Rookies Shine, Trevor Lawrence displays the best leverage of the Jaguars: 5 observations on the end of the 2021 season
The 2021 season is finally over for the Jacksonville Jaguars. After months of drama off the pitch, coaching changes and long Sundays, the Jaguars can now put 2021 behind them and hope for next season.
Luckily for the Jaguars, they ended the 2021 season with the longest possible win on Monday thanks to a 26-11 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at home. Not only will the Jaguars enter the offseason with a fresh victory in mind, but they have taken the victory in a dominant and convincing manner.
So what has Week 18’s win over the Colts mean for the Jaguars in the future and in the near term? We break it down below.
Rookie Draft Class Finally Shines With Increased Playing Time
Who knows what the 2021 season might have looked like if the Jaguars’ coaching staff let the rookies step onto the pitch and grow a bit more. The final record of 3-14 probably wouldn’t have changed much, but we could have seen even more examples of solid play from what now appears to be a solid class. Other than Trevor Lawrence and Tyson Campbell, the Jaguars rookie class hasn’t seen much of the field until the last few weeks. But after Sunday’s victory, we can at least know that the 2021 Jaguars Class has some serious advantages, at least when it comes to the first three selection rounds.
Trevor Lawrence had his best game of the season against a top defense in the NFL to force negative plays. Lawrence looked like a dynamic No.1 pick under center throughout the four quarters, making plays in and out of the offensive structure that showed why he was one of the top-rated quarterback prospects in recent years. .
Campbell had another strong performance, pulling off both the run support (eight tackles, including a one-on-one tackle for Jonathan Taylor’s loss and a touchdown tackle on the third down in the fourth quarter) and In front page. Campbell’s best cover play came late in the game as the Colts attempted a late comeback, with Campbell recovering late and helping to break a pass to Parris Campbell.
Walker Little made his third start of the season and allowed just one push in 39 pass-blocking snaps. Little looked comfortable on the left tackle for the second straight week, which had a positive impact as a pass protector and run blocker.
Then Andre Cisco made big play after big play once again, coming in support of several points for Taylor and also forcing a fumble in the first half on a tackle on Nyheim Hines.
The Jaguars rookie class has proven to be impressive against the Colts and there should be some real excitement around Lawrence, Campbell, Little and Cisco. Add Travis Etienne to the mix next season and the potential development of Jay Tufele and Jordan Smith, and the Jaguars should be happy with their rookie squad.
Roy Robertson-Harris and Adam Gotsis deserve to reprise their roles in 2022
The Jaguars beat the Colts on Sunday in large part because of a dominant performance from the defensive line, which was simply better than the Colts’ offensive line in all four quarters. Josh Allen and Dawuane Smoot combined for three sacks and plenty of stoppage time, while Malcom Brown and Jihad Ward each split one sack. But if there are two defensive linemen who should have a role in the squad next season in part depending on Sunday’s win, it’s Adam Gotsis and Roy Robertson-Harris.
Gotsis was a force for the Jaguars, stopping Taylor short twice on third and fourth and short. He’s been a dominant running defenseman for two years now, and Sunday was a show of Gotsis’ elite defense against one of the best running games in the entire NFL. And considering his lack of rushing traits is the main reason he’s not a starter, it was a good sign to see him register a sack and develop a good thrust down the middle.
Then there is Robertson-Harris. I’m of the opinion that Robertson-Harris was quietly one of the Jaguars’ best free agent additions, with the first-year Jaguar having played both run and pass in the second half of the season afterward. recovering from an early -season ankle injury. Robertson-Harris was the Jaguars’ top passer on Sunday, registering seven presses against an elite inside offensive line and looking like the dynamic and disruptive threat the Jaguars hoped to get when they signed him.
Jaguars continue to have Colts’ Jacksonville number one of NFL’s most mind-boggling streaks
No one can say the Colts didn’t try on Sunday. The Colts appeared to have seen a ghost after the game, utterly shocked and in disbelief at the prospect of losing a must-see game to a Jaguars team that came into the week as the worst in the entire NFL. But as shocking as the loss was – and it was truly the most shocking result of Week 18 – it was far from unusual when it comes to Colts / Jaguars lore. For some reason, the Jaguars have simply dominated the Colts at TIAA Bank Field and have been for almost a decade now.
“Because we haven’t played Colts football. And they dominated us at every level today. And I don’t know what it is here. They continue to dominate us every time we come. here, “Colts wide receiver TY Hilton said after the game.
This is where it all comes down to. The Colts haven’t won at Jacksonville since Blake Bortles’ rookie season in 2014. Even though the Colts have had the quarterback advantage in almost every one of those clashes and have been by far the best franchise since 2014, the Jaguars have just got their number in Jacksonville no matter what. That didn’t change on Sunday either, as the Jaguars just looked like a different team against the Colts than at any other time in 2021.
Trevor Lawrence once again shows why he’s the Jaguars’ biggest lever when looking for coaches
Trevor Lawrence was a revelation in Week 18. Even for those like me who think his game in 2021 was way better than his production said, it’s clear Week 18 was Lawrence’s best game by far. He made high-level shots after high-level shots, having only a handful of off-target passes the entire game and playing with his legs and arm in every possible situation. Lawrence had an elite performance against a Colts defense who had his number in Week 10, showing real growth.
For the Jaguars, there is nothing more they could have hoped for from Lawrence’s final than what he put on the pitch against the Colts. Prospective head coaches will now head to TIAA Bank Field with Lawrence’s performance in mind. Lawrence was already the Jaguars’ most valuable asset and biggest leverage in their coach search, but Sunday only reinforced why Lawrence should be so sought after by coaching candidates.
Week 18 went exactly as the Jaguars needed it to be, even with a quiet ‘Black Monday’
Jaguars fans didn’t get the news they wanted on Monday morning as Jaguars owner Shad Khan made no statement and incumbent GM Trent Baalke’s status was no different from that of the day before. But even with Baalke still in place on Monday, the Jaguars base can take comfort in the fact that Week 18 could not have gone better.
An end-of-season victory in front of an audience after a long year? To verify. To eliminate a divisional rival from the playoff image in a truly embarrassing way? To verify. Flexing the advantage of their quarterback situation as a fierce rival’s own quarterback ruined the game? To verify. To get the first choice in the general classification even after a victory? Check that one out too.
Everything went in the direction of the Jaguars on Sunday. It happens so rarely that it is worth reporting every time it happens, and no one can argue that it happened in week 18.