The Jaguars seemed to have the perfect schedule to get off to a good start in the Urban Meyer-Trevor Lawrence era. Then the game kicked off against the Houston Texans, a team expected to be the worst in the NFL. Time to reevaluate. The Jaguars 37-21 season-opening loss puts the rest of the season in question. Here are my four biggest takeaways:
Jaguars ill-prepared and mistake-prone
There were dropped passes, alignment errors, penalties of every variety. There were turnovers and missed interceptions and mental errors. It shouldn’t be surprising that some of these things happen in the first game of a season with a first-time NFL head coach, a rookie quarterback and a defensive coordinator in the role for the first time. But the sheer number of these mistakes showed the Jaguars were not well prepared to play in a regular-season NFL game.
Some good, some bad from Trevor
Lawrence made his first NFL game memorable, if not a work of art. The rookie made some “WOW” throws, including on a third-quarter touchdown pass to DJ Chark. He also made some bad decisions, including on his second interception. It was clear that Lawrence was fired up for the game. That usually shows with high throws, which were an issue for him in the first half.
As I’ve said many times before, this season is all about progress for Lawrence. Is he better in the second month than in the first? Is he better in the second half of the season than the first? Lawrence finished the game completing 28 of 51 passes for 332 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He’ll be expected to be better than that going forward.
The Jaguars’ defense was dominant against the run in the preseason, but against Houston, they gave up 160 rushing yards. They were pushed around by the Texans’ offensive line. The area the Jaguars focused the most on in free agency — at least the area they were able to sign the most players — was the defensive line. Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward signed as free agents. Malcom Brown was acquired in a trade from New Orleans. They added Damien Wilson at linebacker to be tougher against the run. They didn’t show up Sunday in Houston.
Can they bounce back?
When I looked at the schedule and predicted wins and losses before the season, I had this as a win. In fact, I had the Jaguars winning their first two games and three of their first four. After that, the schedule gets tough. It’s vital that the Jaguars turn in a better performance next week when the Broncos come to town. There is an age-old axiom that football teams improve the most between the first and second games. The Jaguars hope that is true in their case.