JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2022 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday
- Despite losing five consecutive games, the Jaguars are on the verge of emerging as a playoff contender in the AFC. This team not only has taken every game this season into the fourth quarter with a chance to win, the Jaguars can point to self-inflicted mistakes as the primary reasons for their 2-6 record. Against the Broncos, they committed a series of "DBO" (Don't Beat Ourselves) errors that proved costly in another one-score game. From quarterback Trevor Lawrence's turnovers, particularly his red-zone interception, to cornerback Tre Herndon's poor coverage on Broncos wide receiver K.J. Hamler's 47-yard reception with three minutes remaining, the Jaguars gift-wrapped another win to their opponent. As losers of nine consecutive one-score games, including six in 2022, the Jaguars could have flipped the script on the losing narrative hanging over the franchise. With more attention to detail and a greater understanding of how to win games, this team could chalk up wins without major changes to their roster or philosophical approach.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- The Broncos won due to a series of self-inflicted mistakes that cost the Jaguars dearly in the end. Lawrence's red-zone interception prevented the Jaguars from taking a 14-0 lead that would have put the Broncos behind the eight-ball. Although the Jaguars responded with a quick stop and a field goal to push the lead to 10-0, the four-point swing came back to haunt the team in the end.
- For all the progress the former No. 1 overall selection has made this season, red-zone blunders and costly mistakes from the second-year pro have hurt the Jaguars' playoff chances this season. Lawrence's turnovers have played a major role in at least three losses (Philadelphia, Houston and Denver) and his teammates are certainly looking at him with raised eyebrows as he repeats the same mistakes in the red zone. While everyone understands his mistakes are part of a maturing process that could help him develop into an elite quarterback down the road, it is hard to ignore his role in the team's five-game losing streak.
- Running back Travis Etienne Jr. is the real deal. The second-year pro has let the football world know that he is ready to join the ranks of the elite at his position with 100-plus scrimmage yards in four straight games. Etienne has not only flashed the speed, burst and explosiveness to produce big plays as a runner, but he has displayed the versatility to validate the pre-draft comparisons to Alvin Kamara. As a dynamic runner-receiver with home-run potential, Etienne is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. With Head Coach Doug Pederson slowly building the offense around his talents, the Jaguars' RB1 has emerged as the team's top offensive weapon.
- The offense is starting to find its identity with Etienne emerging as a superstar in the backfield. The second-year pro tallied 159 scrimmage yards on 27 touches in a spectacular effort that showcased his big-play ability and toughness as a playmaker. With Etienne steadying the offense with a mix of inside and outside runs, the Jaguars were able to scratch out enough points to win a game against one of the NFL's stingiest defenses. Although Lawrence and the passing game needed to add a few more splash plays to put the team over the top, the offense played well enough to win without Lawrence' costly turnovers and critical misfires on key downs. If this unit can become more consistent as a balanced or complementary offense that is capable of relying on the run or pass, it will be hard for opponents to handle the diversity of the Jaguars' personnel or philosophical approach.
- It is hard to fault defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell for the Jaguars' defensive effort against the Broncos. The defense contained the running game and forced a struggling Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson to make critical plays to win. Although the secondary surrendered a few deep balls and the frontline allowed the veteran to escape the pocket in key moments, the overall play of the unit would grade out as a winning performance in most instances. Sure, you would like to see Herndon keep the ball from flying over the top of the defense in the game's waning moments, but the defensive game plan and effort was solid from start to finish.