Jaguars have to refocus quickly after offensive struggles against Chiefs

Struggling Texans visiting EverBank Stadium in Week 3

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Peterson signals to players during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars hoped to show the NFL world that they had turned the corner against one of the league’s best teams. What played out on Sunday was more evidence that Jacksonville is still very much a work in progress.

A packed house at EverBank Stadium hoped to see how much ground the Jaguars had made against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. And just like last season, Jacksonville still came up painfully short in a 17-9 loss. Jacksonville has to refocus quickly with the Texans (0-2) coming to town on Sunday. The Jaguars are a 9.5-point favorite, but they have historically struggled against Houston. Their worst performance last year came in a Week 5 loss to the Texans, a 13-6 quagmire that was the last time Jacksonville had been held without a touchdown until the Chiefs game.

“It’s not a long-term concern at all, it kind of reminded me of the Houston game last year here, where we didn’t play very well and lost that football game,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Listen, it’s Week 2, it’s one game and half of the league lost yesterday. We were one of the teams to lose. We’re still right where we want to be, you’re still 1-0 in the division with a division game this week. A lot of football ahead of us still.”

The Jaguars (1-1) had their worst offensive performance in nearly a year. They had three trips inside the red zone and didn’t find the end zone. One of those went as deep as the Kansas City 1 but wound up as a 22-yard Brandon McManus field goal. Trevor Lawrence and the offense just never found their rhythm. The ground game had just 18 carries. Lawrence was sacked four times. And he had four passes in the end zone — two apiece to Zay Jones and Calvin Ridley — where the receivers caught but couldn’t get both feet down and inbounds.

“Just because I think it was that struggle all day, just maybe not getting in rhythm or in-sync, even in the passing game, just being off,” Pederson said. “Timing of routes, depth of routes, the protection being a little off, helping out when the backs can help out on D-ends, being able to do all of that.”

The defense was rock solid against the high-powered Chiefs. Jacksonville had two takeaways on defense and another on special teams that Tim Jones recovered at the Kansas City 17. They only managed a field goal out of that.

“I’m still thinking about the game, there’s a lot of things that we need to work on. A lot of good areas, a lot of bad areas that we need to sharpen and fix together,” said defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi. “At the end of the day, we just have to continue to execute what we need to do and it was tough but we got another pretty good opponent coming in here, so we got to keep our mind focused on that.”

The defense has been one of the bright spots thus far. It allowed just two touchdowns against the Colts in Week 1, and limited Patrick Mahomes to just two touchdowns on Sunday. That unit has played well enough to be 2-0.

“It just felt like that was the struggle and then ultimately trying to make a play, you press just a little bit, coaches try to do the same thing,” Pederson said. “We try to make a play or try to make a call that’s going to get us a chunk play and really we all need to stick with the gameplan.”

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.