JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan's quick thoughts as the Jaguars prepare to play the Buffalo Bills in a 2021 Week 9 game at TIAA Bank Field Sunday
- Clean it up. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence talked Wednesday about having moved on from what linebacker Myles Jack called an "embarrassing" loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday. Defensive end/outside linebacker Josh Allen talked about it, too. But there is a lesson to be gleaned from that loss – that the Jaguars can't play that sloppily, disregarding details and situations, and expect to win. The Jaguars don't have enough playmakers offensively to consistently come from behind, or to convert bad down-and-distance situations created by penalties. They don't cover well enough – and they haven't been consistent enough anywhere on defense – to overcome unsportsmanlike-conduct or 12-men-on-the-field penalties. This team overall can't cavalierly give away points and yardage and expect to win. If they're going to win, it's going to be in close games. Mistakes such as those committed against Seattle kill in close games. Either way, if they play this Sunday as they did last, it won't be a close game. If they play that way, it will be another "embarrassing" one.
- This was a move about prudence, and the future. The Jaguars this week opted against a trade before the NFL's trade deadline Tuesday at 4 p.m., drawing criticism from fans/observers wanting them to upgrade – particularly at wide receiver. And make no mistake: the need for talent upgrades is real – particularly at wide receiver. But make no mistake about this, either: The lack of a move wasn't about ignoring needs or not wanting to improve. Rather, it was about not wanting short-term needs to trump long-term realities. The biggest reality about the NFL trade deadline is that high-impact moves are relatively rare. The Jaguars did not want to trade future draft capital for the short-term gain of a player who might not be on the roster next year. Right or wrong, that was the reason for Tuesday's silence. They particularly did not want to do this during a 1-6 season, meaning they weren't going to be "buyers" in this market for a player who they would essentially be renting for 10 weeks.
- These Bills are so good no one even mentions their 16 seasons of futility any longer. That's what happens when you have a good plan and patience to build a team to last. General Manager Brandon Beane and Head Coach Sean McDermott started deconstructing the Bills' roster almost immediately in 2017 when they arrived, turning players they didn't want into draft picks. In 2018 they laid the cornerstone with quarterback Josh Allen and started constructing the team they have today. They did it primarily with draft picks but traded for wide receiver Stefon Diggs in 2020 and supplemented with free agency when it made sense. This roster is littered with good young players and their salary cap is in good shape with the quarterback locked up through 2028. They are a perfect franchise for the Jaguars to emulate: a small market with a young quarterback and plenty of draft capital and cap room. Perhaps we can leave the last 14 years with only a single playoff appearance in the rear-view mirror if they do it the right way in Jacksonville.
- The Jaguars can certainly play better. But doesn't mean they'll be a better team. Let's face it: Without speed, the receivers are struggling to get open and the cornerbacks are struggling to stay with the other teams' receivers. This team looks like a team that belongs near the top of next year's draft so they can find players who can ignite this roster. You know what a game-changing player looks like; how many do you think they have? If the Jaguars play smart football, don't turn the ball over – or taunt a player who dragged them seven yards up the field – they can be competitive, which they showed in Cincinnati and for three quarters against Arizona and Tennessee. They probably can't get much better this season because they need better players in key positions. But they certainly can play better and make it much more enjoyable to watch.
- Kinda sorta the same. This week is the Jaguars' toughest matchup of the season. The Bills lead the AFC East, and they lead the NFL in defense and takeaways. With the way the Jaguars are playing, every week is a "tough" opponent – but this is on a different level. Unsurprisingly, that is not how rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence sees it. "Every week, any team can beat you," he said. "You see the Seahawks had lost a few in a row and we came in and laid an egg, played terrible and they killed us. You can get beat any week and you also can beat anyone any week. That is how we look at it." Yes, if the Jaguars play well they have a chance to beat some teams, but I do not see how the Jaguars beat the Bills. Still, Lawrence must think that way – and so must the locker room.
- What now? Jaguars defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen spoke Wednesday about not making the same mistake twice, saying this coaching staff preaches "making new mistakes." Allen was talking about the amount of penalties the Jaguars had on defense against the Seahawks and how they have to learn from them, and not allow them to happen again. That is their only option to stay competitive in Sunday's game against the Bills. The Jaguars are not good enough to overcome self-inflicted wounds against a good team. So… what now? Placing incredibly high importance on playing smart, sound football. If this team does not, it will get ugly.
WEEK 9 · TBD