Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

Young Jaguars Show Maturity in Dominant Win at The Jets

todayDecember 23, 2022


By Hays Carlyon

Operation Two Wins in Five Days was a resounding success for the white-hot Jaguars.

We knew the Jaguars had a strong belief in each other after furious comeback wins over Baltimore and Dallas.

Now, he know this young team has another weapon in its arsenal – maturity.

The Jaguars battled through difficult weather conditions in a hostile environment to beat the New York Jets 19-3 at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night. The national spotlight was there and the Jaguars (7-8) showed their mettle to maintain control of their AFC South destiny.

The Jets (7-8) had to have the game to keep their wild-card hopes alive. They were dominated for the final 56 minutes after taking an early 3-0 lead.

This was an impressive win. The Jaguars were brilliant on third down on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence guided the offense to a 7-of-16 effort (43.8 percent). The Jaguars defense held the Jets to a 2-of-13 effort (15.4 percent) on third down and a miserable 1-of-5 on fourth down.

The Jaguars handled the weather much better than New York. They were the more prepared and physical team. That’s quite an achievement considering the offensive line was without injured left tackle Cam Robinson and the defense was without outside linebacker Travon Walker and tackle Foley Fatukasi.

“That was a challenge,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said. “The weather was a challenge, obviously. Listen, that’s a good defense. Hats off to our guys, the offensive line. It was going to be one of those days. It was going to be physical. It was going to be tough. We were going to have to run the football because throwing it was going to be hard. But, we were efficient in the passing game. We made some plays in the passing game. It’s just one of those deals. I’m just really proud of the guys.”

Lawrence shook off a rough outing earlier in the season in brutal conditions in a loss at Philadelphia. He was poised after fumbling on the first possession of the game. Lawrence responded, throwing for 229 yards and running for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Lawrence is thriving at the perfect time under Pederson, as the Jaguars have won three straight games and four of their last five. They will win the AFC South if they beat Houston on the road next week and then take down Tennessee at home in the finale. Not bad for a team that lost five consecutive games in October.

“I think the staff and especially coach Pederson has had belief in us, even when maybe we didn’t in the beginning,” Lawrence said. “Things were crazy and I think him just having that confidence in us, we kind of realized we have something special here.”

The budding partnership between Pederson and Lawrence was evident on three third down situations. Lawrence completed a 23-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram on third-and-9.

He found Engram again for 22 yards on third-and-1.

My favorite play occurred on a third-and-1 when Pederson sent receiver Jamal Agnew in motion to the left but then had running back Travis Etienne escape into the right flat. The Jets defense all went with Agnew, leaving an easy completion to Etienne for 22 yards.

The Jaguars also wisely avoided talented Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner for the majority of the night, utilizing their vast array of quality options. That led to Engram catching seven passes for 113 yards.

The growth between the Eagles loss on Oct. 2 and Thursday night was substantial.

“It honestly was a lot easier than we were expecting,” Engram said. “Philly, early on in the season, caught us off guard for sure and we kind of knew all week what we were kind of headed into this time. We were all ready for it. We were all physically prepared, mentally prepared. We did wet ball drills during the week, just prepared for it.”

The Jaguars have 10 days off to now rest up and get ready for the biggest stretch of football this franchise has enjoyed since 2017.

“The message is just that we haven’t done anything,” Pederson said. “We haven’t clinched anything. We haven’t won anything. We’ve still got two games left, we’ve got two division games left. I do want them to enjoy the holidays and enjoy Christmas with their families and friends. It’s time to heal and get healthy for this final two game stretch. I also want them to come back with the right frame of mind next week and get ready for a team that beat us a couple of months ago.”

They have belief. They have a quarterback playing at an elite level.

Now they have maturity.

The ingredients for a special season are all starting to show at the perfect time.

Merry Christmas, Jaguars fans.

You deserve this magical gift.

(You can email Hays at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).

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