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The Day After: Saints 23, Jaguars 21

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JACKSONVILLE – A day after, senior writer John Oehser examines what stood out in the Jaguars' 23-21 loss to the New Orleans Saints Monday in a Preseason Week 2 game at the Louisiana Caesars Superdome

  1. The offense has work to do … The Jaguars' first-team offense has yet to score a touchdown in the preseason, and the unit has three first-half points in two preseason games. The Jaguars on Monday produced just 30 yards on their first four series, trailing at that point 14-0. "The starting offense, for two weeks in a row, we are just struggling to get in some rhythm," Head Coach Urban Meyer said.
  2. … and so does the defense. The Jaguars struggled to get a pass rush on Sunday – and they struggled in the secondary early Sunday. Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway caught touchdown passes of 43 and 29 yards in the first quarter, beating Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin deep both times. "We've just got to make sure that we get the corners ready to start to make the plays in man coverage," Meyer said. Said safety Rayshawn Jenkins: "The Saints made some good plays out there tonight. I know a few of those touchdowns you couldn't have a better ball placement or catches."
  3. But there are good signs offensively … The first team offense and quarterback Trevor Lawrence started out of rhythm, but the unit improved late in the first half. The unit drove 53 yards for a 36-yard field goal by Josh Lambo on its fifth series – and Lambo's 43-yarder that missed off the right upright cost the Jaguars points after they drove 50 yards to the Saints 16 on the ensuing drive. Lawrence completed nine of 14 passes for 86 yards on the last two drives of the half.
  4. ... and defensively, too. The Jaguars entered 2021 Training Camp and preseason wanting to improve the run defense. So far, so good. After allowing 41 yards on 26 carries to the Browns in the preseason opener, they allowed 63 yards on 21 carries Monday. Meyer called the run defense: "Pretty solid." Meyer added: "Our defense is built to stop the run." Said Jenkins: "Our run stop is phenomenal right now."
  5. The Jaguars need to improve the running game. The Jaguars rushed for 45 yards on 20 carries Monday. No running back averaged more than 2.6 yards per carry and the Jaguars' long run of the night was second-year running back James Robinson's 10-yarder. "We're not balanced right now," Meyer said.
  6. The Jaguars need their starters on the offensive line. One reason the Jaguars struggled offensively Monday: three starting offensive linemen – center Brandon Linder (knee), guard Andrew Norwell (elbow) and left tackle Cam Robinson – missed the game with injuries. "We've got to get our offensive line back and play better and run the ball," Meyer said. "The New Orleans Saints' defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Meyer added of Cam Robinson: "We thought he could [play], but he just wasn't healthy enough to go tonight. He should be back."
  7. The Jaguars miss Chark. The Jaguars have a talent and potential at wide receiver. What they haven't had in the first two preseason games is the deep threat of fourth-year veteran DJ Chark Jr., something Meyer referenced following the game Monday. "I am counting on him to get back and give us a little bit of a vertical threat down the field," Meyer said. Meyer also mentioned needing to get the ball more to veteran wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II, signed in the offseason to provide the offense a deep threat.
  8. Little is improving. Walker Little, a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, has impressed coaches with his potential and he has the prototypical size and athleticism of an elite tackle. Meyer: "I am really pleased with Walker Little. I think that he has got a great future in the NFL. The first game, his hands were extremely low. He worked very hard on it all week in practice."
  9. Lawrence is tough. After running sparingly against the Browns, one of Lawrence's objectives entering the game was to make more plays with his legs. Lawrence did just – and his nine-yard run converted third-and-7 from the Saints 29 and led to Lambo's first field goal. But Lawrence took a hard shot on the play. "I know what kind of competitor he is," Meyer said. "He's going to get that first down." Lawrence joked afterward: "It was third down, that's the only reason I did it. I thought about (sliding) right there. There was a little pocket to slide, but they mark you back from where you start your slide, so I wouldn't have got the first down. Third and fourth down, you got to get it."
  10. Beathard continues to perform. Jaguars reserve quarterback C.J. Beathard continues to show why the team pursued him as a veteran presence at the position in the offseason. He completed nine of 14 passes for 121 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. He leads the Jaguars with three touchdowns in the preseason.

View top photos from the Jaguars Preseason debut against the New Orleans Saints.

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