The streak continues!
Despite a stagnant second half from the Jacksonville Jaguars offense, the Jags managed to escape a New Orleans comeback and secure a 31-24 win. This continued a four-game win streak, which is currently the second-longest streak in the NFL (the Chiefs are first with six consecutive wins). This also gives the Jags an 11-3 record over their past 14 games, of which two losses were against last year’s Super Bowl champions. The Jaguars now sit alongside the Ravens and Dolphins in a tie for second place in the AFC.
After the Jags’ rookies were showcased a bit more playmaking during the October 14 matchup against the Colts, it was once again a quieter week for the first-year players, with one unsurprising exception.
Anton Harrison: After what was perhaps his best game against the Colts, Harrison continued his solid performance against the Saints and logged his best two-game stretch thus far this season. Harrison formally took 21 snaps in run protection and 35 pass-blocking snaps, during which he allowed only 1 QB hurry despite a tough matchup against Cameron Jordan. PFF noted an additional three snaps in which Harrison was beaten, however, it did not cost the Jaguars a QB hit or sack. In fact, Harrison helped the Jags’ offensive line to allow a mere 8.6% pressure rate, the lowest pressure rate allowed by any offensive line this season. Harrison has quickly become an important cog in this offensive line, and he is only getting better.
Brenton Strange: After demonstrating his best performance this year against the Colts, Brenton Strange surprisingly received the fewest snaps he has seen all year in Week 7. He logged 0 receptions on 13 snaps on the day, ranking behind both Luke Farrell (20 snaps) and Evan Engram (46 snaps). It seems that Strange will continue to play third fiddle to Farrell and Engram, though he certainly has the potential to make a play any given week.
Grade: Despite the Jaguars’ heavy reliance on the run game this past week, particularly in the second half, Bigsby only logged 8 snaps, which he turned into 2 carries for 2 yards. While Travis Etienne has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, one might expect the Jags to use their 3rd round pick a bit more. With so few opportunities, it is difficult to assess Bigsby’s performance on the field, though his continued lack of meaningful snaps suggests he may not play as great a role this year as preseason might’ve suggested.
Other Rookie Performances:
Tyler Lacy: Lacy finally made it back onto the stat sheet, logging 1 tackle and 1 pressure on 12 snaps on Thursday night. Though his opportunities remain scarce, it’s nice to see him make a play for the first time in a while. Progress, I guess?
Antonio Johnson’s most notable contribution on Thursday was a penalty flag called against him during special teams, and Elijah Cooks had another quiet day with 5 snaps and 0 targets. Parker Washington, Christian Braswell and Yasir Abdullah all remained out with injuries.
As the Jags start to settle in and continue their win streak, it seems that the only consistent rookie contributor this year has been OL Anton Harrison. While Bigsby and Strange have offered occasional flashes during these first 7 weeks, they have failed to do so consistently, and neither player has managed to play themselves into a more substantial role with the offense. Barring some unexpected injury, we have no reason to expect that this will change in the coming weeks.
Considering the Jaguars drafted a hefty 13 players in the 2023 NFL draft, fans may be quick to point the finger at subpar drafting. While this may be true, it is important to recognize that the Jags are also leaning on their veteran starters because it is working, and they are winning. So yes, our second-round pick sits at TE3 on the roster, our third-round pick is receiving fewer than 10 snaps per game, and anyone drafted later than that has received less playing time than Trevor Lawrence’s knee brace, but the Jags are 5-2 for the first time since 2007. Let’s enjoy it!
Duval, what are your thoughts on last week’s rookie performances?