LONDON – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in a 2022 Week 8 game at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- Another week, another close loss. This is repetitive – maddeningly repetitive – but you can't analyze the Jaguars these days without focusing on the missed opportunities and mistakes that have led to six losses this season, including the last five in frustrating succession. The Jaguars have led in every game this season, and all six losses have been decided in the final minutes. "These last couple of weeks are obviously tough to take," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "What I'm proud of is the guys are playing for 60 minutes. They're playing to the end. Nobody likes to lose. That's the nature of the game. But if I had to pick, I'd rather pick these types of games than blowout games when you lose. You learn more in losses like this as a team, where we are with the culture of our team, than you would in a blowout loss. We just have to keep fighting." The defense on Sunday allowed a go-ahead touchdown in the final six minutes for a fourth consecutive game, with Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson finding wide receiver K.J. Hamler behind veteran cornerback Tre Herndon for a killer 47-yard first-play pass on the Broncos' game-winning touchdown drive. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence followed that with his second interception of the game on the first play of the ensuing drive – essentially ending the game. This was one the Jaguars could have and should have won. But most of their losses this season fit that description, meaning eight games into this season they remain an improved team that can't yet close games.
- Rough. Really rough. Lawrence has had some rough moments in his young career. But two moments in his 25th NFL start Sunday qualify as a couple of the roughest. "I've got to play better and I'll leave it that," Lawrence said. "I didn't play well enough today to win." The No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lawrence completed 18 of 31 passes for 133 yards Sunday – and as impressive as he was on an early drive that ended with a pretty 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Engram, he struggled to an equal degree in clutch moments after that. First, Lawrence on first-and-goal from the Broncos one early in the second quarter rolled right and was intercepted by safety Justin Simmons on a pass intended for wide receiver Zay Jones. The play kept the Jaguars' lead at 7-0 and kept the Broncos in a game the Jaguars had dominated to that point. His interception on the Jaguars' final drive was equally damaging, ending a game that felt too similar to other close losses this season. "There's a couple of plays I really want back, but you don't get them back at this point," Lawrence said. "It's definitely a tough feeling." Lawrence is growing and no one around the Jaguars is giving up on him. But he'll remember this one as one of his most difficult Sundays.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- Confidence is a concern. Five consecutive losses. Five consecutive second halves where the lead was lost. Five consecutive games where missed opportunities or mistakes turned the tide against the Jaguars. I know everyone wants to deconstruct Lawrence, but he gave the defense a lead with less than four minutes remaining. I get that he has to play at a different level to be worthy of the franchise-quarterback label; the kindergarteners next door know that. But the defense was given a chance against the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos to close the door and the unit hasn't done the job. Safety Andre Cisco should have been helping cornerback Tre Herndon over the top on the Broncos' game-winning drive and outside linebacker Josh Allen shouldn't have lost containment on Wilson on a key third down. I am left to wonder if this defense hasn't lost its confidence while everyone else is questioning the quarterback.
- A good play is one that works. Play-calling is the low hanging fruit in the NFL; it's so easy to criticize and I admit to doing it often. But as much as I want to say they should have run it from the tight red zone on that second-quarter drive, it isn't a problem if Lawrence does what he should have: Thrown it away to live another play. Another example is the interception on the final offensive play when it seems as if giving the ball to running back Travis Etienne Jr. with two timeouts remaining probably made sense to keep the defense honest. If Lawrence just throws it to a wide-open Zay Jones on the crossing route to that same side of the field, there's no issue with the play or the decision to throw. If players execute, most play calls are not an issue.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…
- Same old song. Both Pederson and Lawrence said almost immediately in their postgame comments that they feel like they're a broken record talking about what went wrong Sunday. The past five weeks have felt identical: the Jaguars fought hard, the defense couldn't get off the field when it mattered most and Lawrence had a couple of costly errors that changed the game. Pederson mentioned if you're going to lose, this is the way to lose because there is a lesson in each loss. But, man … I think this season stings way more for the guys in that locker room than the blowout losses last season did. To be that close week after week and fall to 2-6 is incredibly frustrating. The Jaguars have no other choice but to go back to the drawing board and get ready for a home game in one short week.
- Key takeaways. Speaking with Pederson postgame, I asked him how you "learn how to win." His two takeaways: Big-time players must make big-time plays and the coaching staff must adjust to make sure their best players are on the field. That to me seemed like a coach who was going to evaluate every player through the first eight games; if a playmaker isn't acting like one, the person below him could start. This coaching staff must make some adjustments to get this team over the hump. I expect some changes coming to the starting roster with nine games remaining.