The Jacksonville Jaguars have a big problem. A problem that has seeped into the very roots of their disastrous post-bye week month.
The problem becomes more apparent each week as each offensive game plan proves to be futile.
That problem? A team with a Ferrari at quarterback has been unable to pave one drivable road, with the Jaguars continuing to fail to make any plays in the passing game during a 30-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers that serves as a microcosm for Lawrence's rookie season.
Lawrence and the Jaguars' passing game was completely neutered against the 49ers, a continuation of a month-long struggle to put together a passing game that can foster development for the team's No. 1 overall pick. Lawrence finished the game 16-of-25 passing (64%) for 158 yards, just 6.3 yards per attempt. Add in the Jaguars' three allowed sacks and the offense created just 158 yards on 28 dropbacks -- 5.64 attempts per dropback.
To say those numbers aren't enough to win in an NFL game in 2021 is an understatement. And it was the third game in a row, too, in which Lawrence didn't throw a touchdown pass and didn't eclipse 165 yards through the air. There is no argument against the lack of production.
But is that production the result of sloppiness at quarterback? It can be debated whether that is true for the last month as a whole -- with Lawrence especially struggling in Week 10 -- but for the 49ers' game alone, it is clear where the blame falls, and where it has fallen for much of the Jaguars' down year on offense.
“Actually, [it was] one of his better games. There was some surrounding casts that at times didn’t do very well, but Trevor [Lawrence] would be the first one to tell you when he doesn’t play well," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said on Monday.
"In my mind, he played well. Good enough? No, not good enough. But he played well, made some great throws, scrambled when he had to, made the right reads on some of them. So, we’ve just got to put it together in all areas and we’re not right now.”
Putting it together is where the Jaguars are struggling and have struggled since Lawrence's first snap in the NFL. There have been some mistakes from Lawrence, such as his interception-riddled first few weeks, but games like Sunday -- where Lawrence was credited by PFF with zero turnover throws despite being down by multiple possessions all game -- sum up Lawrence's rookie year and the Jaguars' offensive issues.
When it comes to a team's supporting cast, it comes down to four areas: play-calling/scheme, pass-catchers, offensive line, and running game. And on Sunday, it is hard to say anything but the Jaguars' scheme gave the offense a chance.
The Jaguars mixed in RPOs to get the ball out of Lawrence's hand and get him into a rhythm early on, with two of his first three passes being RPOs to Laviska Shenault. Neither resulted in a first down, with the latter resulting in a fumble. By the time Lawrence threw his second pass past the line of scrimmage, the score was already 17-0.
But aside from the RPOs, the Jaguars also introduced some tendency-breakers and man-coverage route beaters to help Lawrence. This included running play-action passes with Laviska Shenault in the backfield for the first time, drawing the eyes of the linebacker who likely assumed off film study that Shenault in the backfield meant he was set to get a carry.
But what about the other factors in the offense?
The running game was less than impactful, in large part due to the Jaguars falling to 17-0 following four plays but also in large part due to James Robinson's heel/knee injury, which has kept him below 100%.
Robinson rushed 12 times for just 29 yards on Sunday, one of his worst figures of the season as the second-year back looked less explosive than any other point this year. In total, a Jaguars' running game that was humming at the bye week recorded just 54 yards on 16 carries -- with 23 of those yards coming on Lawrence scrambles.
Add in the offensive line and supporting cast in terms of pass-catchers, and it is hard to say the Jaguars did much to help their quarterback. The offensive line was put at a disadvantage by the 17-0 score, but Nick Bosa teed off on Jawaan Taylor, Cam Robinson and J, with the 49ers recording 15 pressures, five quarterback hits, and three sacks.
Then there is a receiver room who dropped at minimum two passes, each of which would have been a first-down. This included one of Lawrence's best plays of the season from a processing standpoint. From the reads to the pocket movement and toughness to the accuracy, it was all there ... except for the catch.
In short, the 49ers' game was a collective failure by the Jaguars around Lawrence. Lawrence's mistakes were minimal, yet the Jaguars were still able to do less than nothing on offense. Despite a supremely talented quarterback, the Jaguars failed to complete a pass further than 18 yards in the first three quarters.
There was the occasional misread by Lawrence, but few inaccurate passes and even fewer poor decisions. And even on plays such as his incompletions, you can see positive progress being made despite the results continu being the same.
Why is that the case? The film on Sunday suggests the Jaguars simply weren't good enough on the outside or up front, while their running game was rendered non-existent. And in total, that really sums up why the Jaguars have failed to score multiple touchdowns in more than one game over the last month.
"It’s been more than that. It’s been four weeks actually. Ever since, I thought, Miami. There was a lot of promise, a lot of good things being done. Before that, I saw steady improvement," Meyer said on Monday about his team's offensive regression.
"And you’re correct. I think when James [Robinson] got dinged, if you remember he had two big runs in the Seattle game and he comes out. I don’t want to put it all on him because he’s obviously a very valuable member. But whenever someone goes down, someone else has to pick up that flag and go harder, and we’re not getting that right now.
"Yeah, I think whenever things aren’t—You know, on defense, I commend our staff. I’ve met with our staff many times and we’ve adjusted, adapted to our personnel and we’re playing better. Even yesterday, you had three sacks on that first drive, I believe, and two of them were negated because of penalties, offside and a hold. I like the way our defense, when you say you give up that many points—to me that was when you have a 20-play drive, you hold them to three points and had three sacks in that drive and you get extended by penalties, I consider that a win. But then 30 seconds later, the defense is back on the field and then 30 seconds again later, they’re back because of a fumble. Everybody has got to hold up their end of the bargain.”
Lawrence's game against the 49ers was nothing spectacular, but it was infinitely better than the box score suggests. The process was there, but the results were not, a result born out of the failures around the quarterback. And so far, that sums up the Jaguars' entire season -- and especially their last month.