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So now that the Jacksonville Jaguars are two weeks in and stand with a 1-1 record, they are somehow in first place in the AFC South division. But how did things get better so fast in the land of Duval?
The fans can’t be blamed for some frustration in Week 1. The Washington Commanders were down at one point in the fourth quarter after jumping out to a 14-3 halftime lead, but then Jacksonville shot themselves in the foot to lose 28-22. The Indianapolis Colts lost for the eighth straight time against Jacksonville in Duval, 24-0.
The Jaguars are now a .500 team for the first time under franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence. For all the talk of the departure of former head coach Urban Meyer being addition by subtraction, it has materialized in the win column early.
Here are some bright spots on the Jaguars’ hunt for improvement with Doug Pederson holding the clipboard.
The Passing Game Is Better
Whether it’s Lawrence having a year’s experience under his belt, the additions of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram providing support to Marvin Jones as receivers or Travis Etienne coming out of the backfield for some catches after missing all of 2021 due to injury, there is a clear lift between this and last year.
Five interceptions previously as opposed to throwing one being two games into a campaign is certainly a good sign despite fewer yards (450-to-410). Maybe they overpaid for Jones and Kirk but so far it’s at least translating into more efficient production.
It is certainly enough to balance out James Robinson, who seems to be seeing the field regularly without Meyer in place to prevent it. Robinson’s 130 yards on 34 carries for 3.8 yards on the ground certainly shows that.
Defense Picking It Up
Talking to D-Lineman Arden Key after the #Jags shut out The #Colts 24-0 at @tiaabankfield #Duuuval @3ptCnvrsn pic.twitter.com/ekrkegPNEB
— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) September 18, 2022
The Jags choice of former Georgia Bulldog Travon Walker as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft was easily the most critiqued among their selections. For all the clamor that they should have drafted Aidan Hutchinson, Walker has earned one sack and four tackles on the season thus far while intercepting Carson Wentz on a screen pass in Week 1. That is one of five picks in this young season whereas Jacksonville had seven interceptions all of last year.
Early on, Walker seems to have produced results, helping the defensive captain Josh Allen and free agent acquisition Arden Key pressure opposing backfields. This has translated to turnovers for the secondary in coverage when quarterbacks make mistakes on a hurried passes.
Kicks Being Made By Kickers
This time last year, there’s no guarantee that the Jaguars would have had the confidence to attempt four kicks total, let alone go 3-for-4 in a road game Week 1. Nonetheless, Riley Patterson, after missing his first kick of the regular season from 37 out, has hit 4-for-4 including a 52-yarder against the Colts in Week 2.
If the game is made up of defense, offense and special teams, then improvement in all three is what fans hope to see. And it is that excitement of building up even more that Lawrence mentioned in the postgame press conference as they attempt to shock the Chargers in L.A. on Sunday.