DETROIT, Mich. -- Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 40-14 loss to the Detroit Lions in a 2022 Week 13 game at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., Sunday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- At least he's OK.There were multiple Jaguars storylines Sunday, none positive. And there's no way to ignore a defense that allowed scores on all eight Lions possessions until a late-game kneel possession and never gave an offense that struggled Sunday a chance to get back in the game. But the No. 1 and Absolutely Most Important Storyline Sunday was that quarterback Trevor Lawrence returned in the second half to play the third and fourth quarters after sustaining a frightening hit on the final play of the first half. Lawrence, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown Sunday, lay on the field several minutes then walked from the field along with other Jaguars players. He jogged to the Jaguars' sidelines as the Lions drove on the first possession of the third quarter. He played with no apparent effects from the hit in the second half. And while the Jaguars lost Sunday – and while the defense played abysmally by any measure – what mattered was the foundation of the franchise returned. His development remains the most important storyline this season. Now, that can continue in the final month and a half of the season.
- 2.Not quite yet.It's time to put the postseason talk away – for the short-term, anyway. The Jaguars, after a come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens at TIAA Bank Field last week, spent this past week talking about a seven-game season and about their goals for the season still being attainable. And credit to them for having earned their way into that sort of talk with two victories in their last three games. But Sunday's performance at Detroit had a decidedly different – and surprising – feel from the beginning. "It's just embarrassing," Lawrence said afterward, and Pederson along with Jaguars players in the locker room struggled to explain the performance. The improved, surging Lions scored on all eight possessions until kneeling and further exposed a Jaguars defense that has struggled much of the season after a promising start. And an early fumble by running back Travis Etienne Jr. gave the Lions an extra possession, a 7-0 lead and momentum the Jaguars never regained. This Jaguars team can still finish the season strong. The guess here is it will, and that Lawrence will get back to high-end performances that defined the last month. But they'll have to re-earn the right to talk about the postseason.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- Time to think about what's next.The defense has gone downhill since Week 3 in Los Angeles and has blown fourth-quarter leads this season to the Washington Commanders, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. On Sunday, the Lions scored on every single possession until they ran out the clock with less than a minute to play. The Jaguars couldn't pressure Lions quarterback Jared Goff, couldn't cover wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown – who looked like Jerry Rice – and couldn't stop running backs Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift when the Lions did put the ball on the ground. In the last two years, the club has invested huge money in Roy Robertson-Harris, Foye Oluokun, Foley Fatukasi, Rayshawn Jenkins, Shaq Griffin and Darious Williams in free agency and spent high draft picks on Travon Walker, Devin Lloyd, Chad Muma, Tyson Campbell and Andre Cisco. Most alarming is that Walker, Lloyd and Muma aren't getting better; they shouldn't look so completely lost in December. These are guys who can all play. but they're not playing well. Since they're locked into these players with a tight salary cap in 2023. change must come from somewhere else. They must do something different on defense because there is no sign of improvement on that side of the football.
- Make a play? The Lions made a big play early with the strip on Etienne on the opening drive of the game. They followed it up when St. Brown focused on the ball to pull in a twice-tipped pass to set up first-and-goal and a one-yard touchdown. There were three defensive players in the area and none of them made a play to simply knock the ball away. On the Jaguars' second drive, Lawrence hit wide receiver, Zay Jones, on the in-cut. Jones had a chance to set the Jaguars up with first-and-goal to tie the score. Instead, he dropped the ball – one of his four drops on what for him was an awful day. It went that way throughout the first half as the Jaguars dropped passes and missed seemingly every opportunity to climb back into the game. No one made a play on either side of the ball in Detroit Sunday. That's shocking considering this was essentially a playoff game. You would expect guys to play their best with something on the line. They did not.