'Don't give up on us': Jaguars' Urban Meyer era off to 0-2 start with glaring problems on offense

John Reid
Florida Times-Union

After an 0-2 start, it's already clear the Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence era in Jacksonville is not going to be anything like what both experienced in college — at least for the short term.    

Probably at no time when Meyer was leading Florida to two national championships and Ohio State to an 83-9 record and a national championship did his postgame news conference start with whether he felt like he got outcoached.

But the question was warranted, considering Lawrence started the game completing 5-of-7 passes for 73 yards and led the Jaguars on a 11-play, 83-yard opening touchdown drive — and then went the rest of the game passing for a measly 45 yards.  

Overall, the Jaguars were limited to 106 yards the rest of the way after their opening drive.

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Broncos safety Kareem Jackson, right, intercepts a pass in front of Jaguars tight end Luke Farrell during the second half.

And Meyer's response to whether he was outcoached by Broncos' Vic Fangio, who has been either a head coach or assistant in the NFL for 33 seasons?

''I don't know if I got outcoached. We lost a game,'' Meyer said. 

Jaguars receivers struggle, can't get separation

The Broncos dropped six and seven players back in coverage, and the Jaguars did not have either a B, C or D plan. Lawrence repeatedly looked downfield for receivers, but they couldn't get separation or find an open area in the Broncos' coverage.

Wide receiver Laviska Shenault dropped two passes. Rookie tight end Luke Farrell had a pass bounce off his hands. DJ Chark went missing in action, finishing with only one catch for 19 yards.

For Lawrence to be successful, he needs to have opportunities to connect quick dump-off passes over the middle to the tight ends instead of looking too often for the home run deep pass. Against the Broncos, the Jaguars' tight ends combined to make just two catches — one each by James O'Shaughnessy and Farrell.

The long-term future of the franchise appears to be in good hands with Meyer but the short-term progress has not been anything that was expected.

The Jaguars' offense is averaging 292 yards per game, the sixth-lowest in the NFL after two games. They are averaging just 17.0 points per game, tied with the Chicago Bears for the fifth-lowest in the league. Defensively, the Jaguars are allowing 423.5 yards per game, the fifth-highest in the league. They are surrendering 30.0 points, the eighth-highest.     

''We've all just got to get better,'' Lawrence said. ''It's not one certain thing, it's just all of us continuing to play well. All of us are having bright spots throughout the games, but just play after play, being consistent.'' 

Urban Meyer: 'Don't give up on us'

Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer paces the sideline during the first half Sunday.

In January, optimism reigned when Jaguars owner Shad Khan hired Meyer. After Sunday's game, Meyer made a plea to fans to hang in there.

''Don't give up on us,'' Meyer said. ''We're going to get better. The one thing about Jacksonville and the 904, go to sleep knowing there's not going to be any group work harder to get this thing flipped.''

It doesn't get any easier next week, when the Jaguars face the Arizona Cardinals, who improved to 2-0 after Sunday's 34-33 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Jaguars are a seven-point underdog at home according to the Las Vegas oddsmakers.   

No doubt, Meyer is seeking answers, and it may start with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's play-calling. The Jaguars need more effective counter moves to offset what opposing defenses are taking away.

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In Week 1, they weren't balanced enough. On Sunday, they again didn't run the ball enough, with just 16 run plays compared to 33 passes attempted.

For whatever reason, James Robinson is not the focal point of the offensive, even though he rushed for 1,040 yards last season. After just five carries in Week 1, he had 11 against the Broncos for 47 yards.

Earlier in the week, offensive guard A.J. Cann said the key to beating the Broncos would be to run directly at them.

However, the Broncos' offense controlled the clock with both their ground game and Teddy Bridgewater's passing. And their defense picked off Lawrence twice. The Jaguars had only 189 total yards on offense, and their time of possession was just more than 21 minutes compared to almost 39 minutes for the Broncos. 

With 17 consecutive losses that extends to last season, there is no quick fix for the Jaguars. Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., remains optimistic, though.

"I think we're pretty close,'' Jones said. ''I think you can see what we could be as an offense if we do what we did for four quarters. We have a good team and I know just even judging off the locker room right now, we believe that we are a very good team, and nobody doubts that in our locker room. So, that's all that matters, and we have to push forward and go from there."