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 New York Giants in a 2022 Week 7 game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m. …
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- A thought on the offense … We're six weeks into the season, the time you first get a true feel for an NFL team. In that sense, the feel we're getting for the Jaguars' offense is positive for the short- and long-term future. The Jaguars through six games rank 11th in the NFL in yards (357.8) and are tied for 15th in points (23.0) – up 16 and 17 spots in each category (305.4 yards in 2021, 14.9 points) from last season, respectively. They have produced more than 330 yards in every game except a Week 4 loss played in inclement weather in Philadelphia. They are averaging more than 3.5 red-zone possessions a game and 4.1 50-yard-plus drives per game and haven't had a game with fewer than three 50-yard drives. When this offense converts in the red zone, it can score in the high 20s. The unit's efficiency there figures to improve as quarterback Trevor Lawrence grows in Head Coach Doug Pederson's offense and as the group gains continuity. It has been in the 20s five of six games this season after being there five times in 17 games this season. This is an offense that can give this team a chance.
- … and one on the defense. The Jaguars' defense has been a bit more difficult to figure this season. The unit through six games ranks 11th in the NFL in yards allowed (333.8) and ninth in points allowed (19.0) – up nine (353.1 yards in 2021) and 19 (26.9 points) spots in each category, respectively. The Jaguars' defense felt dominant at times through four games, with a big reason for that feel being a league-leading nine takeaways. They also had nine sacks through five games, with the standout performance being a 24-0 victory over the Colts in which the Jaguars sacked quarterback Matt Ryan five times with three interceptions. The unit in the last two weeks has registered one sack with no interceptions. The defense, like the offense, also has struggled in late-game situations. The offense in the first three losses failed to score with possession and a chance to take the lead in the final two minutes. The defense in three of four losses has allowed the go-ahead touchdown in the final three minutes. This defense, like the offense, can give the Jaguars a chance. Both units must improve in the key moments.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- Time to shake things up in the secondary. I admired cornerback Shaq Griffin's willingness to stand in front of the media and talk about his performance in Indianapolis this past Sunday. Another high-profile cornerback we all remember wouldn't have had the same courage. Griffin is a professional and I think highly of him as a person. But he wasn't good enough against the Colts and it has been a pattern for the veteran cornerback who gave up the game-winning touchdown Sunday. Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley make the difficult call Monday night to bench cornerback J.C. Jackson after the high-dollar free agent was flagged for pass interference and allowed two touchdowns in the first half against the Denver Broncos. I don't believe Tre Herndon will fix the problem by himself, but the Jaguars' coaching staff can't do anything and expect Griffin to just flip the switch and start playing better. It's a tough decision, but the Chargers were better in the second half with Mike Davis instead of Jackson. I think Pederson and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell must do something this week.
- Consistency begins on the practice field. It carries over to the meeting rooms, the weight room and how players get in the extra study and after-hours playbook work required to be a professional football player. A veteran last week told me coaches are demanding attention to detail and the development of great habits. It's on the players to apply it. He told me the area where you see this team's youth is in the number of first- and second-year players who are still learning how to practice and work as professionals. There is a strong veteran presence in the locker room with guys like outside linebacker Josh Allen, right guard Brandon Scherff, left tackle Cam Robinson, defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris, inside linebacker Foye Oluokun and others who are leading by example, but the example must be followed to get where they want to go. Six weeks into the season you can understand why Pederson talks so often about teachable moments. He needs his young players to figure things out so that they can talk about finishing the game and getting the win instead of lamenting the one that got away.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…
- A chance. The Jaguars have a chance to turn this around. A three-game losing streak isn't pretty, but each loss has been by eight points or less. That makes the losing even more frustrating, but this isn't like last year. The Jaguars know if a couple more plays had gone their way the record would be far different. Wide receiver Zay Jones was calm and collected Monday talking to the media, and explaining how the Jaguars can have their best football be in front of them. He mentioned the importance of playing your best ball in November and December and even made everyone chuckle when he said October has been spooky (for the Jags, yes it has been.) Pederson spoke about hitting your stride at the right time way back at the start of training camp. Sure, the Jaguars have a lot to fix from last week against the Colts, especially on defense. But, we have seen them fix mistakes quickly before … for example, going from zero touchdowns to three touchdowns in one week. There is a chance for the Jags to hit their stride at the right time, but it must start Sunday against the Giants.
- I'm not that scared. Everyone is talking about Giants running back Saquon Barkley and how on earth the 2-4 Jaguars can stop him. I do not think the Jaguars will have a ton of trouble against Barkley. I know he is one of the NFL's most talented running backs, but so is Colts running back Jonathan Taylor and the Jaguar held him to 54 rushing yards in Week 2. The Jaguars are allowing 89.3 rushing yards per game, third-fewest in the NFL. The Giants are one of the NFL's hot teams, but I don't think the storyline should be all about stopping Barkley this week. The Jaguars have many other things to fix before we start worrying about the run defense.