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5 Takeaways: Jaguars lose home opener vs. Broncos

The Jaguars fell to the Broncos on Sunday, 23-13.

Denver Broncos v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

There’s no question the Jaguars have some work to do, especially following its 17th straight loss dating back to last season.

Losing their second game of the season on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, the Jaguars will have to go back to the drawing board on a variety of issues with the team as it works to create an identity.

Prior to taking questions following the team’s 23-13 loss on Sunday, Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer made a statement to the fans, first thanking them for coming to the game on Sunday and showing off their pride for the team.

“I just want to thank our Jaguar fans. It’s been a long haul in Jacksonville. But we appreciate them being here, and we have a saying around here, we’re going to own it, and we are going to own it, but I speak on behalf of our players that that was good,” Meyer said on Sunday.

“We go up 7-3 or 7-0 and they’re standing behind our defense, helped our defense, and from myself, our staff and our players, thanks for being there. Don’t give up on us. Hang in there with us. We’re going to get better.

“The one thing about Jacksonville and the 904, go to sleep knowing there’s not going to be any group work harder to get this thing flipped. “

With that being said, let’s get into the takeaways from yesterday:

The offense is a work in progress still

The Jaguars began the game on Sunday with perhaps its most impressive drive since last season against the Indianapolis Colts.

A perfectly executed, 11-play, 83-yard touchdown drive led by its rookie quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, who capped the drive with a smooth 25-yard touchdown toss to Marvin Jones Jr., it couldn’t have gone any better.

The only issue was that it wouldn’t go any better throughout the rest of the contest for Jacksonville. In fact, it would barely even match the same production as Jacksonville netted just 189 net yards on the day. In the first half, the Jaguars accumulated 130 total net yards, with just 59 in the second half.

The team experienced a variety of issues, from quarterback play, playcalling, dropped passes and other miscues. Nothing went right offensively for Jacksonville, and it showed.

Lawrence would finish the game with just 14 completions out of 33 attempts, throwing for 118 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on the day.

For a second-straight week, Jacksonville ran the football just 16 times, with James Robinson as the lead back with 11 carries for 47 yards on the day. Following the contest, Meyer suggested the team needs to be more balanced moving forward.

“It seems like we’re dropping back a little bit too much, especially when you’re facing Von Miller and Chubb and those guys,” said Meyer. “The easy answer is made more plays and get guys in position to make more plays. That’s an easy answer. It’s hard to execute, obviously.”

Meyer would later be asked if the solution to that is for the team to simply call more run plays, or if its about putting players in a position to be more balanced through other positive plays. To Meyer, it’s both.

“I think when you call the run plays you’ve got to get a little more positive yardage, but I thought at times we were running the ball decent today,” he said. “When the score is tight you can be very balanced, and then you start getting behind a little bit and you have to start scoring points.”

Defense has a bounce-back performance

No, it wasn’t always pretty for the Jaguars’ defense today, but the unit as a whole did perform much better on Sunday. While Jacksonville wasn’t able to create turnovers, it did have a couple of opportunities with key pass breakups by cornerback Shaquill Griffin and safety Rayshawn Jenkins early in the contest.

On the day, the Jaguars allowed just two third-down conversions on 11 attempts. While the team did surrender 328 yards through the air to Teddy Bridgewater, the team netted three sacks and held the Broncos to just two touchdowns on the day. Bend, but don’t break was truly how the defense played on Sunday.

Against the run, the Jaguars were able to hold the Broncos to just 3.2 yards per carry, yet another good performance for its run defense. I think there are some issues the Jaguars will have to work on, particularly in its secondary, but overall they won’t be the reason Jacksonville can’t pull off victories moving forward.

Jamal Agnew shows why he belongs

We’d be remiss without mentioning the second-best play of the day for Jacksonville. Desperately needing points with 5:42 remaining in the contest, the Jaguars got a spark from one of its free-agent signees in receiver and return specialist Jamal Agnes.

Agnew would take the Broncos’ kickoff 102 yards back for a score to put the team in a position to get within one score (and two-point conversion) to tie the ballgame up.

Jacksonville wouldn’t end up converting the two-point play, but it showed exactly why Agnew was brought in, in the first place. Agnew’s return would be the first for Jacksonville since Marqise Lee in 2016 against the Houston Texans.

“I saw the guy that we went out and got him because that’s a big part of — we haven’t been able to get him loose in punt return, and that’s really where he’s dynamic, too,” Meyer said of Agnew.

“I know this as a fact after coaching special teams my entire career is that if they know there’s a guy back that can do it, you block that much harder, and they know he can do it now.”

Offensive line stays strong

While it’s always easy to point at the offensive line for a team’s failures, the Jaguars don’t really have that excuse through the first two games of the season, especially after the team’s matchup against the Broncos.

Going up against one of the more formidable duo of pass rushers, Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, the Jaguars gave up just one sack on the day.

Jacksonville would also rush for an average of 4.7 yards per carry. It wasn’t that the Jaguars couldn’t run the ball, it just so happened that they attempted more passes on the day, something that will need to change moving forward.

During the contest, the Jaguars would lose right guard A.J. Cann due to a hamstring injury, he would be replaced by second-year player Ben Bartch, and it didn’t appear Jacksonville really dropped off much in terms of effectiveness with its o-line.

Josh Lambo’s issues are concerning

This point might go without saying, but it’s worth mentioning. The team’s veteran kicker has already missed three field goals this season, including both field goals during the team’s loss on Sunday. They would be the first field goals he’s missed during a home game in Jacksonville.

At one point, Jaguars players on the sideline, including tight end James O’Shaughnessy, Lawrence and center Brandon Linder, all comforted the veteran kicker following his second miss of the day.

While the issues Lambo has had through the first two games of the season are concerning, Meyer isn’t hitting the panic button just yet.

“I’m not giving up on Josh Lambo,” said Meyer. “If he didn’t work hard, wasn’t a professional about everything he does, yeah, I’d have a problem with him, but he’s missing some kicks, and as a professional, he’s got to make those kicks. I have confidence he will.”

The Jaguars will need to re-evaluate its kicker situation if Lambo continues to make mistakes.