing consistency around them and time in an offensive scheme to flourish. Lawrence has had neither in recent seasons, and Pederson made clear Monday the Jaguars' objective is to ensure he has it moving forward – and therefore has time and a realistic chance to develop. There will be ups and downs this season. The Jaguars and Pederson may not see what Lawrence really is and what he can be until the 2023 season. That's OK. Young quarterbacks need that time. Lawrence is getting it. As he should.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- I know everyone wants to compare Lawrence to Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. Truthfully, I did too. But every young quarterback's situation is different. Burrow took a big jump forward in his second season when the Cincinnati Bengals were incredibly fortunate to have Ja'Maar Chase – a game-changer who may soon be the NFL's best wide receiver – fall to them at No. 4 in the 2021 NFL Draft. Herbert landed in Los Angeles with Chargers wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The Jaguars have good receivers, but they don't have game-breakers. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn't play until his fourth season, and the results have been extraordinary. Terry Bradshaw didn't become the Pittsburgh Steelers' go-to quarterback until his fourth season in the 1970s and Troy Aikman took two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1990s – and the addition of Hall of Famers Michael Irvin at wide receiver and Emmitt Smith at running back – to reach his potential. Pederson is preaching patience and I'm inclined to listen to a man who played the position alongside Dan Marino in Miami and Brett Favre in Green Bay for coaches such as Don Shula, Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid. Lawrence has all the tools and all the intangibles. I'm going to take a deep breath.
- The best way to beat the Colts is to make Matt Ryan nervous in the pocket. The Colts' 37-year-old quarterback doesn't look like the same guy whose nickname was once "Matty Ice," and who was the NFL Most Valuable Player in 2016. The Colts were counting on their offensive line to protect Ryan, but he has been sacked 21 times in five games and has fumbled a dozen times. The Jaguars' defensive front got zero pressure on Texans quarterback Davis Mills Sunday and that can't happen against the Colts. If Ryan has time, he will have the weapons he didn't have in Week 2 with wide receivers Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce. The Colts' offensive line isn't as good as it has been since Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith showed up. The Jaguars must attack with ruthless abandon to sweep the Colts and win in Indianapolis for the first time since 2017.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…
- Patience… I know, I am tired of hearing it too. But it is the reality of where the Jaguars are right now. The Jaguars likely will continue on this roller coaster throughout the entire season. They will lose games they are supposed to win, such as the Texans. They will win games no one thought they could, such as beating the Chargers in Los Angeles in Week 3. That's what young teams do as they try to figure themselves out. Unfortunately, this isn't the team we thought it was in Week 2 and 3 in back-to-back wins. I also don't think it's the team that seemed not to be able to do anything right the past two weeks. They are somewhere in the middle. We need to lower our expectations and understand the right head coach is here to show the players how to win the right way. "I know that with time, we will be there with those teams," Pederson said Monday, referring to ascending teams with quarterbacks deeper into their growth in more established offensive systems such as the Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals. The Jaguars will be there. Just not yet. Sigh.
- Another streak. Will every game this season have some disastrous streak that goes with it? It feels that way sometimes. The Jaguars smacked the Colts in Week 2, have sustained four consecutive losses in Indy and have lost eight of nine games there. They will attempt to sweep the Colts for the first time since 2017. They have broken streaks before this season, like finally winning on the road in Week 3. They also have allowed some streaks to live, losing a ninth consecutive game to the Texans. Until there are no more streaks to talk about, we will discuss them. It seems we're a bit of a way away from getting rid of all of them.