There were a lot of firsts during the Jaguars’ preseason Week 1 matchup against the Cleveland Browns tonight. It would be the first time that the team’s first-team offense would get a taste of football together in a game situation, while it was also the first time several of the team’s defenders would play together, too.
The Jaguars fell to the Browns 24-13 to begin its preseason 0-2 after the team’s Hall of Fame game loss against the Las Vegas Raiders a week prior.
It was also a first for the Browns and quarterback Deshaun Watson, who made his Cleveland debut and played in the night’s contest, his first in-game action since Week 17 during the 2020 regular season with the Houston Texans.
As expected, many fans would boo Watson as he trotted onto the field, currently awaiting a ruling on the NFL’s appeal of Watson’s initial six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Watson finished the contest completing just 1 out of 5 of his passes for seven yards on the day.
There were 54,789 tickets distributed for tonight’s contest, the Jaguars announced during the third quarter of action.
Here are 3 takeaways from tonight’s loss against the Browns:
Jaguars starting offense delivers mixed results
The Jaguars went into today’s matchup against the Browns with their starters on offense getting a full workload after being held out of last week’s matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The starting offense, including Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, played 11 snaps in their opening drive after the team’s defense forced a quick three-and-out. The only players that didn’t participate tonight offensively were receivers Christian Kirk (ankle), Jamal Agnew (hip) and Laviska Shenault (undisclosed).
Note: Agnew is participating in full during practice, but was held out intentionally on Friday vs. Cleveland.
During the drive, Lawrence was able to connect with receiver Zay Jones on a 32-yard completion. Their connection has been building throughout training camp, carrying over to the game.
Still, Jacksonville was unable to convert two premium opportunities into touchdowns for their first two drives of the game, ultimately settling for field goals. The team’s second drive would go for just two yards, unable to make much out of the opportunity the defense gave them by forcing a turnover in Cleveland territory.
On the starters’ third and final drive of the day, though, Lawrence was able to cap off an 11-play 63-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Engram, giving Jacksonville a 13-0 lead not far into the second quarter.
11-play, 63-yard drive for the #Jaguars to cap it off with a nine-yard pitch and catch touchdown from Lawrence to Engram.— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) August 12, 2022
Drive also included a 15-yard pass from Lawrence to Zay Jones: pic.twitter.com/rBXvbscZvZ
Lawrence finished his night after playing 25 snaps, including a play that didn’t officially count due to illegal contact, completing 6 out of 12 of his passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. He added 11 yards on the ground with a designed run during the team’s opening possession.
It’s a mixed showing for the starting offense, but they made sure to end their night on a high note with the quick score to Engram.
Lawrence’s night included some solid passing, though, with all six of his connections on the field for first downs or, in the case of his final toss, a touchdown. A solid outing for Lawrence as he continues to develop chemistry with his teammates.
Here's the passing chart for Trevor Lawrence, who had six completions, all for first downs. That includes two first-down completions on third-and-6 or longer, and a TD toss on fourth-and-2. Good stuff: pic.twitter.com/2KgEc9AqKb— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) August 13, 2022
First-team defense pitches shutout, forces fumble
While the offense had some success in spurts, the team’s starting defense had no trouble from the onset of the contest. To begin the game, the Jacksonville defense was able to force the Cleveland Browns to go three-and-out twice during their first three possessions of the contest.
Sandwiched between the two three-and-out possessions, safety Rayshawn Jenkins was able to force a fumble on Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson on just the second play of their second drive of the game. Rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker was involved in the hit that jarred the ball loose.
In all, the Jaguars’ first-team defense allowed just seven net yards against the Browns’ starters in the first three drives of the contest. It would be a standout performance for the team’s defense after coming out a bit lackadaisical during the team’s Hall of Fame Game loss against the Los Vegas Raiders.
Backups still have a ways to go
Though the Jaguars’ first-team offense and defense posted good outings on Friday night, the backups for both units were just a couple of steps behind.
After Lawrence and the offense came out of the game a couple of minutes into the second quarter of action, the second-team offense sputtered. Led by backup QB C.J. Beathard, the Jaguars couldn’t finish on five-straight possession, including three punts, an interception and the end of the first half.
The unit combined for just 55 net yards, including two drives with a combined -6 yards during the third quarter.
First-team for the #Jaguars offense had three scoring possessions, two field goals and a touchdown, while the backups have just 55 net yards, three punts, an interception and the end of halftime.— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) August 13, 2022
Tough showing for the backups so far pic.twitter.com/OHOMfKTgNu
Similar to the offense, the Jaguars’ backup defenders struggled on Friday. Though, they were not responsible for the first touchdown scored against the unit - the Browns recorded a pick-six against Beathard -, they were on the field for the Browns’ second touchdown of the night.
After the first-team defense forced two punts and a turnover, the second and third-team defense for Jacksonville gave up scoring drives on three of the next four drives of the game, including two touchdowns and a field goal. The Browns posted 192 net yards on the Jaguars’ backups during those four drives.
In addition to the earlier interception by the team’s second-team QB, Beathard, the team’s third-team offense would turn the ball over, too, with tight end Luke Farrell fumbling late into the third quarter of action.
The best play by the team’s backups would come during the fourth quarter of action when backup linebacker Tyrell Adams forced a fumble on Cleveland running back Jerome Ford as the Browns were driving. The turnover gave Jacksonville the ball at their own 15-yard-line, but the offense couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.
QB Jake Luton would toss the team’s final interception of the contest from just nine yards out to Browns cornerback Herb Miller. After turning the ball over on downs following the two-minute warning, the Browns would take three knees to close out the contest.
Note: Offensive lineman Will Richardson left the contest in the third quarter of action, assisted off the field by trainers with an undisclosed injury.