AFC South Reporter
Many NFL observers crowned the Jaguars’ offense entering this season. The league watched what Jacksonville did in late 2022 — with Trevor Lawrence’s soaring efficiency and dependable pass-catchers coupled with terrific playcalling — and assumed it would hit the stratosphere to start this season. And how could one think any other way? The Jaguars were adding Calvin Ridley, a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver, to an already dynamic offensive cast in Year 2 with Doug Pederson.
With continuity, the offense was expected to produce fireworks.
We’re still waiting for them to light the sky.
The Jaguars offense has struggled amid the team’s 1-1 start to the season. Jacksonville scored 31 points in a road win against divisional-rival Indianapolis in Week 1, but the big story was all that it left on the field. On Sunday, a 17-9 home loss to Kansas City, the Jaguars failed to score a touchdown.
Through two weeks, Jacksonville ranks in the bottom half or third of the league in several major categories — scoring (21st), red zone (24th), third down (32nd), fourth down (tied for 26th) and total yards (22nd) among them. That’s despite the fact that the Jags have committed just six offensive penalties that have been accepted, a league-best mark.
The run game has been ineffective. Jaguars running backs are averaging 0.2 yards before contact per carry, fifth-worst in the league, according to Next Gen Stats, indicating run-blocking issues.
Lawrence has also been one of the league’s least efficient quarterbacks to this point. Among the 40 qualified quarterbacks, he’s 38th in total EPA (-26.0) and 30th in EPA per dropback (-.33) per Next Gen Stats. EPA, also known as Expected Points Added, measures the value of individual play based on a number of variables including down, distance and field position.
It hasn’t been one issue for Jacksonville offensively. It’s been across the board.
We saw it all against Kansas City — drops, misfires, fluky plays, pass-protection woes.
Like the first play of the Jaguars’ fifth drive of the game, when receiver Jamal Agnew dropped a lateral pass from Lawrence in the flat, resulting in a live ball that was recovered by the Chiefs.
Like the Jaguars’ first possession of the third quarter, when a poor blitz pickup on first down resulted in Lawrence getting swarmed by defenders and sacked for a seven-yard loss. Jacksonville got those yards back on a completion the next play, but then on third-and-10, receiver Christian Kirk dropped a pass across the middle, forcing a punt.
Like the Jaguars’ second-to-last possession, when receiver Zay Jones couldn’t keep two feet in-bounds on a catch at the back of the end zone. Tight end Evan Engram drew a defensive pass interference call at the Chiefs’ 1, but Ridley also made a catch just inches outside the back of the end zone on the next play. Then Lawrence pulled to the left on a read option and lost three yards. Then Ridley caught another pass inches out of bounds. Then Lawrence threw too high for Jones on third down, forcing a field goal on a drive that reached the 1-yard line.
“We’re just not executing, really, at every position, at different times,” Lawrence said Sunday. “Whether it’s the throw at times, the protection, a drop. Whatever it is, we’re all just having some mistakes in critical situations. And we just got to play better.
“We’re a better offense than that,” he added, “and I think that’s what’s disappointing, is when you know what you’re capable of. And the guys that we have, whether it’s upfront, myself, the running backs, receivers, like, we got so many weapons. We got to be able to put points on the board and score. And that’s just kind of embarrassing.”
The Jaguars’ offensive issues have halted a team ascension that seemed inevitable. The defense many observers were concerned about is what has kept the team afloat.
The unit limited Kansas City, a juggernaut with superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid, to 17 points — its lowest since Week 3 of last season. The defense provided ample opportunities for the Jaguars offense in Week 1 at Indianapolis, until Jacksonville finally took advantage with back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to put away a game that was much closer than the 31-21 score would indicate.
“I’m not concerned, but it’s something we got to fix,” Lawrence said of the offense. “It’s definitely an issue. We got to all look in the mirror and be accountable and be critical of ourselves. It’s all of us. The guys talked about it after the game, just there’s plays that we all missed on different series, different plays. … We got to make those plays. That’s what the good and great teams do.”
That’s when the fireworks come.
Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for SeattlePI.com for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.
NFL top-10 rankings: 49ers, Cowboys stay on top; Dolphins, Ravens move up
Browns RB Nick Chubb suffers knee injury; expected to miss rest of the season
Bettors win big on NFL prop bet, but sportsbooks clean up on college football Saturday
What we learned in NFL Week 2: Young QBs on the rise; how much trouble are Jets, Chargers in?
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs reportedly agree to record contract restructure
Monday Night Football highlights: Steelers, Saints get division wins
2023 NFL Week 3 odds, predictions: Picks, lines, spreads for every game
2023 NFL Week 2 betting recap, odds: Overs dominate
Meaningless Rams field goal causes brutal bad beat for 49ers bettors
Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more