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With Bills headed to town, Jaguars have to refocus quickly

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer reacts to a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear) (Stephen Brashear, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The road trip was a bust for the Jaguars. Will coming back home be any better?

Fresh off a humiliating loss at Seattle on Sunday, the Jaguars need to find a quick fix to their myriad problems as one of the league’s best teams prepared to head to TIAA Bank Field on Sunday.

How can Jacksonville (1-6) turn things around after another sluggish performance before the Bills (5-2) visit this weekend? Coach Urban Meyer and staff have a slew of problems to work on after the Seahawks tore through them 31-7. Jacksonville didn’t look prepared or focused against Seattle, a serious problem because of how much time the team had to prepare.

The Jaguars were coming off a bye week.

The sliver of good news Monday was that running back James Robinson’s heel injury isn’t thought to be serious. Meyer said that Robinson’s heel was bruised and that his return was expected to be much sooner than expected.

The bad news is that the Jaguars are still a team that struggles to put consistent performances together. After weeks of positive strides, capped by a Week 6 win over the Dolphins in London to snap a 20-game losing streak, the Jaguars regressed Sunday afternoon.

There were a dozen penalties. The run game disappeared after Robinson left. There were two dropped passes on third down. And quarterback Trevor Lawrence never got comfortable in the pocket because of consistent pressure.

The struggles between Lawrence and his receivers were amplified against Seattle because of Robinson’s absence erased any semblance of a rushing attack. That put the onus on Lawrence and the wideouts to make plays, which they didn’t. The struggles of the receivers weren’t limited to just Sunday’s game.

“I just had the team meeting, there’s no secret pill or there’s no secret t-shirt you can wear. It’s hard work and I call it the snapshot — putting those players in position in practice so they’ve dealt with that,” Meyer said. “But we didn’t throw and catch yesterday very well. The week before, we threw and caught very well. [It’s] hard work and the quarterback being on the same page with the wide receivers, which at times, they weren’t yesterday. We had a couple issues that were glaring.”

There’s little time to fix the numerous issues plaguing the Jaguars. The Bills are headed to TIAA Bank Field on Sunday. Buffalo has the league’s No. 5 overall offense (402.9 yards per game) and the No. 1 overall defense (269 ypg).

That defense should worry the Jaguars. Seattle entered its game against Jacksonville with the second-worst defense in the league, allowing 415 ypg. The Jaguars had 309 total yards against the Seahawks, the bulk of that in garbage time with the game already decided.

Another significant cause for concern — Jacksonville’s pass defense. The Jaguars have proven unable to slow down opposing quarterbacks. Geno Smith connected on his first 14 passes against Jacksonville.

Geno Smith!

This season, quarterbacks have gone 168 for 227 against the Jaguars for 2,029 yards, 11 TDs and just two interceptions. That’s a 74% completion rate. The unit needed a significant upgrade in the offseason and didn’t get one, despite spending two high draft picks and then adding two others in free agency.

“We kind of went in with a rebuild. We had Tyson [Campbell] a high draft pick, you’ve got Shaq [Shaquill Griffin], who has played very well, and you have [Rayshawn Jenkins] and then [Andrew] Wingard and we’ve got to get [Andre] Cisco ready as well,” Meyer said.

“So, we knew that was an area that needed to be somewhat rebuilt and I see it coming. I’m still positive because I still see some good things. But it’s time to make those plays.”

Meyer said that the Jaguars remain plugged in to the conversation as the trade deadline approaches but didn’t specify if the team would be active one way or another. The trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m.

“Obviously, we’re listening. It’s real interesting. it’s my first time listening to those conversations between general managers and that’s going on now, this time of year,” he said.

“Oh, I can’t comment on that because I don’t really know yet. It depends on if it can make the Jaguars better. That’s, I guess, the ‘coach speak.’ If it can make us better, we’re certainly listening and there’s some certain needs we have and there’s other needs we don’t have. We do have some draft capital for next year.”


About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.