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 Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m. in a 2022 Week 4 game …
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
1. It's happening I. We've tracked, discussed and analyzed (and over-analyzed) it for more than a season. And while we probably won't stop tracking, discussing and analyzing (and over-analyzing) it just yet, signs are that the anticipated – and critically important – development of Trevor Lawrence as the Jaguars' franchise quarterback is occurring before our collective eyes. Lawrence, after looking OK other than a few critical errant passes in a Week 1 loss at Washington, has looked very much the part of an efficient, big-time franchise quarterback the last two weeks by completing 53 of 69 passes for 497 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions in back-to-back one-sided victories over Indianapolis and the Los Angeles Chargers. Credit the Jaguars' offensive line for allowing no sacks and four pressures in two games. Credit the Jaguars having a lead throughout the last two games and Lawrence being able to play without pressure. Credit the offensive coaches scheming receivers routinely and masterly. But also credit Lawrence, who appears on his way to being the franchise quarterback the Jaguars have coveted for so long.
2. It's happening II. Such is the extent of the Jaguars' recent struggles that some of their followers perhaps aren't sure what they are seeing the last two weeks is real. That's understandable considering the Jaguars from Week 1 of 2020 through Week 1 of 2022 lost 30 of 33 games with 18 losses by double digits, but make no mistake: The last two weeks are no fluke. And a few key absences and injuries to the Chargers and Colts don't make the victories a fluke, either. The Jaguars have allowed 10 points in the last two games. They have scored 62 points. Their defensive front has been overwhelming at times, and their offense – particularly in the second half against the Chargers – was methodical at a level that hasn't been seen around this franchise in a looooooong time. This is not to say the Jaguars will win every game by 20 or more points. There will be ups and downs the rest of the season, perhaps even major ones. But the dark times of the recent past seem behind us. This feels like a team that can compete most weeks in most circumstances. This feels like the right direction. It perhaps happened more quickly than expected, but it's certainly happening.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
1. The offensive tackles are winning. I didn't advocate for Cam Robinson getting paid like an elite left tackle last spring; I thought he was good but not worth the money the best tackles in football can command. I thought Walker Little was the better choice at right tackle and believed Jawaan Taylor could/should be a Pro Bowl-caliber guard. So far, the Jaguars' tackles are beating my expectations. Robinson struggled with Commanders pass rusher Montez Sweat on Opening Day in Washington but has played really well the last two weeks. Taylor was the NFL's most-penalized right tackle his first three seasons but hasn't allowed a sack or had a penalty called on him in 2022. That's a big win for him and for the Jaguars. The Jaguars are in a great spot against the Eagles on Sunday because they can protect their quarterback, and Robinson and Taylor are leading the way.
2. Turnover ratio is key. The Jaguars lead the NFL with eight takeaways in 2022 and their plus-seven takeaway-giveaway differential leads the league through three weeks. A year ago, they had an NFL-low nine takeaways and finished minus-20 in the differential. Think back to how the Jaguars used the extra possessions to build a 13-3 lead against the Chargers; that momentum carried them the rest of the way. They took away the Colts' will to win with their takeaways in Week 2. The Jaguars are a good team, but they have plenty of work to do this season. They'll go farther, and faster in 2022 if they can keep up their outstanding takeaway tendencies.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…
1. Toughest Test. This week really will be the Jaguars' toughest test so far this season. I know I said that last week when the Jaguars beat a talented Chargers team on the road. The Jaguars' two consecutive victories came against teams dealing with serious injuries, particularly the Chargers. The Eagles are completely healthy, not to mention undefeated. If the Jaguars beat the Eagles this weekend, get ready for the conversation to triple around this team. The Jaguars suddenly are on SportsCenter every day this week and people are asking the question, "What is going on in Jacksonville?" The answer: An intelligent, professional coaching staff is putting players in the best position to succeed.
2. All on the line. The Jaguars offensive line is playing really well, not allowing a sack in the past two weeks. The Eagles' defensive line leads the NFL in sacks and sacked Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz nine times last week. This is the prime matchup I will be watching on Sunday … whose line holds up? Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox will be a big challenge for Jaguars guards Brandon Scherff and Ben Bartch. Also: Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham is the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, coming off a 2.5-sack game. Buckle up, Jaguars offensive line. This is a big game.