JACKSONVILLE – The objective now is clear.
Yes, to make the postseason. But quarterback Trevor Lawrence this week said the way to reach that objective is to do what the Jaguars have done in winning their last three games.
They must do it Sunday. And the next Sunday. And the …
“We have to do it every week,” Lawrence said as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (7-8) prepared to play the Houston Texans (2-12-1) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Jaguars, who can win the South with a victory over the Tennessee Titans in next week's regular-season finale, indeed can show they're gaining consistency when they play in Houston Sunday. They can also win a fourth consecutive game for the first time since December of 2017 and do so against a division rival that in recent seasons has been a nemesis.
The Jaguars have lost nine consecutive meetings with the Texans since sweeping them in 2017. They lost to Houston, 13-6, in Week 5 this season in Jacksonville – the second of five consecutive losses for the Jaguars in October.
"It's an important one because it's the next opportunity we get to play a game," Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen said. "We get to play them where we're at, where we're going right now and how we're feeling. They're the next opportunity, the next opponent.
"I have never beat them, but I think we're a better team than the last time we played against this team. I think we left a lot out there the last time we played them. I think we're a different team than we were back then."
For Lawrence, it's another chance to show progress from early in the season. His improvement since a two-interception Week 8 loss to the Denver Broncos has been dramatic, and he has thrown 14 touchdowns with one interception in leading the Jaguars to a 5-2 record since that game.
Lawrence in the first eight games threw 10 touchdowns with six interceptions, including two interceptions in the loss to then-winless Houston.
"Watching the tape this week going back through it, some of that stuff is hard to watch," Lawrence said. "Offensively and personally, didn't play near my best, and we just left a lot out there. … You don't want to go back and change any of it because I think that's helped get us to here, but obviously for me, definitely want to play better and give us a chance to win obviously.
"All you can ask for is every week to get a little bit better, and that's what we've done."
And now, Lawrence said the objective is clearly to continue to do just that.
"We can't act like we've arrived," he said. "We still haven't clinched anything. We still haven't made the playoffs. We have two games left to continue to prove who we are and put one foot in front of the next and keep stacking these games. We can't look too far ahead and say this is the team we are now. We have to do it every week."
Lawrence added, "That's the mindset for us, and I know the guys believe that, and our mindset is, 'Let's not lose any more this season.' That's what we've got in front of us, that's what we have to do if we want to get to where we want to be. That's the mindset."
- The Jaguars on Monday placed Dawuane Smoot, one of their most versatile and productive defensive linemen, on injured reserve with a torn Achilles. Pederson on Wednesday said outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson will be among multiple players with an increased role in Smoot's absence. Others who Pederson mentioned as needing to fill Smoot's production: Allen, defensive lineman Arden Key and rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker. "We've got those four guys that are going to have to fill that role," Pederson said. Smoot, a sixth-year veteran, had a team-high five sacks through 15 games. Chaisson, the No. 20 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, has 11 starts in 38 games with three sacks and he has played mostly on special teams this season. "He's worked extremely hard," Pederson said of Chaisson. "Now his focus can sort of shift a little bit toward the defense and really make an impact in Smoot's absence. This will be big, this week and next week and if we continue on, but he's put himself in a position to do that."
New field, same hard work. Swipe through photos of the Jaguars Wednesday practice at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville ahead of the Week 17 game against the Houston Texans.