After offseason buildup, Jaguars, Meyer open with meltdown

Sep 12, 2021, 8:18 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2021, 1:16 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Urban Meyer expected some jitters from his young team, even a few mistakes. After all, Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars were on the road with a rookie quarterback to start the franchise’s latest rebuild.

What Meyer got was closer to a meltdown.

The Jaguars looked downright unprepared in their season opener, a 37-21 loss at Houston that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might indicate.

Six dropped passes. Ten penalties. Countless defensive lapses. Several burned timeouts.

“We’ve all got our (butt) kicked before,” Meyer said, insisting his team will play better next Sunday against Denver, which beat the Giants.

It was Meyer’s first loss in a season opener as a head coach – he had been 17-0 during stops at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State – and the first time he lost his debut with a new team.

This one will be remembered for Jacksonville’s self-inflicted issues: four holding penalties and four pre-snap procedure penalties. Throw in Trevor Lawrence’s three interceptions and the Jaguars didn’t have a chance.

“It obviously sucks,” Lawrence said. “Losing’s always hard, especially when you feel like you’re prepared and had a great week and really think we were ready. Just obviously didn’t play well. It starts with me. I played really bad. Disappointing for sure. …

“We’ve got to watch it and learn from it, for sure, but then flip the page. It’s a long season. We can’t let this snowball. We’ve got to move on and go win next week.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The first three-interception game of Trevor Lawrence’s life included a few bright spots, and for a floundering franchise that spent two decades searching for a quarterback, that’s a positive. Lawrence’s first career touchdown pass came on a perfect read and throw down the seam to tight end Chris Manhertz. Lawrence later threw a 41-yard strike down the sideline to DJ Chark for a score. The No. 1 overall pick ended up completing 28 of 51 passes for 332 yards in his NFL debut, with three TDs and three picks. It wasn’t great, but the Jaguars feel like it’s something they can build on going forward.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Jacksonville’s revamped defense looked about the same as last year’s season-long debacle. The Jags gave up 449 yards, generated little pass rush (one sack) and couldn’t get off the field on third downs (Texans converted 57%). The performance probably should have been expected considering Meyer used three of his first four draft picks on offensive players and took a “value” approach in free agency that yielded several second-tier starters, including cornerback Shaquill Griffin, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, linebacker Damien Wilson and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris. Meyer also went with first-time NFL defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. The unit could get better, but it seems unlikely to become a star-studded group capable of winning many games.

STOCK UP

Tight end James O’Shaughnessy had a career-high six receptions for 48 yards. He didn’t do anything flashy, but the seventh-year pro was steady at a position that appeared to be a weak spot heading into the season.

STOCK DOWN

Chark dropped two passes and was flagged for illegal formation, hardly an ideal start for a guy entering the final year of his rookie contract. Chark caught three passes for 86 yards, including a 41-yard score late in the third quarter of a lopsided game. But he was targeted a team-high 12 times. In fairness, it was Chark’s first live action since breaking a finger early in training camp and requiring surgery.

INJURIES

Cornerback Tre Herndon (knee) was ruled out early last week and likely will miss another game. His absence forced the Jags to go with second-year pro CJ Henderson in the starting lineup and rookie Tyson Campbell as their nickel cornerback.

KEY NUMBER

365 – number of days since Jacksonville’s last win. The Jaguars opened the 2020 season with a home victory against Indianapolis and then dropped 15 in a row. The franchise-record skid now stands at 16 heading into the Week 2 game against Denver.

NEXT STEPS

Find some offensive identity and balance. Meyer said repeatedly over the last eight months that he wants to be able to run the ball, but Jacksonville hardly tried in Houston. James Robinson carried just four times for 22 yards in the first half as Jacksonville opened five of six drives with passes.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III, right, goes up for a basket as Denver Nuggets guard Jam...
Associated Press

Murray, Jokic help Nuggets hold off Pelicans 122-113

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray is locked in right now — with his shot, with his swagger and especially with his confidence in his team. “It’s fun to play basketball,” the Denver point guard said. “But we still have room to improve. We’re not satisfied with where we’re at.” Murray scored 32 points, Nikola Jokic […]
1 day ago
FILE - Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) drives past Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker (...
Associated Press

Griner’s return, free agency raises charter flight concerns

Brittney Griner’s return to the WNBA this summer after being traded in a dramatic prisoner swap in December with Russia has collided with free agency, creating potential travel complications for the league out of safety concerns for her. If Griner, who is a free agent but has said she’ll return to Phoenix, needs special travel […]
1 day ago
Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton drives past Charlotte Hornets' Terry Rozier during the second half...
Associated Press

Bucks beat Hornets 124-115 for 5th consecutive victory

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton is making the most of his limited minutes as he works his way back from injuries that kept him from playing for much of the season. Middleton scored 18 points and sparked a third-quarter run that put the Milwaukee Bucks ahead for good as they beat the Charlotte Hornets 124-115 […]
1 day ago
Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, right, slaps the ball away from Chicago Bulls forward DeMar...
Associated Press

Leonard, Powell lead Clippers past Bulls, 108-103

CHICAGO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points and Norman Powell added 27 to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Chicago Bulls 108-103 on Tuesday night. Paul George added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who’ve won six of seven. Nikola Vucevic had 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Bulls, […]
1 day ago
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis (3) defends a shot by New York Knicks' RJ Barrett (9) during the ...
Associated Press

James has triple-double, leads Lakers past Knicks in OT

NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James will soon be the NBA’s top scorer, though that was never his focus. He’s also one of the game’s leading passers, and combining the two — possibly better than anyone ever — is what really makes him proud. “I didn’t get to this point in my career by thinking […]
1 day ago
Kansas forward K.J. Adams Jr. (24) dunks the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketba...
Associated Press

No. 8 Kansas avenges earlier loss to No. 7 K-State, 90-78

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jalen Wilson remembers every slight. Every criticism. Every chip that’s landed on his shoulder. You can bet the Kansas forward remembers watching Kansas State fans storm the court after beating the Jayhawks. So with revenge on their mind, Wilson and his pals jumped on the seventh-ranked Wildcats in the rematch Tuesday […]
1 day ago
After offseason buildup, Jaguars, Meyer open with meltdown