JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars are looking to ditch a couple streaks on Sunday.
They haven’t won back-to-back games since the midway point of the 2019 season. And they haven’t played particularly well on the West Coast in, well, ever. The Jaguars could bury both of those Sunday afternoon when they visit the Chargers at 4:05 p.m.
A win would put the Jaguars above .500 for the first time since Week 1 of the 2020 season. They won their opener that year and lost their next 15 games. They haven’t managed to win consecutive games — an actual winning streak — since beating the Bengals and Jets Oct. 20 and 27, 2019.
Looming larger than that is Jacksonville’s historically inept performance on the West Coast.
The Jaguars have played 18 games on the West Coast and haven’t done well in those. They enter the Los Angeles showdown with a 3-15 record in the Pacific time zone. There’s also the unknown about what quarterback the Jaguars will be facing. Chargers starter Justin Herbert suffered a rib cartilage injury last week and his status is still up in the air. Should Herbert not be able to go, the Jaguars would face Chase Daniel.
If Herbert plays, his injury doesn’t change the intensity that the Jaguars need to have, coach Doug Pederson said.
“We’ve got to focus on our job and focus on the details of the defense and each week try to get hits on the quarterback. That’s part of the game,” Pederson said. “I don’t think you go out of your way to do anything because that’s when you get beat, when you try to do something or take things into your own hands that way.”
The Jaguars (1-1) are coming off their first shutout since the 2018 season, a 24-0 blowout of the Colts. They picked off quarterback Matt Ryan three times in that game and have now forced six turnovers through two weeks. They had just nine in 17 games last year. That performance was significant but Pederson has driven home the point just how important it is to move on.
“It’s the so what, now what, so it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past,” Pederson said. “Win or lose, what are you going to do now with it, with that information? How are you going to get better as a football team and move forward? You can’t live in the past. History is history, you learn from it, but you move on.”
Some of the major contributors for the Jaguars are learning as they go.
Jacksonville has eight players in the starting lineup with three or less years of experience. Three rookies start (Luke Fortner, Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker). While Fortner has struggled in spots, those three have done well collectively. Walker, the No. 1 overall pick, had a sack and an interception in his first game. Lloyd notched his first career pick and was the highest-graded rookie by Pro Football Focus in Week 2. Pederson said that while the Jaguars may be young in spots, that youth doesn’t mean much once the games begin.
“Not really, because honestly, you’ve got to grow up quickly in this league. Things go fast. Games happen. Here we are again getting ready to leave tomorrow, and we’re right back into a game,” he said. “These guys don’t have time to be young, and they’re growing up right in front of us.”
One thing the Jaguars hope to carry over from the Indy game is the protection for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Jacksonville has faced two very strong defensive fronts and will again against the Chargers. Jacksonville was able to negate some of that pressure on Lawrence last week with quick reaction and throws from Lawrence.
“He’ll have to play the whole game that way, honestly. It’s a good front and good edge pressure. They can pressure with their backers inside and really put guys in the lap of your quarterback, so we’ve got to be smart about it. We’ve got to understand it. Our offensive line is ready to go. They’ve had a good two days so far, and it’s going to be fun to watch them play.