JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2022 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 27-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday
- The Chiefs game was viewed as a measuring stick by the Jaguars. How the team fared against the perennial contenders would let the coaches and front-office executives know how far the team is from vying for a playoff spot in a loaded AFC. After watching the Jaguars blow a prime opportunity to beat the Chiefs on the road, the Jaguars should feel better about the team's progress and roster construction. Although the loss exposed some personnel flaws (A-plus pass rusher, secondary depth and a big play/speedy wideout), the Jaguars' ability to keep the game close suggests the team is not far from joining the ranks of the elite with a few more blue-chip players.
** KEYS TO VICTORY**
- The Jaguars will regret failing to take advantage of opportunities against the Chiefs. The team failed to convert a series of turnovers into touchdowns and the points left on the field were the difference in the game. From the onside kick recovery that set the team up with outstanding early field position to the failure to convert a kickoff-return fumble into three points (missed field goal attempt) at the end of the half, the Jaguars did not take advantage of the gift-wrapped scoring chances the Chiefs handed them in the first half. Against a team with a high-powered offense and an MVP-caliber quarterback, the failure to put "gimme" points on the board is a recipe for disaster.
- Quarterback Trevor Lawrence continues to progress as a playmaker from the pocket. Lawrence completed 29 of 40 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The second-year veteran patiently worked against the Chiefs' blitz tactics without pressing the issue with a high-risk throw into traffic. In addition, Lawrence's willingness to spread the ball around (eight different receivers with at least one catch against the Chiefs) forced the Chiefs to defend the field from sideline to sideline. Although Lawrence took five sacks and faced constant pressure, the poise and composure displayed by the young quarterback is another step in the right direction.
** UNSUNG HERO**
- Andre Cisco is quietly developing into one of the top safeties in the NFL. The second-year veteran has settled in as a starter and flashed outstanding range, ball skills and awareness as a centerfielder. Cisco's improved toughness and physicality have enabled him to act as an enforcer between the hashes, particularly with the Jaguars playing more zone-based concepts that allow him to maintain vision on the quarterback and ball. With a handful of games remaining on the schedule, the rangy safety has a chance to make a run at an all-star spot with a few more splash plays on his highlight reel.
** OFFENSIVELY SPEAKING**
- The Chiefs' ability to contain running back Travis Etienne Jr. bogged down a Jaguars offense that has moved the ball consistently most of the season. The Chiefs halted the Jaguars' momentum with a game plan that focused on keeping Etienne under wraps by any means necessary. The Jaguars must take advantage of future overaggressive run looks and blitzes by punishing the defense for playing one-on-one on the outside or bringing additional defenders near the line of scrimmage. Although Lawrence made several pinpoint throws under duress, the young quarterback and his pass catchers need to produce more big plays in the passing game to discourage future opponents from selling out to contain Etienne.
- The Chiefs' collection of offensive talent tested not only tested the depth of the Jaguars' roster, it also exploited some of the tactics Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell would prefer to utilize against teams. With the Chiefs having explosive receivers on the perimeter with outstanding "catch-and-run" skills, the Jaguars are unable to extensively play man-to-man on the outside without surrendering a big play to a superior player. Although the Jaguars' zone coverage kept Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes from taking deep shots, the lack of a persistent pass rush enabled the former NFL MVP to pick apart the defense with an assortment of underneath throws at short and intermediate depths. The "connect-the-dots" strategy employed by the Chiefs allowed them to move the ball up and down the field in a methodical fashion to control the game.