JACKSONVILLE – Christian Kirk likes the state of the Jaguars' offense.
He likes where it is now, and likes how far it has come in two-and-a-half months – and the veteran wide receiver said this week he particularly likes where he believes it is headed.
He, too, likes the potential of the team entering the season's final seven games.
"I think for us the key is playing complementary football," Kirk said Monday as the Jaguars (3-7) began preparing to play the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (7-3) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. "That's one thing we have to do – offensively, defensively and special teams.
"For us, it's putting it all together."
The Jaguars through 10 games have done that at times, with the offense in Head Coach Doug Pederson's first season showing significant improvement and ranking ninth in the NFL in total yards and 19th in scoring. They ranked 27th and 32nd, respectively, in the categories last season.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, after throwing 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions as a rookie, has thrown 13 and six this season – and he has five games with a passer rating over 100 after having just one such games last season.
"I think it's all about us growing, No. 1, as an offense – understanding the scheme and understanding one another," said Kirk, who leads the Jaguars with 52 receptions for 679 yards and seven touchdowns. "There are more things we want to do. We still want to keep working on getting our vertical pass game going and pushing the ball downfield.
"We have guys in the room who can do it. Trevor's great at pushing the ball down the field. We want to get that going."
Kirk called the difference in the offense now compared to early in the season "night and day."
"It's a new scheme for all of us," Kirk said, adding that the key to improving has been "learning what works against certain looks and what doesn't work.
"That may take a little bit, but I feel like we know it inside and out," he added. "Now that we have it mastered, it's going out there and playing and executing at the level we know we can. When you install a new scheme and you're part of a new offense, you do it in training camp, but you're still pretty basic. You go into Week 1 and you have no idea what it's going to look like. You pray that it's going to be great and you want to go out and execute, but you have no idea about the flow of the game or the feel.
"From Week 1 to now, Week 10, I definitely feel we have it all mastered and we know how it works and what we're supposed to accomplish on every single play."
- Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr., like most Jaguars players, focused on self-evaluation during last week's Week 11 bye. For Etienne, that meant reviewing all his runs and targets through the first 10 games. "I watched that as self-evaluation," said Etienne, who has rushed for 725 yards and four touchdowns on 131 carries this season. "I wanted to see if I was giving anything away to the defense and I wanted to see what I could get better at. I definitely self-evaluated and I feel like other guys did that. I feel like it's on me to carry my load. If all 11 of us carry our load, I feel like great things will happen for us."
- Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot on Monday said he remains confident in rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker. "He's doing the little things right," Smoot said, adding that that approach will serve the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft well. Smoot, who leads the Jaguars with five sacks through 10 games, said Walker has improved as a pass rusher. Walker has 2.5 sacks and six pressures on the quarterback this season. "I just remember my rookie year I got close over and over and over again," Smoot said. "He's able to get off the ball better. His hand placement is better. As a rookie, it's more about timing – how to pass rush. It's really tough. He's getting better."