The Jacksonville Jaguars went into Arrowhead Stadium playing with house money and unfortunately for them couldn’t pull out a win. A hobbled Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs team were too much to overcome for the young but exciting squad. In the short term, the franchise will deal with their bitter disappointment. But in the long run the team finally has a sense of direction and reason to be excited.
First off, they finally have their coach and quarterback. It’s true this was their second season with Trevor Lawrence but after an abysmal rookie year with even worse coach Urban Meyer, there were still questions unanswered about the young man. A year after throwing 12 TDs and 17 INTs, he came back to throw 25 TDs and only 8 INTs. Tied for 8th best in the league for TDs and 9th in passing yards (4113), he certainly balled out. Top that with a being divisional champion in addition to a 27-point comeback victory in his first playoff game and you can’t ask for a much better rebound.
And even with a loss, Lawrence’s leadership was on display Saturday night.
Doug Pederson is undoubtedly a big reason why Lawrence has been able to spread his wings. After adding TE Evan Engram and WR Christian Kirk to catch passes, both of whom arguably had the best years of their careers, the passing game looked like something we’ve rarely but now have finally seen from the Jags. They looked not only competent, but good. On top of all that, Lawrence’s longtime teammate at Clemson HB Travis Etienne shined in his sophomore season. After missing his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury he bounced back with 1120 rushing yards and a 5.1 yard per carry average. Pederson has the Jaguars offensive unit in a good place.
On the other side of the football, they have bright spots to build off of. Second year cornerback Tyson Campbell held up well as their CB1. Linebacker Josh Allen spent another year terrorizing QBs as the first overall pick Travon Walker continues to find his footing. And most surprising, sixth round pick linebacker Foyesade Oluokun led the entire lead in tackles with 150.
This wasn’t the year of DUUUVAL. They were too young, too inexperienced, and made far too many mistakes. But they did take major steps toward becoming major contenders. It might not be next year even, but the Jaguars are knocking on the door of championship contention.
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