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Quick thoughts: On to Week 2


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 at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. in a 2022 Week 2 game …

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer

1. A chance to be in the chase. We haven't discussed big games much in "Quick Thoughts" in recent seasons, but make no mistake: Sunday's game against the Colts has a least a hint of a big-game feel for the Jaguars. They could have – and perhaps should have – won against Washington Sunday in the regular-season opener and were two missed red-zone opportunities and a fourth-quarter stop from doing just that. With the Colts and Houston Texans both 0-0-1 and the Tennessee Titans 0-1, the AFC South through Week 1 looks like the everyone's-a-contender division many observers predicted before the season. The Jaguars were close in Week 1. They're playing a team they have beaten at home seven consecutive seasons in Week 2. This is a far more important game for the Jaguars than Week 1, and a victory would put the Jaguars' young season in an entirely different perspective.

2. "Fixable" means fixable. The Jaguars are 0-1 instead of 1-0 mostly because of what Head Coach Doug Pederson considered "fixable" mistakes. A few makeable red-zone plays were missed. A few critical momentum-changing penalties. A few missed assignments at the wrong time. The Jaguars' 22 points in Week 1 could have been more had they not penalized themselves into multiple difficult down-and-distance situations. And the 22 points should have been in the 30s had quarterback Trevor Lawrence made a couple of makeable first-half red-zone completions. There was a lot of talk of cleaning up these areas as Week 1 turned into Week 2. How clean these areas get could go far in determining the Jaguars' chances of taking control of the division Sunday.

Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…

1. Pederson is taking the gloves off. Pederson knows he has a young team, with more roster turnover than a normal offseason and an almost entirely different staff from last season. But the veteran of nearly 30 NFL seasons as a player/coach isn't going to let the Jaguars use any of that as an excuse. On Monday, a day after a season-opening loss at Washington, he was asked about mistakes and self-inflicted wounds. "It's frustrating, but I look at myself, too, and say, 'Could I have done a better job putting our guys in situations?'" he said. "Ultimately, we're in this together, and if the plays are there, we ask the players to make them.

That's part of our philosophy: Make the plays that kind of come to you, and we didn't make enough of those yesterday." On Wednesday, when asked about Lawrence trusting players and scheme and coaches, Pederson's response was nearly the same: "At some point, it's about going out there and making the play." Pederson spent the offseason getting his team's mind right after a disastrous 2021. Now, his focus is to get his team's mind right about what it takes to win Sundays. It's refreshing to listen to a coach cut through all the noise and call it like it is.

2. The Colts defense should have your attention. When it comes to the Colts, we tend to focus on offense. But their defense this season is as good as it has been in years and is orchestrated by former Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, who has a history of producing top-performing defenses. Up front they lean heavily on massive defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and have paired pass rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Kwity Paye, the latter of whom put up a pair of sacks in Houston last week. All Pro middle linebacker Darius Leonard is now going by Shaq, but he's the same dynamic playmaker. They also added former New England corner Stephon Gilmore to a secondary that already had Kenny Moore and Julian Blackmon. With Bradley coordinating, you know what you're going to see: A talented group that lines up and plays it straight. They don't do much tricky stuff, but they execute at a high level and make plays when they come their way. The offense is the sexy side of the ball, but the Colts' defense could be among the NFL's best when they get everyone on the field this season.

Sullivan …Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…

1. What streak? As much as this will dominate our conversation this week, players and coaches don't care about the Jaguars' seven-year home winning streak over the Colts. You know they have this game circled, especially since the Jaguars knocked them out of the playoffs last January. "I don't care about the past," Pederson said. "That's why they call it history." Pederson has to say that, but he's right: Why would this team care about possibly the craziest streak in the NFL? This roster and coaching staff are very different than what was in Jacksonville last season, so we shouldn't expect the same results. However, this game is crucial for both the Jaguars and Colts. Whoever loses falls behind in the division. So yes … this streak means something. But the players must ignore it and play without hesitation.

2. Little mistakes. That was the dominant locker-room topic Wednesday during media availability. The players continued to preach the message we first heard from Pederson following Sunday's loss to the Commanders – that the Jaguars shot themselves in the foot and should have won. I asked tight end, Evan Engram, how quickly a player can fix these "little mistakes." Engram: "It's all about being dialed in. Especially in crucial situations like a game-winning drive, we have to think of all the little things that cannot happen. It takes a lot of focus but that is where we need to be." Pederson took responsibility this week, saying things like an illegal shift cannot happen and are inexcusable. With the Jaguars' level of focus in this area this week, I believe we will see an improvement in Week 2.

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