Four takeaways: Toothless defense headlines an awul day for the Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) is tackled by Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph (31) and linebacker Derrick Barnes (55) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) (Duane Burleson, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Where to begin? Coming off a win over the division leading Baltimore Ravens, the Jaguars traveled to Detroit and were never in a 40-14 loss to the Lions. Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game.

Trevor Lawrence’s toughness

On the last play of the first half, Trevor Lawrence was sacked by James Houston. On the play, Lawrence’s left foot stuck in the artificial surface at Ford Field and twisted his left knee. He stayed on the field as the half ended. He then limped to the locker room. Lawrence came back in and started the second half, never missing a snap. For a few minutes, it felt like the worst possible combination of a teams performance and an injury to the young franchise quarterback. The show of toughness is a major plus, albeit in a loss.

The drops return

One week after the receiving corps enjoyed their best day of the season, the drops were evident. Zay Jones dropped three passes in the first half. Evan Engram had a pass that could have been a first-down catch.  Detroit also had a couple of drops but the Lions were able to overcome them. The Jaguars did not.

Receiver running open

It’s becoming clear that the Jaguars top need this offseason is at cornerback. Tyson Campbell, though he gave up a touchdown on Sunday, is set at one spot. But most of this season, the other cornerback spot has been a weak point. Whether Shaq Griffin, Tre Herndon, Buster Brown or Tevaughn Campbell, opposing teams, particularly those with veteran quarterbacks, have been able exploit the Jaguars in the passing game. It hasn’t just been the cornerbacks. The Jaguars linebackers have also struggled in coverage as we saw on Sunday.

Where’s the pressure?

The Jaguars tried several personnel combinations to try to create pressure on Jared Goff, but it was infrequent at best. Josh Allen and Travon Walker lined up next to each other on several plays. Walker slid inside in a four-man front at times. Arden Key and Dawaune Smoot lined up at end in a four-man line. The Jaguars did not consistently win in the pass rush game. The lack of pressure and the inability of the Jaguars defense to get off the field — the Lions scored on all eight of their possessions until a final kneeldown on their ninth — meant the game was over early.

About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.