CLEVELAND, Ohio – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's post-game press conference following the Jaguars’ 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium in a 2023 Week 14 game in Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday
- Different pages. The Jaguars' 27 points Sunday were the second-most allowed by the Browns at home this season, but the Jaguars' offense was inconsistent at times. Lawrence, playing through a high-ankle sprain sustained in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals this past Monday, completed 28 of 50 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions, with at least one the result of a miscommunication between Lawrence and wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. intercepted at the Browns eight on the play. "A couple times," Pederson said of miscommunications between Ridley and Lawrence. "Without a week of practice together [because of Lawrence's injury], that affects that a little bit. Obviously, that's not an excuse and they would say the same thing. They've played a lot of football together. We just have to evaluate the tape and figure out a way to get back on track."
- Filling in ably. Wide receiver Christian Kirk missed Sunday, meaning Lawrence played without perhaps his most trusted receiver. Kirk sustained a groin injury on the first play against Cincinnati, with rookie wide receiver Parker Washington playing an increased role in his absence. "Obviously we miss Christian," Pederson said. "He's a big part of the offense, but look: Where we are in the season, this late, it's the 'next-man-up mentality.' We have to continue as coaches to prepare our players and get those guys ready to go regardless of who's in there." Washington, a fifth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft from Penn State, caught two passes for 37 yards and a 19-yard touchdown Sunday after catching six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati. Washington also lost a fumble on the Jaguars' opening drive of the third quarter that led to a 22-yard touchdown dive that gave the Browns a 21-7 lead. "I don't think so," Pederson said when asked if Kirk's absence led to offensive inconsistency. "Parker, other than the fumble early in the third quarter there, I thought did some good things. The touchdown catch was big. He'll continue to improve, and he and Trevor will continue to work and be on the same page."
- Being aggressive. A two-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to tight end Evan Engram cut the Browns' lead to 31-27 with 1:33 remaining, with Pederson opting to try for a two-point conversion after the score. Lawrence was sacked on the play, with Bengals wide receiver James Proche securing Cleveland's victory by recovering the ensuing onside kick. Pederson said the objective in going for two points was to "try to be aggressive there. Just the way the game was going, I felt like we needed to make something happen. That was a good time. We had them on their heels at that time, and that was a good decision." Pederson was asked if the Jaguars' recent injuries caused him to want to avoid overtime on the road. "Sometimes that's maybe the easiest thing to think about," he said. "But when you're down there and you just scored, we have a little momentum right there. For me it was, it was kind of an easy decision to go for it at that time because if you get a chance to get the ball back, you know exactly what you have to do. Either way, it worked to your advantage."
- Turnover time. The Jaguars scored four touchdowns on four red-zone opportunities Sunday, but Pederson focused more afterward on missed opportunities. The Jaguars had possession in Browns territory four times in the first half. They scored their only touchdown of the half on a 10-yard pass from Lawrence to Engram but also punted twice and lost possession when Emerson intercepted Lawrence after Ridley didn't look for the pass. "Offensively we were a little disconnected," Pederson said. "Trevor and the receivers were a little off. We had opportunities to make plays in the first half and didn't. The turnovers are big, and you can't do that. We had a little success early running the football with some of the things we did to keep them off balance, but just overall just not enough plays made and too many self-inflicted wounds that kept us from sustaining drives or staying on the field."
- OK up front. The Browns on Sunday registered four sacks, holding the Jaguars to 58 yards and a touchdown on 20 rushes. Jaguars left tackle Ezra Cleveland, who was starting for Walker Little (hamstring) – who had been starting for left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) – left with a knee injury in the first half. Blake Hance replaced Cleveland. "I thought it went well," Pederson said. "I mean, there was some pressure there. We gave up four sacks, but a lot of them came at the end of the game when you're in those passing modes. I thought both guys (Cleveland and Hance) did a nice job. Obviously, we helped them as much as we could over there with tight ends and backs, but I thought both guys held up good."