Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 37-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in a 2021 Week 13 game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday
- Week after week after week. This isn't a surprise anymore, but the Jaguars' offense – which has struggled mightily since a Week 7 bye – did so again in a big way Sunday. The lone exception: a remarkably effective second-quarter drive that kept the game interesting through halftime. Credit rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence on that drive with three clutch conversions – one running on third down, one passing on fourth down and another passing on third down – with running back Carlos Hyde's one-yard run making it 10-7, Rams, early in the second quarter. But Lawrence and a wide receiver corps that struggles to catch and make big plays was ineffective other than that, with the offense going three and out on five of its first seven possessions, and losing a fumble on its first possession. The unit had 83 yards at halftime, 153 yards through three quarters and finished with 197 – the third time this season the offense has been held to 200 yards or less. This has been the story of the second half of the season, one that doesn't feel like it will change until significant personnel changes happen in the offseason. "We couldn't get anything going," Lawrence said. "We have to play better. We have to move the ball. We have to make plays. We're trying to figure that out."
- Credit the defense – for a while. There was little to say positive about this loss – particularly as a competitive game in the second quarter slid away in an avalanche of Rams touchdowns in the third and early fourth quarter. But the Jaguars' defense did an admirable job of keeping the game close early in difficult circumstances. The Rams' first two possessions began on the Jaguars' 34 and 27 because of a 65-yard return on the game's opening kickoff and a lost fumble by running back James Robinson. That meant the Rams drove 39 yards for their first 10 points. The only Rams touchdown of the first half came on that 27-yard drive that ended with a one-yard run by running back Sony Michel. That storyline changed in the second half when Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp looked like what he is – one of the NFL's best at his position. But this felt more like a defense doing all it could for a stretch then having no more to give, rather than a bad effort.
- No offense, but there's no offense. When the game was close in the second quarter, the Jaguars needed their offense to do something, anything. You could feel the Rams waiting to explode. But Lawrence and Co. went three and out on three consecutive drives after Hyde's touchdown and left the defense hanging – though the unit held the Rams to a third field goal to keep the Rams' halftime lead a manageable 16-7. But a fourth consecutive three and out, this one to open the third quarter, sunk the Jaguars' hopes to make a game of it. You would like to think the addition of speed in the offseason will fix the Jaguars' offense. But watching the Rams make everything look easy while the Jaguars made everything look like rocket science, I believe they need more than just a few receivers. It's tough to say it needs an overhaul in Head Coach Urban Meyer's first season, but I'm hard pressed to find anything on offense the club can hang its hat on other than the quarterback.
- Five games remain and the Jaguars aren't getting better. That's troubling. This season isn't about the record, and I didn't expect the Jaguars to go west and beat the Rams – who are in the thick of the NFC playoff race. But I expected this team to start playing better and more competitively by this point of the season. That's not happening. See above for the issues on offense. What about this defense? They looked like an ascending unit after strong showings against the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts – and I thought it could help this team play complementary football down the stretch. Instead, it has disappeared up front – and Rams wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee turned the back end inside out in the second half Sunday. The defense desperately needs to show signs of life in the final weeks so it has something it can point to as it heads into the offseason. It would be nice not to feel as if the Jaguars are starting at Square One defensively again next fall.
- Nothing is working. This offense … yikes. Besides one second-quarter drive, the offense could get absolutely nothing going. When there was a smidge of potential for momentum, fumbles occurred. Both Hyde and Robinson fumbled Sunday. The offense is at an all-time low in productivity. Coaches and players talked all week about the new hurry-up offense with more run-pass options included … that didn't work in this game. There are so many questions on creativity in play calling, clock management, key players like Robinson not being on the field for three consecutive drives … moments that make you scratch your head. "We have a lot more to offer," Lawrence said. "If we knew the answer… we would do that." The problem is, I don't know if anyone has the answer on how you can fix this offense right now.
- Doing what they can. The Jaguars' defense kept the game in check in the first half and gave the Jaguars offense an opportunity to do something about it. They couldn't. After horrid field position with a 65-yard kick return to start the game, the Jags' defense held the Rams to a field goal. On the next offensive drive, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald rag-dolled James Robinson, who fumbled – and the defense was right back on the field. This defense gets zero breaks, yet weekly keeps the Jaguars in games until they can't do it anymore. The defense held the Rams to 0-for-6 on third down in the first half, which was plenty of opportunity for the offense to return the favor. Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot said Sunday the biggest thing that the defense is emphasizing is starting fast with some momentum. With many things to work on, fixing that could help with the overall confidence level on the sidelines, but I don't know if it would be enough to result in more wins for this team.