After loss, the Jacksonville Jaguars look to rebound against AFC South

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It would have been hard for the Jacksonville Jaguars to play much worse than they did against the Philadelphia Eagles in the rain on Sunday.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence turned the ball over five times and became the first player to lose four fumbles in a game since 1979. Receivers dropped five passes, including three by Christian Kirk. The NFL’s top-ranked run defense gave up 210 yards and four touchdowns.

And yet, despite all that, the Jaguars still had a chance to tie the game in the final two minutes until Lawrence’s final fumble. Which is why the prevailing feeling after the game at Lincoln Financial Field was anger because there is now a belief inside the locker room that things have started to turn around for one of the league’s worst franchises.

“They're disappointed. They're mad. They're upset,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I think they're starting to believe just how special they are [and] how good they can be, you know? Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way and just kind of go play.”

The Jaguars did that in Weeks 2 and 3 in routs of the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. Lawrence completed 77% of his passes, threw five touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over. Kirk had 12 catches, Zay Jones had 13 and James Robinson ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns. The defense gave up just 10 points and held Jonathan Taylor and Austin Ekeler to a combined 59 yards rushing. The Jaguars committed a combined five penalties.

They definitely got in their own way against the Eagles as well as in the season opener at the Washington Commanders, when they committed 13 penalties and blew an eight-point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining.

It’s pretty clear that while the Jaguars may be better than they’ve been the past two seasons, they still don’t have much margin for error. Good teams are able to play badly and still win games, even on the road. The Jaguars (2-2) just aren’t there yet.

“Obviously, we think about [both losses being by one score] all the time, but you can’t go back in the past and change things,” said receiver Jamal Agnew, who stepped in for an injured Jones (ankle) against the Eagles and caught four passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns. “… We’re a really good team, especially when we’re out there executing like we’re supposed to be, offense, defense, special teams, we’re going to be one of the best teams in this league. We’ve got to do the little things to get to that level to talk like that.”

If the Jaguars adjust the way they did between the Week 1 loss at Washington and the Week 2 shutout of Indianapolis, they could take early control of the AFC South. They play host to the Houston Texans (0-3-1) -- whom they haven’t beaten since December 2017 -- and travel to Indianapolis (1-2-1) in the next two weeks.

After that are three consecutive home games against the New York Giants (3-1), Denver Broncos (2-2) in London and the Las Vegas Raiders (1-3).

So there’s a chance, if the Jaguars have learned anything and can string together more than two clean football games, for them to have a winning record heading into Thanksgiving.

“Oh, we’re going to respond,” Agnew said. “There’s no doubt about that. We know what we need to clean up. The encouraging part about it is we turned the ball over five or six times [against Philadelphia], and we still had a chance to win the game.

“That’s credit to the defense for getting big stops, but we’ve just got to get out there and make more plays.”