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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville’s offense is in such disarray that it’s nearly impossible to measure any progress rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence might be making.
The Jaguars (2-10) dropped their fourth consecutive game, a 37-7 drubbing at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and reached double-digit losses for the 10th time in the last 11 years. The latest setback included a dreadful start, a third straight game with two turnovers, and another far-from-promising performance by Lawrence.
The No. 1 overall draft pick completed 16 of 28 passes for 145 yards. He was plagued by more drops and pressured often by a defensive front widely considered the best in the NFL. Adding insult to misery, Lawrence got his helmet slammed against the turf by former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey following a twisting tackle and took a shot to the face – no penalty was called – on a sack in the waning minutes.
“I want to move past this one and go get the next one,” Lawrence said.
He was talking about the game. He might as well have been referring to the season.
Lawrence has one touchdown pass in his last five starts, a woeful stretch in which he’s been held under 200 yards passing four times.
He’s getting little help from his supporting cast – the Jaguars are without Travis Etienne, DJ Chark, Jamal Agnew and Dan Arnold – and hasn’t had much of a complementary ground game because James Robinson has been dealing with heel/knee injuries for weeks.
Lawrence’s debut season has been so pedestrian that he’s now drawing comparisons to fellow top draft picks who struggled as rookies: Troy Aikman in Dallas, Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Matthew Stafford in Detroit.
One difference: Lawrence is starting out in a league built for passing and scoring. Jacksonville is doing neither and might now be dealing with confidence issues after averaging a paltry 12.3 points in six games since its bye week.
“When you lose, it plays with your mind,” coach Urban Meyer said. “You start searching for what’s the answers, what can you do better, what can we do better, and I think that’s where my mindset is right now. What can we do better? We’ve got five more opportunities, and some opportunities I think to win some games.
“There’s no simple answer or everybody would do it.”
Jacksonville was penalized three times for 39 yards against the Rams, the team’s least-flagged game in two months. Penalties had become a recurring problem for a team with such a small margin for error, and reducing them had become one of several priorities for Meyer.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Run defense has gone from a strength to a weakness. The Rams ran for 128 yards and averaged 4.7 yards a carry. It’s the fourth straight week that Joe Cullen’s defense has been gashed on the ground, a stretch in which Jacksonville is giving up 143.8 yards rushing a game.
Laquan Treadwell, the 23rd overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, has led Jacksonville in receiving the last two games. He has eight catches for 115 yards, taking on a bigger role in the wake of Agnew’s season-ending hip injury.
Jacksonville’s offense failed to top the 200-yard mark for the second time in 12 games. It’s never happened three times in any of the franchise’s 26 previous years. It happened twice in coach Doug Marrone’s four seasons (2017-20), four times in Gus Bradley’s four seasons (2013-16), twice in Mike Mularkey’s one year (2012), six times in Jack Del Rio’s nine seasons (2003-11), and three times in Tom Coughlin’s eight years (1995-2002).
C Brandon Linder (back spasms) and CB Tyson Campbell (abdominal) are undergoing treatment and are expected to play Sunday at Tennessee. CB Shaquill Griffin (concussion) should return after missing the last two games.
7 – number of consecutive loss at Tennessee. The Jaguars have dropped every game in Nashville since stunning the Titans 29-27 in 2013, their first victory following an 0-8 start.
End a seven-game skid in Nashville and a 14-game road losing streak, both franchise records.
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Mark Long, The Associated Press