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Unfortunately everything is a bit hard for the Jaguars after being primed for the most exciting season in franchise history... but the future is looking bright!
A lack of a deep-passing game will likely remain an issue for the rest of the season for Jacksonville without any legitimate threats on the outside with speed aside from a once-special teams only player in receiver Jamal Agnew, who recently converted from the cornerback position to receiver position in the NFL.
That, along with some struggles with rookie QB Trevor Lawrence and the way the games have been dictated for the Jaguars, have caused them to be one of the worst teams in the NFL at completing passes downfield. In fact, the Jaguars have just two completions of 20 or more air yards in their last four games of the season.
“[It’s] non-existent right now. It’s a problem,” Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said on Wednesday. “We had one, got behind them, and C.J. [Beathard] threw a dot to one of our most reliable guys, Ags [WR Jamal Agnew]. That’s a problem. Big plays are a problem right now. It was last year and it’s this year. [We] have to get that fixed because you’re rolling the dice. If you don’t have big plays, you are not going to win.”
The Jaguars had two opportunities against the Buffalo Bills for explosive plays downfield and couldn’t execute them. On one, backup QB C.J. Beathard threw a beautiful pass downfield to Jamal Agnew, who would ultimately drop the football. The play would have been good for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
With 3:11 remaining in the game on third-and-10 from their own 47-yard-line, Lawrence had an opportunity for a down-field toss to Marvin Jones who certainly would have walked into the end zone. However, due to heavy pressure on the play, Lawrence’s pass sailed, overthrown for Jones who was unable to get up under the pass.
Those were just two examples of explosive plays that could have been made on Sunday, but weren’t. There haven’t been very many opportunities for big plays, and it will cost the team games moving forward if nothing is corrected offensively.
With not much in the way of being able to add productive talent during the season, Meyer believes that what needs to occur is just getting the ball to the players who have the ability to make big plays. It sounds simple, but really the opportunities just haven’t been there.
“Yeah, I think [it’s about] who you give the ball to, who you hand the ball to, who you flip the ball to. Ags’ [WR Jamal Agnew] a guy that every time he touches it [something happens], so is Laviska [Shenault Jr.]. So, we have to be smart,” said Meyer. “Those guys are kind of big play guys, maybe not so much out at the one position, maybe at other positions. I believe Dan Arnold has big play potential. I don’t believe we’re utilizing him enough yet.”
Arnold has been one of the team’s most-productive players over the past few games, accounting for 22 receptions for 248 yards since joining the team in Week 4 of this season via trade. He’s already taken up a large portion of the targets with 32 over five games.
Following the injury to DJ Chark Jr., who is out for the season with a fractured ankle, the Jaguars simply haven’t been able to get anything downfield. But Lawrence believes that it can come, he just has to take advantage of the opportunities, and the offense has to put themselves in a position to execute it.
“I think when you’re more efficient on first and second down and you run the ball like we did last week, if you can combine all those things, then that sets up some opportunities for some shots because teams have to respect the run the way we’ve run the ball this year,” said Lawrence.
Perhaps when Robinson comes back the team will be able to have more opportunities downfield. Perhaps, though, it will take until next season to really see it all come together.