It is Monday across the NFL, which means despair for 15 teams and joyous celebrations from 15 others. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, they find themselves in the former category after a 23-13 loss to Denver in Week 2.
The Jaguars' second loss of 2021 saw several key players injured, while the Jaguars' No. 1 overall pick and star quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a so-so day at the office. To provide updates on the injuries, Lawrence, and more, we break down head coach Urban Meyer's Monday media conference in this week's Jaguars Notebook.
Urban Meyer provides injury updates on Laviska Shenault, CJ Henderson, A.J. Cann, and James O'Shaughnessy
The Jaguars had four key players injured during Sunday's home loss against Denver, including three offensive starters. CJ Henderson, A.J. Cann and James O'Shaughnessy all left the game early with injuries, while Laviska Shenault reportedly had an MRI on his shoulder following the 23-13 loss. Considering the vast importance of each of these players to the Jaguars' depth, the Jaguars got relatively good news on each when Meyer met with the media.
Laviska Shenault: "Laviska has a shoulder. He’ll be practicing this week. He should play this week."
A.J. Cann: "A.J. Cann had a real minor hamstring. He should be good to go this week."
CJ Henderson: "CJ Henderson is a mild groin issue. We’re not sure yet on that one."
James O'Shaughnessy: "James O’Shaughnessy’s going to be out for a few weeks. He has a high ankle."
In short, the Jaguars will most likely have Shenault and Cann on the field against the Cardinals in Week 3, which is optimal news for the offense. Henderson's status looks like it is much more up in the air, though the Jaguars are likely getting veteran cornerback Tre Herndon back on Sunday. As for O'Shaughnessy, the Jaguars are now having to move to Plan B at tight end for the foreseeable future.
Jaguars' search for tight ends has hit a desperation point
The state of the Jaguars' tight end room was bad enough entering the season, but things just got a whole lot worse. The Jaguars' only serviceable full-time pass-catching tight end on the active roster each of the last two Sundays was O'Shaughnessy, with O'Shaughnessy seeing nine of the Jaguars' 14 targets thrown to tight ends through two weeks. O'Shaughnessy is the only Jaguars' tight end with multiple catches, with rookie tight end Luke Farrell looking in over his head against the Broncos.
Ultimately, the Jaguars' only realistic option is to activate Jacob Hollister on game days and get him more involved in the offensive scheme. Without him, the Jaguars truly don't have a tight end worth making a focus in the passing game, with both Farrell and Chris Manhertz having more value as blockers than as receivers.
"That’s a problem," Meyer admitted on Monday. "We have Hollister. [He] is a guy that we signed to the team, and he’s not been activated, so our plan right now is to activate him and keep an APB out for what is out there."
Meyer thinks a pair of Jaguars' rookies are close to making an impact
The Jaguars haven't exactly gotten much from their rookie class despite having nine draft picks. In fact, they have gotten nearly nothing from the class outside of Trevor Lawrence's two starts at quarterback. Tyson Campbell is the team's third cornerback and Andre Cisco sees between 15-20 defensive snaps a game, but the Jaguars have otherwise gotten nothing from their rookies -- the result of the Jaguars declaring three of those rookies (Walker Little, Jay Tufele, Jordan Smith) inactive for each of the past two weeks.
Smith was dealing with a knee injury last week so shouldn't be seen as a healthy scratch, but both Little and Tufele were rookies expected to make an impact in 2021. So far, neither has even suited up to be a backup during a game week, but Meyer thinks each rookie is on the verge of changing that.
“Both those guys are close. Both those guys just keep getting better in practice. Both the two guys you mentioned are trending positively. Those guys are every week in consideration to move up," Meyer said. "We moved up Adam Gotsis this week and he was one of the players of the week or graded a very good effort. But those two are good names that are coming up the ranks.”
Trevor Lawrence's overthrows seen as "fixable"
No starting quarterback has been as inaccurate as Trevor Lawrence through two weeks, with Lawrence's 50% completion rate coming in at dead last among all quarterbacks with two starts. This showed up often on Sunday, with Lawrence missing high often after a terrific start to the game. Lawrence has done a terrific job of handling pressure early on as a rookie, but his actual mechanics and ability to deliver a catchable ball to all levels of the field has still been a work in progress.
Luckily for Lawrence and the rest of the Jaguars' offense, Meyer says he sees Lawrence's misses as fixable. Lawrence is doing all of the important things right and has shown the ability to make every throw, but the Jaguars are simply needing the game to slow down and for Lawrence to settle in as he takes coaching.
“We just got done watching it and one was the ball came out of his hand. It was during the rain right before the half. That’s a result usually of over-striding, you’re getting anxious when some guy pops open and you throw it high. So, there’s not one reason," Meyer said.
"That’s something we’re addressing and [Passing Game Coordinator Brian] Schottenheimer’s going to work with him on that, but we saw the same thing. It’s all fixable.”
Jaguars still looking for big play generators following Travis Etienne injury
If there is one thing the Jaguars have struggled to consistently build upon, it is their big-play factor on offense. They have had spurts here and there, such as Lawrence's 44-yard touchdown to DJ Chark in Week 1, but for the most part the Jaguars' offense has been both inefficient and unexplosive.
A big reason for that has been Lawrence's inability to get on the same page with DJ Chark and Tyron Johnson, the Jaguars' two top deep threats. But an even bigger reason is the fact that the Jaguars simply don't have the weapons to spread the field out and win foot races outright. This is largely the result of the Jaguars' offense become significantly less explosive when rookie running back Travis Etienne was injured for the season.
“Well, one issue, and it remains to be an issue, is the big play hits. Marvin [Jones Jr.]’s kind of our guy right now and DJ [Chark Jr.] had one. Laviska [Shenault Jr.], we have to get him more involved in some big play opportunity," Meyer said Monday.
"We have Devin Smith. He was sick last week so he was inactivated. Against the Cowboys, he made a nice play. To answer your question, Travis Etienne [Jr.] was brought in for that reason because when the ball’s in his hands, usually good things happen. Obviously, we’ll have to wait until next year.”