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Jaguars HC Urban Meyer: ‘I am looking for competitors’

The Jaguars would fall yet again in the preseason, 23-21 in a hard fought game against the New Orleans Saints.

Jacksonville Jaguars v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

There are only 19 days left until the Jaguars go into Houston to face the Houston Texans to start its regular season. That’s 19 days left for head coach Urban Meyer to do everything in his power to assemble the best 53-man roster he can to earn wins during the season.

Following the team’s 23-21 loss against the New Orleans Saints last night, Meyer was frank about what he wants to see out of his football team, competitiveness and energy.

“I just told them that I am looking for fighters and I am looking for competitors,” said Meyer. “We will have a locker room full of competitors. I think that we’ve got a bunch of them. I am learning a lot about them and they are learning a lot about us.”

During the second half of action, the Jaguars showed plenty of competitive spirit as third-string quarterback CJ Beathard was able to bring the team back, leading two touchdown drives near the end of the contest. While his efforts wouldn’t achieve victory for the team, the spirit of some of the players involved was felt by Meyer.

“A young guy like Tavon Austin, he’s actually not that young anymore, I just love that guy. He’s an energizer bunny for me. I’m just looking for that. I am looking for guys that show that spark and that energy.”

Austin, 30, was signed by Jacksonville on Aug. 6. He has since begun to leave an impression on the team’s coaching staff, providing another option as a punt returner, while giving the team another receiving option on offense. Against the Saints last night, Austin would have four receptions for 37 yards on five targets.

The Jaguars will depend on players to step up to the plate on offense this year, especially if the injuries that have occurred thus far this preseason spill into the regular season. While Austin himself may not make the roster, it was clear from last night’s contest that the Jaguars need some sort of spark or energy on offense.

The game that was

Entering the game on Monday, there was further speculation as to who may end up starting the contest against the Saints at quarterback for the Jaguars. While it was clear Trevor Lawrence was the most likely, that was still up for question until the first offensive snap by Jacksonville.

Lawrence would go on to start the contest, completing 14 out of 23 of his passes for 113 yards while getting sacked one time on his final play of the game prior to Gardner Minshew II entering the contest coming out of halftime. Lawrence ended the contest with a so-so performance but showed off the traits one wants to see out of a starting QB.

Jacksonville’s offense would start off slow yet again, but that wasn’t for a lack of change or trying on their part, Meyer said after the game. The Jaguars went into the contest wanting to establish the run and set up play-action for Lawrence. With 60% of its starting offensive line missing, however, that wouldn’t be possible.

“The starting offense, for two weeks in a row, we are just struggling to get in some rhythm,” said Meyer. “We kind of went into the game, let’s run the ball at them a little bit with play action and getting Trevor (Lawrence) comfortable a little bit. I know that he had a nice play to his left, threw it down the field, and made a heck of a play. We are not balanced right now. When you get stuffed.”

On the day, Jacksonville ran the football 20 times, accounting for just 45 total yards on the ground, or 2.3 yards-per-carry. That includes a nine-yard scramble by Lawrence during the first half.

Speed was also missing within the Jaguars’ receiving game. Meyer made mention of an injured DJ Chark Jr., stating that the team needs to get him back. Chark has missed time following surgery to repair a small hairline fracture in one of his fingers.

“DJ Chark, I am counting on him to get back and give us a little bit of a vertical threat down the field. Philip Dorsett has great speed. We have got to start getting the ball (to him),” he said. “That was the plan; we just didn’t execute the run game. The throw game, there just wasn’t much rhythm in the first half.”

Defensively, the Jaguars were stout against the run for a second-straight week, allowing just 63 total rushing yards on 21 carries.

It is clear that defending the run has quickly become a strength of this year’s defense, while the team needs to get better against the pass, particularly when the ball is in the air. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins feels it will all come together in time.

“We’re trying to still feel the chemistry with each other out still,” Jenkins said in postgame. “I feel our run stop is phenomenal right now if you just look at the numbers from both games. Backend just has to trust the ball more. But it will all come. It takes patience and time, but we’ll clean up some things and it will go smooth.”

The Jaguars allowed Saints QB Jameis Winston to complete 9 out of 10 of his passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, a near-perfect night for the veteran signal-caller.

Both touchdowns were preventable, however, with Jaguars cornerbacks Shaq Griffin and Tyson Campbell in coverage on the first, and Griffin again on the second. Both players were in position to make some sort of plays on the football but didn’t.

“Our defense is built to stop the run,” said Meyer. “We’ve just got to make sure that we get the corners ready to start to make the plays in man coverage.”

Look for Jacksonville to continue making a concerted effort to defend against the run, while clearing up some issues in the backend.

Housekeeping

  • RB Travis Etienne will miss some time with a reported lisfranc injury.
  • LT Cam Robinson rolled his ankle on Sunday, the night before the game, according to Meyer. He will return, but Walker Little played in his place last night.
  • Guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder both missed last night’s game with injuries.
  • Jacksonville will need to make five roster moves today by 4 P.M. ET. as the team looks to make it to the 80-man roster threshold.