By Jeff Moeller
This one hurt.
Heading into the Eagles’ game, the Jaguars were on top of the Florida world and part of the football world. They arguably had played their best overall football over the past two games.
Were they ready for the big time? With the Jags, it is about character at this point.
Trevor Lawernce played like he was the best football prospect in years that everyone expected. Head coach Doug Pederson arrived with the coaching pedigree Jags’ fans anticipated when Urban Meyer came on board last season.
Offense, defense and special teams. It all was seemingly coming together at the right time, and Jaguar fans began to think about the possibilities of being an AFC South contender. Realistically, maybe it was too early, but it was a time to enjoy the moment,
Those feelings intensified in the opening quarter In Philadelphia Sunday. The Jags were crisp, clean, and intense as they built a 14-0 lead in a driving rain. Andre Cisco’s electrifying 59-yard pick six would help set the stage for a statement win over an undefeated team was in the works.
Then, the reality most believed would surface in Los Angeles surfaced in Philly. The Jags had a breakdown, one in which they could not recover.
The Eagles took over play in the second quarter and dominated the Jags on both sides of the ball. More importantly, the Jags’ aggressive defense appeared worn down and beaten on the line.
For the better part of the next two quarters, they didn’t have an answer for quarterback Jalen Hurts and running back Miles Sanders, who had a career-high 134 yards rushing.
The Jags did rally and closed to within 29-21 with 7:19 remaining.on Lawrence’s 8-yard touchdown flip to Jamal Agnew, their second touchdown tally on the afternoon
But Lawrence didn’t have the same magic he had in the past two games, and his offensive line couldn’t hold off the Eagles’ rush that registered four sacks. Lawrence also had a bad interception on a second-half drive that could possibly have changed momentum.
Along with a mediocre day for Lawrence, the Jags’ running game of James Robinson and Travis Etienne was bottled up by the Philly defense to 71 yards, and the Jags’ possession time was doubled by the Eagles.
Does this mean the Jags have slipped down a few rungs of the ladder? No.
It was a reality check, and most realized they aren’t in the league’s elite class yet. They are now longer a lower tier team either. The Jags have made strides.
Instead, the Jags now face their character test, needing a big rebound against the winless Houston Texans (0-4) at TIAA Field Sunday. They can also win their second divisional game.
For the Jags, this now has developed into a must win situation for them to get their pedigree back. Like the offense, the defense will need to prove themselves they are the team that surfaced against Indianapolis and Los Angeles.
If not, the Jags are back to a state they thought they had checked out.