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Jaguars failed to build enough around QB Lawrence - it shows as slide continues

Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence - The Canadian Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Trevor Lawrence could have used more help in the offseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke and coach Doug Pederson failed to sufficiently build around their franchise quarterback, and the fallout has become clear as the team’s once-promising season disintegrates in December.

Newcomer Calvin Ridley is a decent No. 2 receiver despite missing nearly two full seasons, and rookie right tackle Anton Harrison, a first-round draft pick, looks like a solid starter for years to come.

But the Jaguars (8-7) should and could have done more to bolster the team’s receiving group and its offensive line. Instead, they seemingly squandered a second-round draft pick on a tight end with four catches, a third-rounder on a running back with ball-security issues and a fourth-rounder on an oft-injured linebacker who was hurt again in training camp.

The result: Lawrence is scrambling every week behind a shaky line and making mistakes that Pederson pins on receivers who don’t properly respond to pre-snap adjustments made at the line of scrimmage.

“It looks like we don’t even practice,” Lawrence said following a 30-12 loss at Tampa Bay. “The stuff that we’re doing, we look lost, no sense of urgency. I mean the list goes on and on.”

Lawrence has been sacked a career-high 35 times and has accounted for nearly as many turnovers (19) as touchdowns (23) this season. Despite his struggles and the team’s four-game losing streak, the Jaguars (8-7) remain atop the AFC South heading into Sunday’s home game against Carolina (2-13).

It’s unclear whether Lawrence will even be in the starting lineup for the team’s home finale. He sprained his right shoulder scrambling for a first down against the Buccaneers and missed much of the fourth quarter. Jacksonville signed Matt Barkley off the New York Giants’ practice squad Tuesday as an insurance policy.

Lawrence has started 51 consecutive games since Jacksonville chose him first overall in 2021. But he’s been banged up lately, dealing with a sprained knee, a sprained ankle, a concussion and now a shoulder injury.

Pederson points to offensive injuries as the main culprit for the team’s skid. Left tackle Cam Robinson and receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones have missed multiple games, and Jacksonville’s offensive line is slated to use its ninth starting combination in 16 games.

The drop-off has been glaring, with backups contributing to turnovers and Lawrence’s growing list of injuries.

“We’ve got to coach them up better,” Pederson said. “We got to make sure that they’re on the same page with Trevor and our quarterbacks. We can’t make those mistakes in games. … We’ve got to do our part as a staff to make sure that these things don’t happen in the future.”


For the first time in weeks, Jacksonville couldn’t say penalties were an issue. The Jags were flagged twice for 20 yards against Tampa Bay, their lowest totals since Week 2.


Lawrence was Jacksonville’s leading rusher for the second consecutive game. That’s a huge concern for a team that thought running back Travis Etienne was emerging as a top playmaker a month ago.

Etienne has 16 carries for 43 yards in his past two games and hasn’t topped 50 yards rushing in any outing since Week 12.


Tight end Evan Engram caught 10 passes for 95 yards against the Bucs, giving him 24 receptions for 205 yards and three touchdowns in the past three weeks. He’s been Lawrence’s most dependable pass catcher since Kirk landed on injured reserve with a groin injury that required surgery.


Brandon McManus has missed five of his past six field-goal attempts — all of them from 48 yards or longer. It’s a surprising slump for a veteran who had made 20 in a row between late September and late November.


The Jaguars will have a better idea as the week goes about Lawrence’s chances of playing despite an AC shoulder sprain. Robinson (knee) and Jones (hamstring) are expected to return this week. Backup safety Daniel Jones landed on IR because of a broken left forearm.


5 — number of losses the Jaguars have at EverBank Stadium this season. They are 2-5 at home and have scored more points in their two wins (71) in Jacksonville than their five losses (67) combined.


Jacksonville can clinch the AFC South with a win against Carolina combined with losses by Houston (vs Tennessee) and Indianapolis (vs Las Vegas).