JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2021 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 31-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in a 2021 Week 8 game at Lumen Field in Seattle, Wash.
The Jaguars laid an egg in Seattle despite having extra time to prepare for a team playing with a backup quarterback. Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, making a third consecutive start for Russell Wilson, started the game on fire as the Seahawks took an early lead and controlled the action from the opening kick. The Jaguars looked out of sorts with penalties, miscues and mental blunders standing out in a performance that looked like a preseason game for the visitors.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The Seahawks were able to cruise to a 31-7 win behind a sizzling start from Smith. The veteran quarterback connected on 14 consecutive passes to start the game before finishing 20-of-24 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks were able to get their top playmakers involved in the passing game with wide receiver Tyler Lockett posting a 100-yard day (142) on 12 receptions and wide receiver DK Metcalf scoring two touchdowns on the perimeter. The Seahawks' defense surrendered seven points and forced Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence into a miserable day as the Jaguars chased points most of the day.
The No.1 overall pick was forced to carry the offensive load for most of the day after running back James Robinson's heel injury. The one-dimensional game plan resulted in Lawrence completing just 32 of 54 passes for 238 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Although the completion rate is impressive for a pass-heavy game plan, the lack of explosive plays suggests the Jaguars lack the firepower to attack teams primarily through the air. With Lawrence forced to throw into underneath coverage to an assortment of pass catchers with limited big-play ability, the Jaguars' passing game failed to threaten a Seahawks defense that has struggled for most of the season.
Jaguars wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew continues to be a bright spot this season as an emerging offensive weapon and established all-star return specialist. The veteran finished the day with six catches for 38 yards with a nine-yard touchdown reception. Despite the pedestrian numbers, Agnew continues to impress as a slot receiver with enough wiggle and burst to create separation against tight coverage. As the Jaguars upgrade the playmakers around him, it is possible that he could become a key third-down option as a WR3 or WR4 in the future.
The loss of Robinson early in the game exposed how much the Jaguars rely on the running back to anchor the offense. Without the workhorse in the backfield, the Jaguars were forced to utilize a pass-heavy game plan that put too much on Lawrence's plate. Although the rookie is certainly capable of making plays in the passing game, the lack of balance enabled the Seahawks to play soft coverage to take away the intermediate and vertical throws while forcing the quarterback to settle for check downs early and often. Against good teams, the Jaguars have not been able to consistently move the ball up and down the field. If the Jaguars are going to win more games, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will need to figure out a way to buck the trend going forward.
The Jaguars' lack of pass rush and consistent coverage makes it hard for defensive coordinator Joe Cullen to come up with a plan that works against veteran quarterbacks. Smith took advantage of the lack of pressure and soft coverage by conducting a seven-on-seven passing session against the Jaguars with the ball finding the Seahawks' top targets on the perimeter. With the Seahawks rarely threatened by the Jaguars' offense, Smith and Co. relied on a conservative game plan that kept the clock running while mustering enough plays to put points on the board. It is up to Cullen and the defense to find a way to get stops, but the unit was unable to get it done on Sunday.