ARLINGTON, Texas – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 34-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a 2021 Preseason Week 3 game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday
- Boy, did they need this. The Jaguars needed rhythm, momentum and confidence entering the regular season. They got all three against the Cowboys Sunday – and perhaps most importantly, they got rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence's best performance in three preseason starts. The Jaguars put Lawrence in the shotgun often on his three drives Sunday, and he was accurate and confident in his progressions from the start. Lawrence, who completed 11 of 12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns, threw 38 yards to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II on the Jaguars' first drive – and he capped that drive with a double-pump touchdown pass for 18 yards to wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. Lawrence then finished his day by leading a second touchdown drive, capping that one with a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. Lawrence began the week by being named the Jaguars' starting quarterback, officially. He finished it by giving the team what it needed as the preseason ended.
- The quarterback position is set. The Jaguars' quarterback position changed dramatically in a week – but it looks better after Sunday than it has in some time. Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, was named the starter Wednesday – marking the end of the competition with veteran Gardner Minshew II. That made official what long had been assumed. The Jaguars then traded Minshew to the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, marking the end of Minshew's memorable – and often exciting – run with the organization. That left veteran C.J. Beathard as the backup. Lawrence turned in an impressive performance Sunday, one that should help his confidence and one that goes at least a little way to establishing the offensive rhythm that Head Coach Urban Meyer wanted entering the regular season. Beathard, who completed five of 10 passes for 86 yards with an interception Sunday, was clearly the best quarterback on the roster behind Lawrence during the preseason. So, that's it: Lawrence the starter and Beathard the backup. After Sunday, and after the preseason, the Jaguars have to feel better about the position than they have felt in some time.
- The Jaguars helped the quarterback. The Jaguars clearly worked this week to make the offense help get Lawrence more comfortable and more efficient. The rookie completed 11 of 12 passes, including a dime to Dorsett for 38 yards and an excellent throw to Cooper for Lawrence's first professional touchdown. Credit offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for working at Meyer's mandate to get the offense into a rhythm. The quarterback was in the shotgun for most of his time on the field and they used bubble screens and rollouts to help him find that tempo they've been looking for while still not showing exactly how they plan to attack this fall.
- Hamilton may be a rising star. Defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton looks like he is going to be a star in the middle of the 3-4 scheme run by defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. It didn't matter whether the Cowboys were trying to run or pass Sunday, he was everywhere he wanted to be. Hamilton looked like a rising player late last season before he got hurt – but clearly, he has gotten stronger and more comfortable in his second NFL season. With a big guy like Hamilton anchoring the middle of the defense and being as disruptive as he has been this August, Cullen should have all kinds of flexibility with his scheme. You can't run a solid 3-4 without someone like Hamilton. For Cullen to have that guy right out of the gate is a good sign for his ability to rebuild the defense quickly.
- Mission accomplished. Everyone around the Jaguars needed Sunday's victory over the Cowboys as a breather – especially Meyer. There were so many questions about the offense and whether the Jaguars were able to operate fast, especially at the start of the game. Lawrence handled this offense with poise and confidence with four starting offensive linemen out of the game. The Jaguars can now go into the regular season looking at Lawrence's passer rating of 154.5 Sunday and sleep well until Houston.
- The run defense is legit. That is crazy to say after what we saw a season ago. The Jaguars held the Cowboys to under 80 yards rushing Sunday, capping off three strong preseason performances against the run. My biggest question going into this season was did they do enough in the offseason to stop the run consistently. If the defense plays like it did this preseason the run defense will come with only positive headlines.