INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan with quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 23-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in a 2021 Week 10 game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Sunday
- Tough, very tough. This one stung Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That's what Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer said immediately following the oh-so-close loss to the Colts – and it was easy to see why. Lawrence's midseason struggles continued Sunday, particularly during a first half that statistically marked his worst two quarters of the season: 3 of 14 passing for 36 yards and a touchdown – and the performance felt every bit that difficult. "I have to be more accurate," Lawrence said. "I'm frustrated because I don't think I'm throwing the ball as well as I can. I've got to be cleaner." But Meyer has said often in recent weeks that great quarterback play usually means great play from players around the quarterback – and he has said the opposite is true, too. That held true Sunday. The Jaguars' offensive struggles the last three weeks (33 points and two meaningful touchdowns in three games) is about more than Lawrence. Untimely penalties. A continuation of season-long issues with drops. The continued inability for receivers to make plays downfield. Yes, Lawrence has struggled at times. But this is an "offense thing" as much as a "Lawrence thing" right now.
- Not-so impressive and then really impressive. The first half Sunday was … weird. That's being kind. Part of the weirdness was on offense. Part of it was a blocked punt by the Colts for a touchdown. Part of it was Colts running back Jonathan Taylor rushing for nearly 100 first-quarter yards. But what shouldn't go unnoticed Sunday is that the Jaguars overcame that and had a chance to beat a contending team on the game's final drive. The main reason for the turnaround was a very good defensive performance after the first quarter. After Taylor rushed for 107 first-half yards, he finished with 116 yards for the game. The Jaguars, despite what Meyer called an awful offensive performance much of the game, cut a 17-0 lead to 20-17 – and regained possession trailing by that margin with 8:24 remaining. The offense went three-and-out and the defense allowed a field-goal drive before Lawrence lost a fumble with :50 remaining that ended the game. Meyer afterward said he was hesitant to say he was proud of the performance. He shouldn't have been.
- The defense is spicy. The Jaguars' defense struggled with Taylor in the first quarter – but once the unit got its footing it put together an impressive performance. The pass rush was fierce even when the Jaguars didn't get home. They forced Colts quarterback Carson Wentz to throw on the move and he threw up a couple of his signature "what-is-he-doing?" passes. The Jaguars' defense was at its best in the second and third quarters when it seemed the Colts would put the game out of reach. The defense was up to that challenge, only giving up a field goal in the second half and giving the Jaguars a chance at the second-half rally. The Jaguars couldn't hold the Colts off late in the fourth quarter, giving up enough yards to make it a six-point game. That's the next step: to make the big play when needed the most. But defensive coordinator Joe Cullen has this unit playing at a different level than in September and early October. You are watching a unit grow more confident and grow together week after week. The Jaguars believe defensively – and they should.
- The offense is limited. I thought offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer prepared and called a good game. But when you don't have game-changing players, it can be tough to be productive. The Jaguars had possession near their own 40-yard line on three consecutive drives – and went three and out on all three. You know why; they don't have players that threaten a defensive coordinator more than 10 yards down the field, and the Colts were able to stack the line of scrimmage against the run to put the Jaguars in second- and third-and-long situations. You could see the design elements Meyer's staff integrated. But with the Colts unafraid of getting beat deep, the pressure was too intense for Lawrence to have time to see the whole field; for instance, he missed wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. wide open on a wheel route at the end of the second quarter. The Jaguars must run to get anything done, and that's not going to be easy with eight games remaining.
- Got it together. The defense gave this team a chance to beat the Colts. The offense didn't score enough to capitalize on the defense's efforts. The Jaguars somehow made a game that did not feel close at all close, with a chance to win on the final offensive drive. Credit the defense for once again showing it is vastly improved from the beginning of the season. Taylor drove right down the field on the opening drive – and from there, it seemed this was going to be a very long day. The defense adjusted and held the best back in the league right now to only 67 yards the rest of the game. "I love the way our defense is playing right now," Lawrence said. "They're giving us a chance to win." They are. Now, the offense must do something about it.
- Work with what you got. The Jaguars do not have enough playmakers on offense right now. That is obvious. But this is what the team has to work with, and it is on the offense to get creative and find ways to move the ball. One thing that must change: catch the ball. At the end of the third quarter, they had five crucial drops for big plays. The offense did not play well and Lawrence didn't play well, only completing 16 passes. Lawrence was hard on himself in his postgame press conference for fumbling on the last drive, but the offense would not have been in that all-or-nothing situation if it had converted throughout the entire game. The receivers are not doing the quarterback any favors, and he needs favors right now.
Check out these top game photos of the Jacksonville Jaguars as they take on the Indianapolis Colts for Week 10 of the NFL Regular Season.