Struggles continue for Jags in preseason loss to Saints

Riley Platt, Sports Reporter

NEW ORLEANS— Going into Monday night, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a chance to change the negative narrative surrounding them. However, things seem to have gotten worse after yet another subpar performance.

With the game on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, all eyes were on the Jaguars as they faced the Saints on the road. While many enjoy trips to the Crescent City, it didn’t look like the Jags would after getting off to a rough start.

 Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) drops back to pass under pressure from New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)

Much like the opener, it didn’t take long for the Jacksonville defense to fold in on itself. Jameis Winston started at QB, shining early on with some spectacular throws. One of these came on a 43-yard touchdown pass into double coverage, giving New Orleans an early 7-0 lead.

After more controversy surrounding the quarterback situation, Trevor Lawrence ultimately got the start for the Jaguars. In a mirror image of last week, the offense went three and out on their first drive. The offensive line woes continued as Lawrence took some concerning shots.

The Jaguars did manage to get a first down on their second drive, but it would be the last one for a while. Lawrence did make some impressive throws, but his two quarters of playing time were largely defined by a collapsing offensive line and forced improvisation.

But how was the defense faring? Unfortunately for Jags fans, it wasn’t much better. After going three and out, the Saints found their way back to the endzone. Another long Jameis Winston touchdown pass increased New Orleans’ lead to 14-0. 

The Jacksonville defense eventually got their feet underneath them and put together some better efforts. A Josh Lambo field goal finally got the Jags on the scoreboard, making it 14-3. 

Just before the half ended, Trevor Lawrence led a promising drive into the red zone. This would end in a missed field goal attempt, though, which is very uncharacteristic of Lambo. Zooming in on this preseason, however, Lambo has missed two kicks through the first two games. While these could be fluke mistakes, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

The Saints would drive down the field, netting a field goal to make it 17-3 at halftime. What a half of football- and not in a good way. If the hopes and dreams of Jaguars fans weren’t already crushed from last week, that should’ve done the trick. 

However, there would finally be some signs of life for the Jacksonville offense. Unfortunately, these moments didn’t come until the 4th quarter. Entering the final 15 minutes of play, the Saints led 23-3. Under the dual guidance of Gardner Minshew and CJ Beathard at QB, the Jags stringed together an 18 point run.

While this made the final score a seemingly competitive 23-21, it’s important to note that this is by no means representative of the game. The bulk of the Jags scoring came against players who may hardly touch the field for the Saints this season, if at all. Nonetheless, it was somewhat positive to see some scoring drives for a team that has struggled to do just that.

The most important evaluation of the night is that of Trevor Lawrence. The rookie showed some solid improvement, largely regarding his presence in the pocket. He didn’t struggle as much with holding onto the ball too long like last week. 

When things went awry, Lawrence did what he had to make plays happen. The number of blows he endured was a bit concerning, but this is up to the o-line to solve. If the line can improve, he’ll have a shot to lead this offense to great things. That is a very big ‘if,’ though.

The Jaguars’ final preseason game takes place on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at 1 p.m. It is taking place in Texas, but fans can watch it on NFL Network. This will serve as one last clean-up opportunity for Urban Meyer and his squad before things get real. 

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