Four takeaways: Defense and playcalling prove these Jaguars are different

Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts a pass during the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) (Sean M. Haffey, 2022 Getty Images)

The Jaguars crossed the country and beat a team considered a potential Super Bowl contender, topping the Chargers in Los Angeles 38-10. Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game:

This defense is for real

The Jaguars defense dominated the Chargers from the start. In the first quarter, Jacksonville limited LA to just 22 yards. By the time the fourth quarter began, Justin Herbert and Co. had scored only 10 points. After shutting out the Colts last week, the Jaguars picked up right where they left off and did it against a more potent offense (albeit, one without its top wide receiver and starting center and a quarterback playing injured). And they did it on the road. It’s not exactly Sacksonville just yet, but there is no doubt that this team is a defense-first team right now.

Creative play design and play calling

From unusual formations to unique ways to utilize talent, Doug Pederson, offensive coordinator Press Taylor and the rest of the offensive staff have created a scheme that makes it difficult for opposing defenses to diagnose what the Jaguars are doing. Whether that’s an inside handoff to the tight end, lining up Travis Etienne in the wildcat with Jamal Agnew in the backfield or using misdirection to slow down the defense, it’s clear that this is an offense for the 21st century. We have not seen this kind creative and explosive offense since Mark Brunell was throwing to Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell and Fred Taylor was running the ball. The Jaguars offense has been stale for so long, but no more.

What West Coast issues?

The Jaguars have historically struggled in the Pacific Time Zone, but on Sunday, Jacksonville started fast, sustained the lead, and wore down the Chargers, who lost pass rusher Joey Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater during the game. Yes, bad teams tend to lose on the road, regardless of how many time zones they cross. But considering the opponent, this was a statement win for the Jaguars, who had not won a road game since Gardner Minshew and company beat the Raiders in the last game played in Oakland in 2019.

What’s next?

The AFC South-leading Jaguars will travel to Philadelphia next week. While the Eagles have gotten off to a 3-0 start, there’s no reason to think the Jaguars can’t keep winning. It is clear that Pederson has done more than simply steady the ship. When the season began, I thought this could be a six- or seven-win team. Now, they have a chance to start the season winning three out of four.