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 Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m. in a 2022 Week 5 game …
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- Which is which. Many observers are wondering this week which is the "real" Jaguars team – the one that made too many avoidable mistakes in Week 1 and 4 losses in Washington and Philadelphia, or the one that played near-flawlessly in victories over Indianapolis and the Los Angeles Chargers? The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, but the guess here is this team will be closer to the turnover-free teams that dominated the Colts and Chargers than the one that committed six turnovers in the losses. The Jaguars, remember, corrected a slew of avoidable errors following the Washington loss and played efficiently the next two weeks. Four of five turnovers Sunday in Philadelphia were fumbles by quarterback Trevor Lawrence struggling in wet, cold conditions. That's not an excuse, but "callous disregard for the ball" hasn't been the norm for he or the team. Here's guessing it won't be the norm moving forward – and that the Jaguars get efficient again beginning Sunday at TIAA Bank Field.
- A non-issue. The Jaguars' two losses have been frustrating, in part because they led by eight or more points in each game and in part because they felt avoidable. What has been intriguing has been players' reaction to those losses – and it's that reaction that makes it likely the team will respond well Sunday. Head Coach Doug Pederson on Monday talked about the team being "upset" at the loss. He followed that by saying he thinks "they're starting to believe how special they are." That feels like significant insight into how Pederson feels about this team. The Jaguars responded with resolve and professionalism to their first loss of the season, playing back-to-back efficient and dominant games. This doesn't feel like a team that will fall apart or have locker room issues, and it feels like one that will continue to grow and mature moving forward.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- This is a must-win for a team that believes it can make a run at the division title. It's right there for them. The Colts aren't who we thought they were, and the Titans are more one-dimensional without wide receiver A.J. Brown and don't look like the team they were a season ago. Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, a young quarterback with new weapons and a defense fortified through free agency and the draft have the Jaguars on the rise. Can they get there this year? Yes. But only if they can beat the Texans. How hard can that be? They're 0-3-1. True, but they weren't very good last season and still swept the Jaguars. Just like they did in 2020 and 2019 and 2018. The Jaguars' last win over the Texans came in December of 2017 on their way to the AFC Championship Game. They've already handled the Colts and get another shot next week. They don't see the Titans until December but at the rate, their injury report is growing it might be a moot point; they already lost their best pass rusher (Harold Landry) and best pass protector Taylor Lewan). If the Jaguars win this game, they're right in it. If they lose it, I won't mention the AFC South title again.
- Pederson is standing on his head. Not literally, but you know what they say about hockey goalkeepers who are hot … that's Pederson right now. He's got this team 2-2, which is a nice change from their 1-6 September record the last two years. Plus, you can't miss the way they rebounded in the third quarter in Washington and Philadelphia – both games in which the Jaguars played poorly in the first half but still had a chance to drive late in the game to win or tie. He had them ready for the Colts on a day that the Colts were supposed to be ready for the Jaguars, and he had them ready against the Chargers on the West Coast, where the Jaguars aren't supposed to play well. His play-calling has been really, really good. He's showing each week why he was the right guy for the job. He's not worried because he knows what it takes to dial his team in for the next game. The players aren't worried because they know they know what he's doing. I won't be surprised if he's among the top vote-getters in January for NFL Coach of the Year. He has this going in the right direction, finally.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…
- Eight straight. Every week we are talking about some sort of streak. Normally, the storyline is the Jaguars breaking a bad streak – like breaking a streak of eighteen consecutive road losses with a win over the Chargers two weeks ago. It is time to break another streak. The Texans have beaten the Jaguars eight consecutive games. Left tackle Cam Robinson told me Wednesday in the locker room he had a discussion with general manager Trent Baalke about that streak. Robinson could not believe it has been that long since a Jaguars win over the Texans. Until the streak is broken, we keep talking about it.
- Back to the basics. The Eagles rushed for over 200 yards on the Jaguars' defense last week, by far the most yards the defense has allowed rushing this season. I asked defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot in the locker room why there was such a drastic decline in stopping the run from Week 3 to Week 4. He said the terrible conditions played a part, but more so players were jumping out of gaps and were not sticking to assignments. Smoot and Pederson spoke about getting back to playing sound against the run this week. If anything is going right for the Texans, it is their running game led by rookie running back Dameon Pierce. The Jaguars' run defense needs to get back to the way it was playing in Weeks 2 and 3. That is the defense this team can rely on.
The sun was out at the Jaguars Thursday practice ahead of their Week 5, division matchup against the Houston, Texans. Swipe through to see them work 💪