JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2022 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 27-20 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
- The Jaguars have learned a lot of valuable lessons in their spate of one-score losses this season. The team finally applied some of those lessons in overcoming a 17-point lead to earn their third win of the season. The Jaguars displayed an impressive combination of toughness (mental and physical), resilience and composure bouncing back from a slow start to claim a win with a strong second-half effort. Although the performance was far from perfect, it is the kind of win that can build some momentum within the locker room and result in a string of victories if the team continues to buy into the "DBO" (Don't Beat Ourselves) tenets that Head Coach Doug Pederson and Co. are preaching daily. By avoiding turnovers, limiting big plays and reducing pre-snap and foolish penalties, the Jaguars will start to win consistently with the talent on this roster.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- The Jaguars earned a hard-fought victory over the Raiders by sticking to the script. The offense featured running back Travis Etienne Jr. as the primary playmaker and relied on quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Co. to complement his efforts with timely passes. The combination of a strong running game and ball-control aerial attack enabled the Jaguars to move the ball efficiently once the unit found its rhythm. With Lawrence placed in a complementary role instead of operating as the primary playmaker, the Jaguars' QB1 thrived in a game plan that featured a mix of high-percentage passes and few designed runs. Defensively, the Jaguars utilized more matchup zone coverages to eliminate some of the coverage busts and faulty execution that led to big plays in prior games. The conservative coverage kept the Raiders' offense in check despite the big numbers put up by Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams in the first half. Although Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell scaled back on the blitzes, he dialed up a few overload pressures in key moments to help the Jaguars win a few "money" downs (third down) down the stretch.
- The Jaguars' franchise quarterback played one of the best games of his career against the Raiders. Lawrence completed 25 of 31 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown. Though the numbers aren't jaw-dropping, the efficiency and effectiveness of the Jaguars' passing game suggest the second-year pro was comfortable and confident with the game plan. In addition, Lawrence's 53 rushing yards forced the Raiders to defend the entire field while taking advantage of the quarterback's underrated athleticism. If Lawrence can continue to follow the script from this game and apply to future contests, the Jaguars will start to reel off wins and establish an offensive identity.
- It is hard to call Etienne an unsung hero when he has clearly emerged as the offense's No. 1 option. The second-year pro has developed into a Top 5 running back with an explosive game that forces defensive coordinators to rewrite their game plans. Etienne's versatility has resulted in five straight games with 100-plus scrimmage yards, including three consecutive 100-yard rushing days. As the Jaguars begin to lean into a running back-centric attack with Etienne positioned as the centerpiece, the perimeter playmakers (wideouts and tight ends) are cast into roles that are better suited for their talents as complementary weapons.
- It appears Pederson has evaluated his personnel and tweaked his recent game plans to feature Etienne as the centerpiece of the offense. The second-year pro has touched the ball at least 19 times in each of the past three games with the Jaguars committed to getting him 25-plus opportunities each week. With Etienne established as the focal point of the offense, the Jaguars have been able to build a complementary passing game around his skills that incorporates wide receivers Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram into the plan on a variety of high-percentage passing plays at short- and intermediate range. Although the big-play element is still missing from the offense, the improved efficiency and effectiveness of the unit could make this approach the standard going forward.
- The Jaguars subtly tweaked their defensive philosophy to eliminate some of the issues that have cost the team games this season. Caldwell featured more match-up zone schemes in the back end to minimize the one-on-one opportunities for his cornerbacks. In addition, the Jaguars utilized some two-high shells to discourage Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from taking deep shots down the boundary. Although the "bend-but-don't-break" approach concedes yardage, the elimination of the deep ball and explosive play makes it harder for opponents to put points on the board. With the Jaguars' defense showing improvement in the red zone, the conservative approach keeps the team in the game and reduces the self-inflicted mistakes that have led to previous losses.