Loss with a silver lining: Jaguars move into No. 1 draft position

Jacksonville routed by Texans, but gain draft boost with Detroit’s win

Houston Texans linebacker Chris Smith (92) sacks Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, left, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (Stephen B. Morton, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New coach, same result.

After the most chaotic week in franchise history, the Jaguars went out and turned in an effort similar to many others this season. They scored against the Texans, but not nearly enough. They made in mildly entertaining late and had a shot to tie it in the final minutes, but wound up with a 30-16 loss on a rainy afternoon at TIAA Bank Field.

Jacksonville didn’t relent playing under interim head coach Darrell Bevell, cutting Houston’s lead to a touchdown with just over 11 minutes to play. But the Jaguars whiffed on two potential game-tying drives in the final nine minutes, going three-and-out both times.

Trevor Lawrence underthrew Laquon Treadwell on that first drive which would have kept things going. And Treadwell dropped a third-down conversion on the following drive. The Texans put things out of reach after that on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Davis Mills to Brandin Cooks.

The loss came with a silver lining.

Detroit stunned Arizona 30-12 on Sunday, which took the Lions (2-11-1) out of the No. 1 spot in the draft. With three games to go, Jacksonville (2-12) moved into that spot, followed by Detroit.

Jacksonville visits the Jets next week, followed by a trip to New England and then finishing at home against the Colts.

Draft position is of little consolation to interim coach Darrell Bevell and the rest of the Jacksonville coaching staff, who likely won’t be around next April when the Jaguars go on the clock to make that selection.

The Jaguars were coming off the most turbulent week in franchise history. Last Sunday, they suffered their first shutout loss since 2009, a 20-0 beating at Tennessee. Trevor Lawrence threw a career-worst four interceptions in that game.

Three days later, ex-player Josh Lambo said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times that coach Urban Meyer kicked him during warmups in a preseason game and referred to specialists with vulgar names.

Hours after that interview, owner Shad Khan announced the firing of Meyer early Thursday morning. And later that night, the NFL announced stricter COVID-19 protocols that forced teams to go back to holding meetings via Zoom. For interim coach Bevell, that added up to a week of chaos that he just had to roll with before the Texans came to town.

Yes, those same Texans who were forecast to projected to be the NFL’s worst team this year after the uncertainty around quarterback Deshaun Watson.

They swept the Jaguars.

James Robinson got Jacksonville into the end zone for just the seventh time since the bye week on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter. By that time, the Jaguars were already in a 14-3 hole, largely because of horrendous special teams play.

An Adam Gotsis penalty after Houston punted on its opening drive gave the Texans a new set of downs. It capitalized with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Davis Mills to Brandin Cooks. After Jacksonville countered with a 22-yard Matthew Wright field goal, Tremon Smith took the ensuing kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown.

It was Houston’s first kickoff return for a score since 2009.

Robinson saw his most action since a Week 5 game against the Titans. He finished with 75 yards rushing on 18 carries and the team’s lone touchdown.

Lawrence had another uneven game for the Jaguars. He was held without a passing touchdown for the seventh time this season. Lawrence finished 22 of 38 for 210 yards.

For the Jaguars, Bevell should have a better handle on the interim coaching role next week. He’d spent the season calling plays in the booth and hadn’t coached on the sideline since serving in the interim role last year with the Lions. Bevell said this week that he’d make a decision on how things would look going forward after Jacksonville got through the Texans game.

Meyer’s ouster was the biggest sports news in the country in the latter half of the week. He told the NFL Network in a Saturday interview that he was “heartbroken” over how his time in Jacksonville ended. The Associated Press reported that the Jaguars fired Meyer “for cause,” meaning that they will look to avoid paying him for the remainder of what his contract called for.

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.