A new era of Jaguars football began today, but it didn’t go as expected for head coach Urban Meyer and rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence as they fall to the Houston Texans 37-21, completely outmatched from start to finish.
Prior to the contest, several players were made inactive, including injured cornerback Tre Herndon who is still nursing a knee injury. Three rookies, including tackle Walker Little, defensive end/outside linebacker Jordan Smith and defensive tackle Jay Tufele were also inactive today.
It was a day of mistakes both offensively and defensively for the Jaguars, and it was clear that the Jaguars were starting a rookie QB in Lawrence. During the first half, the first-overall pick would make two costly mistakes, interceptions during the final few minutes of the half.
The first half wouldn’t all be on Lawrence, however, as Jacksonville’s receivers dropped several passes, and costly penalties negated any rhythm offensively in the run game.
During the first half alone, Jacksonville was penalized seven times for 53 yards, including six offensively that included three illegal formation calls and at least two holding penalties.
Simply put, it was clearly a rookie start for the first-time NFL head coach in Meyer, and a fresh day for his football team and QB. Lawrence connected on just 10 of his 23 passing attempts in the first half for 133 yards, 1 TD and two interceptions. His touchdown toss to tight end Chris Manhertz ignited brief confidence, however, the team didn’t capitalize.
Defensively, Jacksonville couldn’t get off the field following what looked to be a fantastic start after forcing a three-and-out. Texans QB Tyrod Taylor would complete 14 out of 23 of his passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including a last-minute TD during the first half.
While Jacksonville’s run defense was sound, allowing just 61 yards during the first half, the team allowed far too many easy conversions, with Houston converting 7 out of 11 of hits third downs in the first half.
The second half wasn’t too much better for Jacksonville as they continued to struggle offensively, though Lawrence would strike with a 41-yard touchdown toss to DJ Chark Jr. near the end of the third quarter. The touchdown would be a glimpse of what Lawrence can bring to the table if everything clicks offensively.
Still, Jacksonville couldn’t hold off the Texans defensively, allowing them to score twice more prior to the final whistle. They were consistently out of position and were constantly on their heels as a result. The new-look Texans? They simply took advantage.
Houston would finish the contest with 450 yards, including 291 passing yards and 161 rushing yards. While Taylor finished the contest completing 22 out of 31 of his passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
While Lawrence did toss a touchdown to Chark and Marvin Jones, he also threw another interception during the fourth quarter, putting his total up to three on the day. The interception would occur in the middle of the field with what looked to be some miscommunication between himself and Laviska Shenault.
The late touchdown to Jones would come with just five seconds remaining in the contest, with no shot for Jacksonville to secure a victory.
The Jacksonville offense would finish the day with 395 yards, while Lawrence finished by completing 28 out of 51 of his passes for 332 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Without much of a passing game, the Jacksonville rushing attack was essentially an afterthought, netting just 76 yards on 16 attempts, including five runs for 25 yards for James Robinson, the team’s starting running back.
The Jaguars, and Meyer, have their work cut out for them moving forward. Now that the regular season has begun, Jacksonville will be back at the drawing board, hoping to look more prepared as it gets set to take on the Denver Broncos in Week 2 at home.