JACKSONVILLE – This was improvement.
No, that improvement didn't mean the Jaguars winning. It also didn't mean breaking an 18-game losing streak. And it guarantees nothing moving forward.
But a 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday showed legitimate progress.
The Jaguars led at halftime and late in the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. They did so against an unbeaten team, and they did so with cornerbacks CJ Henderson and Tre Henderson both out against one of the NFL's best offenses. And make no mistake:
The defensive performance against the Cardinals and quarterback Kyler Murray Sunday? It was admirable.
And the performance of the offensive line and running game? Also, admirable.
The Jaguars still made too many mistakes to win. And the reality is it's not good enough to play two and a half good quarters if you're going to let a nine-point lead unravel in what seemed a snap of the fingers late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter.
The other reality is rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, while continuing to show serious flashes of what he will become in the future, must eliminate turnovers if the Jaguars are to win in the present. He had four turnovers Sunday, and while he wasn't to blame for all of them, four turnovers from the position are a few too many to give yourself a chance to win.
So, the Jaguars are 0-3 with franchise-record losing streak ongoing. Now, on to Cincinnati Thursday night.
Let's get to it…
Roger from Houston
I think they're getting better.
This is true. The Jaguars' defense was really good much of Sunday. They frustrated Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray much of the game, holding him without a touchdown pass. They had a really good team down by nine points midway through the third quarter. They were controlling clock and had outplayed Arizona to that point. It wasn't enough to win. But it was better than Weeks 1 and 2. If the Jaguars play like that the rest of the season, they will win games.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL
I'm excited for the future, but unfortunately right now the Jags are the still the worst team in the league by a considerable margin.
This was the much-ballyhooed, oft-overhyped, typically enthusiastic First Email of the Game. A strong argument could be made that the Jaguars are the worst team in the NFL, as evidenced by 18 consecutive losses – including three to start the season. I can't go with you on the considerable margin part, not having seen or covered every team. And they were a lot better Sunday than the first two weeks.
Jeff from Atlantic Beach
A common thought was that the Jaguars would struggle early in the season and hopefully we would see a gradual improvement with each week. Does that seem like what's happening to you?
Sunday was certainly the best evidence of this yet.
Jeremy from Jacksonville
O of the Zone, two weeks in a row. Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, the Agnew signing was worth it, right? I can't remember the last time we had a dynamic return threat. Mickens?
Wide receiver/punt returner Jamal Agnew had a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week and a 109-yard return with a missed field goal this week. If that's not worth it, I have no idea what is.
Dave from Jacksonville
Zone did the Jags cut the wrong tight end? This bunch has not been helpful to this point.
I liked Ben Ellefson. I was surprised the Jaguars released him. I don't know that he would have been a mammoth improvement over the tight ends on the roster.
Steve from McGavock, HS
JO. Don't you think the game was lost when our defense allowed the Cards to go 75 yards in about three minutes? TL thinks he has to win the game when our bend-over defensive lets them march down the field with next to no pressure.
No, I think the game was lost when Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. returned an interception 29 yards to give the Cardinals a 24-19 lead, then Jaguars did nothing on the next drive and the Cardinals methodically drove 65 yards for a touchdown and a 31-19 lead on the ensuing possession. The Jaguars' defense was pretty gallant until then. It seemed at that point it had little left.
Keith from Jacksonville and Upper Decks Since 1995
0-17?? If not, please give us a reason why it won't turn out this way.
Because they're improving – and because there were things Sunday that should carry forward. A solid performance by the offensive line. A very solid performance by the defense. I'm not saying this is a playoff team or even close. But can it win? Absolutely.
Adam from St Johns
Fans are just fanning and no nothing about the game.
This is not true. And I think you meant "know."
Ryan from Detroit
Just brutal with the Red Zone pick. I know he needs the experience and he'll take his lumps. But I'm ready to just look to next year. This year is painful to watch.
It almost sounds from your email as if you believe Lawrence was at fault for his second-quarter interception. This error could be remedied by watching the game.
Matt from Chandler, AZ
Last week I said the Lambo ran out of gas and Meyer said he praised work ethic. What is the excuse this week? Should be none. New kicker needs to be brought in NOW!!!
Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo entered Sunday having missed all three of his field goals this season. He didn't attempt a field goal Sunday, but he missed two of three extra points. Head Coach Urban Meyer, after supporting Lambo throughout the week, again praised Lambo for his work ethic. He also noted that there's a reality to this situation. So yeah …