The Jacksonville Jaguars spent the offseason making upgrades to their roster. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough and ended up losing 37-21 to the Houston Texans in Week 1 of the regular season.
The Jags entered the game as a 3.0 point favorite to win but looked outcoached on both sides of the ball. You could argue that they’re a young team but so are the Texans. In fact, the Jags’ loss becomes even more frustrating when you take into account that the Texans weren’t able to make as many offseason upgrades as Jacksonville due to their lack of cap space and picks early in the draft.
For a moment, it looked like the Jaguars’ were going to dominate the game, forcing Houston to go three-and-out in the very drive of the game. However, things quickly went sour and Jacksonville’s defense had no answer for Texans’ offense and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The 20211 sixth-round pick was efficient and had no trouble moving the ball, going 21-of-33 for 291 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Moreover, he added 44 yards on the ground on three carries.
The Jaguars’ offense didn’t fare much better. Down 14-0, rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence scored his first career touchdown in the NFL, a 22-yard strike to tight end Chris Manhertz. However, the Texans quickly struck back and scored 13 points, going into halftime with a 27-7 lead. The former Clemson Tiger threw three touchdowns but he also had three interceptions in the game. You can’t win games if you turn the ball that many times. Lawrence went 28-of-51 for 332 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, which isn’t bad but it’s not the kind of performance you expect from the top pick in the draft.
Things didn’t get better for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half.
Lawrence surely made mistakes but he was by no means the reason why the Jaguars lost the season opener. Drops and holding penalties plagued the team and Jacksonville’s execution looked sloppy. An example of this came up in the fourth quarter when quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a 22-scrambled. Putting aside the fact there was a wide lane open, Jags safety Rayshawn Jenkins pushed the passer once he was out of bounds for a roughing the passer penalty, which gave Houston additional yardage. This kind of unnecessary penalties are inexcusable.
Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen said in the week preceding the game that both rookie Andre Cisco and Andrew Wingard would rotate at safety. The former didn’t see the field until late in the game after the latter struggled against both the run and the pass. Did the coaching staff think Cisco wasn’t ready or did they think Wingard was the better option? Either way, the rookie should get the start next week and see how things play out. After all, it can’t get much any worse, can it?
Not helping matters was the fact that the Jags abandoned the run once they fell behind. Running back James Robinson surely prefers team wins over individual stats, but he could have joined legend Fred Taylor as the only two players to total 1,500 yards from scrimmage in team history. He finished the game with five rushes for 25 yards. Carlos Hyde led the team with 44 rushing yards on nine carries.
While it’s not time for panic, the Jacksonville Jaguars must look at all the things that went wrong against the Texans and fix them right away. Otherwise, their season will quickly spiral out of control. They will face the Denver Broncos in Week 2, they can’t afford to start the season 0-2.