JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The issues that they needed to address were addressed. The Jaguars needed to fix quite a few things after their struggles to open the season and they did just that.
The Jaguars (1-1) waxed the Colts 24-0 on Sunday, finally putting together a complete performance that ranks as their best in years. It pushed them to the top spot in the AFC South and helped the team scrub away the struggles of an uneven opener.
Doug Pederson said on Monday that the team picked areas to address following a Week 1 loss to the Commanders and refined them during the lead into the Colts game. As a trip to the West Coast to face the Chargers looms, Pederson said the focus now is what’s ahead.
“The message is always going to be the same thing. It’s all about us going 1-0 this week and it doesn’t really matter what we’ve done in the past,” Pederson said. “It’s a short term memory. Each week is a new set of challenges. And so, it’s my job to make sure that the guys stay focused that way and never lose sight of that.”
The jump in performance from the first to second week was significant for the Jaguars, especially true on the defensive side of the ball, where lapses in the opener didn’t happen against Indy. The Jaguars punished quarterback Matt Ryan and never allowed elite running back Jonathan Taylor to get on track. Pederson said that all started at the line of scrimmage and filtered backwards.
“I take what we did in the Washington game, and they learned from that game, and then they came out yesterday and performed well, and they stayed disciplined,” Pederson said.
“Other than the two long runs where there was some communication issues, they stayed really disciplined in their lanes and trusted each other. Backers were downhill. The D line was getting after it in the passing game, putting pressure on Matt [Ryan] all day … was the difference really in the game … from a defensive perspective.”
The results were staggering and unexpected.
Despite mastery over the Colts at home, Jacksonville was still a four-point underdog entering the game. It set the tone immediately. Rayshawn Jenkins intercepted Ryan on the opening drive and the Jaguars turned that into a 10-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to Christian Kirk.
Everything about that first sequence of events was shift from a week earlier. The Jaguars stopped an opponent with defense and turned that into a touchdown. In between, Jacksonville bled more than nine minutes from the clock and converted three of four times on third down, and then another on fourth down.
So much of what Jacksonville worked to address was showcased in the opening quarter and it carried on. It worked on getting the ball out of Trevor Lawrence’s hands quicker. It was more successful on third down and the offensive line protection was much improved.
Tight end Evan Engram said the performance was the result of belief and practice.
“The biggest thing, we expected to go out there and get a victory, and that’s a big part of winning in this league,” Engram said. “Every Sunday is a battle. Every game isn’t promised. So, I think it was just our mentality, like I said, our preparation and our mentality going into the game.”
Lawrence had one of, if not the best single game showing of his 19-game NFL career. He hit his first eight pass attempts of the game and finished 25 of 30 for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
A week earlier, the Jaguars were erratic. They committed 13 penalties for 90 yards and were just 3 of 12 on third down. Against the Colts, the Jaguars were flagged just three times and went 6 of 15 on third down. Lawrence wasn’t sacked and was seldom forced to scramble out of the pocket due to pressure.