JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — It’s not totally fair to judge quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Jacksonville’s offense off one game against arguably the best defense in the league. But it’s reasonable to look at Lawrence and the Jaguars after 10 weeks and have questions, probably even concerns.
Nothing feels right.
Lawrence has more turnovers (10) than touchdown passes (9) and is being sacked at a record rate. Calvin Ridley has been a non-factor way too often. Fellow receiver Zay Jones already has missed twice as many games this season than he did in his previous six years combined. And Jacksonville’s offensive line, a unit that’s been shuffled almost weekly, has opened few holes between the tackles and has Lawrence under more pressure than he's faced at any level in his lifetime.
The result: the Jaguars (6-3) rank 19th in total offense and 15th in scoring a few months after coach Doug Pederson said he believed his team was capable of averaging 30 points a game.
Jacksonville is roughly eight points off the mark, two points a game lower than last year. Pederson’s offense is still better than just about anything the Jags have delivered over the last two decades and might be good enough to win the mostly rebuilding AFC South.
But no one who’s watched this group play this season can feel like it’s on the verge of something special.
“You’re not going to win much in this league when the quarterback doesn’t play well,” Lawrence said following Sunday's 34-3 debacle against San Francisco.
Jacksonville has sputtered offensively. The team ranks 25th in third-down conversations, 29th in red-zone scoring and tied for 27th with 17 turnovers.
“We can’t expect to be a good football team when we’re turning over the ball, especially in the red zone,” receiver Christian Kirk said.
Many of those season-long problems had been masked by a defense that had 18 takeaways through its first eight games. The unit was scoring points, creating extra possessions and giving Lawrence and Co. a number of short fields.
When those dried up against the 49ers, Jacksonville looked overmatched. The Jaguars turned the ball over four times and finished with their fewest points in Pederson’s two seasons.
“We can’t hit the panic button. We can’t make it more than it is,” Lawrence said. “We played terrible. We laid an egg. Nothing went right. We didn’t do anything right and we got to bounce back and play better next week. We got to flush it quick, and we will.
“The leaders on this team, we’ve been talking. We are made of the right stuff. You got to handle a little adversity along the way and that’s what this is.”
Jacksonville’s red-zone defense has been solid all season — ranking eighth in the league — and was a bright spot against San Francisco. The Niners scored one touchdown on four trips inside the 20-yard line, settling for two field goals and getting stuffed in the final minutes when San Francisco tried to get star running back Christian McCaffrey the NFL record for consecutive games with a score.
The Jaguars have allowed five TDs in opponents’ last 14 trips to the red zone.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Jaguars need to play better at home. They’re 1-3 at EverBank Stadium and have failed to score a touchdown in games against Super Bowl contenders Kansas City and San Francisco.
Brandon McManus has made 14 consecutive field goals, including four from beyond 50 yards. His 37-yarder against the 49ers was all of Jacksonville’s scoring on a dismal day.
Rookie running back Tank Bigsby probably needs to take a seat on the bench for good. The third-round draft pick from Auburn has two fumbles and two dropped passes that resulted in interceptions in just 29 touches. He’s also averaging 2.3 yards a carry.
Punt/kick returner Jamal Agnew (shoulder) and CB Tyson Campbell (hamstring) were scheduled to have more tests Monday. WR Jones is expected to miss at least another week with lingering knee soreness.
49 — Lawrence's total turnovers in three seasons. He has three fewer TD passes.
The Jaguars host Tennessee (3-6) on Sunday, a chance to gain a tighter grip atop the division and double their win total at home.
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