The Jacksonville Jaguars are winners -- at least for today. After a wild four-quarter brawl overseas in London, the Jaguars overcame a halftime deficit, a 20-game losing streak, and some poorly timed missteps to overcome their bad luck and win a football game for the first time since Week 1, 2020.
But what did the win mean and how did the Jaguars get there? What will it change moving forward? We break it all down here.
Matthew Wright: the Wright choice at kicker for the rest of 2021
Matthew Wright will forever be remembered in Jaguars' lore following his performance on Sunday. It is a testament to himself that he came through as the unlikely hero, too, considering a performance a week ago that saw Wright miss a PAT and a field goal attempt. But on Sunday, missed kicks were a thing of the past, with Wright being automatic on all three of his attempts after being out of the NFL a few weeks ago. And as a result, Wright should get the nod as the kicker for the rest of 2021 over Josh Lambo, one of the best Jaguars kickers of all time. He has earned that right (earned that Wright, even).
Wright's lack of leg strength is an issue that will likely impact the Jaguars' kicking strategy moving forward, but it wasn't an issue that doomed them on Sunday. After coming up short on a 53-yard field goal a week ago against the Titans, Wright made kicks from 40, 54, and 53 to win the game on Sunday, with the final two kicks each coming with fewer than four minutes to play. The Jaguars likely lose that game with the 2021 version of Josh Lambo. Wright was the hero of Sunday, and as a result he should continue to get looks as the team's starting kicker.
Trevor Lawrence is the real deal
Trevor Lawrence's numbers may not look otherworldly (25-of-41 passing for 319 yards, 7.8 yards per attempt, one fumble lost, two sacks, and one touchdown), but don't let the box score tell you that he didn't have a game-winning performance that the Jaguars wouldn't have gotten out of any of their previous quarterbacks. Lawrence bounced back from a few missed throws (and some bad drops from his receivers group_ in the first half to deliver accurate ball after accurate ball in the second-half, doing so to a multitude of targets. Lawrence was mostly running for his life on Sunday, but it didn't matter, with the No. 1 overall pick consistently making big throws on the move, such as a 29-yard dime to Jamal Agnew in tight coverage on 2nd-and-15.
Lawrence technically is credited with a game-winning drive, but it was his prior drives that helped the Jaguars get their first win. Lawrence threw only one incompletion in the third-quarter and consistently turned potentially negative plays into solid gains that moved the chains. Lawrence showed dramatic growth, too, not forcing balls into coverage as the game got closer to the final play, something he struggled with in recent weeks. He did have one poor turnover on a red-zone sack-fumble, but he made up for it on numerous other scoring drives. Whether it was his big play to Agnew or his two 20+ yard throws to Marvin Jones down the right sideline (including a first-half touchdown), Lawrence is one of the two biggest reasons the Jaguars won on Sunday. Add in his lightning-quick release and accuracy on a simple but all-important slant in the final seconds, and Lawrence showed off the full skill set on Sunday.
Jacksonville won the coaching battle for the first time this season, but that was more due to Miami's mistakes
The Jaguars should send Brian Flores an honorary game ball for Sunday's win. It is hard to imagine the Jaguars win that game if Flores doesn't completely botch the second-half. For the first time this year, though, the Jaguars won the coaching battle. It is slightly concerning that it took an incompetent showing from the opponent for that to happen, but for the first time in the Urban Meyer era, the Jaguars were the better-coached team. And for the 1-5 Jaguars, that is a win they can't exactly complain about.
The Jaguars had some curious coaching moves of their own, such as their bad 4th-and-2 attempt deep into Dolphins' territory following Nevin Lawson's first-ever interception. But none of their coaching moves were quite as bad as Flores' two bad challenges on an incomplete pass and a punt that Agnew may or may not have touched. The latter would have effectively ended the game if Flores won the challenge, but that was an incredibly low % challenge. Add in Flores' bizarre call to go for it on fourth-down in his own territory with fewer than two minutes left, and the Jaguars got a major assist from the Dolphins. That isn't sustainable for their long-term success, but it made for a heck of a win on Sunday.
Even in victory, the defensive issues are still worrisome and even simplistic
Even in a victory, the Jaguars have a lot of self-reflection to do about their defense. The Jaguars allowed only 20 points, but that is in large part due to two bad Dolphins' turnovers and a few penalties that kept the Dolphins from turning field goal attempts into touchdown drives. The Jaguars were still routinely beat for big plays by what has been a bad offense, and this happened without two of the Dolphins' top three weapons. For example, Mack Hollins had four catches for 61 yards on Sunday after having only one catch for 10 yards in the first five games of the season. The Jaguars faced a bad and injured offense, but it still took the Dolphins getting in their own way for them to win the game.
The Jaguars' defense deserves some credit for a handful of second-half stops, while Shaquill Griffin once again had a lights out game. But ultimately, the Jaguars looked undermanned and unequipped to stop one of the worst offenses on their schedule. While the win will feel sweet, it is hard to think they don't have both talent and coaching issues on defense from the top to the bottom of the team. Jacksonville deserved the win, but the lack of starting-quality defenders and the inability to bring Tagovailoa down for sacks should both be concerning moving forward.
3 Detroit Lions castoffs helped the Jaguars break the worst losing streak in recent NFL history
Isn't it ironic that three of the most important participants in Jacksonville's first win in 21 games all came from the Detroit Lions? And that all three were either considered past their prime, inept, or simply overpaid and not good enough? But that is the case for the Jaguars on Sunday, with Marvin Jones, Darrell Bevell, and Jamal Agnew all help leading the charge to a victory. It adds to the story that the Jaguars and Lions entered Sunday as the NFL's only winless teams.
Marvin Jones came up with big grab after big grab, consistently making tough catches in contested situations against man coverage. Jones has always been more of a zone-beating receiver, but on Sunday he had his way with a banged-up Dolphins secondary, catching seven passes for 100 yards and one touchdown on 10 targets, all against a man-heavy Dolphins scheme.
Then there was Bevell. Bevell caught some deserved flak for the Jaguars nearly disastrous final drive, but opting to go for a quick slant to get Matthew Wright into field goal range with 0:05 left was a bold call when everyone in the stadium expected a Hail Mary. Lawrence and Shenault made the play happen, but Bevell deserves credit for the play-call, along with how he put Lawrence in solid situations throughout the day despite some missteps from his own offense.
Finally, Agnew. It is hard to believe that not too long ago, Jamal Agnew was an NFL cornerback who specialized as a return man. But following DJ Chark's injury, the Jaguars have been forced to turn to Agnew as a full-time starting slot receiver. Agnew made their faith in him pay off on Sunday, catching five passes for 78 yards on six targets (six targets