In what was a should’ve been a favorable game for the Jaguars, they ended up losing painfully, by a field goal 31-34. Although on paper it’s just one more in the loss column, it feels like a much bigger loss when you look at the big picture.
Jacksonville is by far the smallest market in the NFL which comes with plenty of disadvantages. Whether it’s having a much smaller fan base, being a less attractive destination for free agents, or being consistently disrespected by the national media, Jacksonville often has an uphill battle.
After a lengthy 12-year period in which the league had deemed Jacksonville too irrelevant, they finally got their chance to host a Monday Night game last night.
Back on Jacksonville’s last Monday Night Football appearance in 2011:
🏈Mel Tucker was the Jaguars’ HC.
🏈The Jaguars QB was Blaine Gabbert.
🏈Trevor Lawrence was 12 years old. https://t.co/uhvwIFKx8i
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 4, 2023
It was a chance to prove that Jacksonville really deserves to be an NFL city.
A chance to shut up the fans who tease the Jaguars about being the league’s first international team.
A variety of factors forced the city and the team to take multiple steps backward last night.
Right on the first play of scrimmage, the air was taken out of the stadium after Christian Kirk suffered a core injury on a 26-yard catch. Kirk was barely able to walk off the field. On that play, the Jags lost arguably their best and most consistent receiver.
Still, Trevor Lawrence persevered and led multiple touchdown drives throughout the first and early second halves.
Even without Kirk, the Jaguars’ offense was clicking on the national stage. A truly beautiful thing to see for the first time in 12 years.
However, the defense was trending in the opposite direction. A lack of first-half pressure allowed Jake Browning to get into a rhythm that Jacksonville’s defense couldn’t take him out of. Browning’s 86.5% completion percentage slowly wore down the defense.
With all the adversity Lawrence’s team had faced, he was still able to get them to a 28-21 lead near the end of the third quarter.
After Jake Browning led his squad to another touchdown, disaster struck Lawrence. When he dropped back in shotgun, he got tangled up with left tackle Walker Little and both players got hurt.
After Trevor Lawrence's injury, Trey Hendrickson got down on a knee and took a moment for Trevor.pic.twitter.com/MA42ekGut7
— Live Sports (@DailySportsFree) December 5, 2023
Lawrence immediately knew something was wrong. He tried to walk it off but fell to his knees after realizing the severity. As Lawrence pounded the turf and threw his helmet off in frustration, fans and players were seriously concerned for their franchise quarterback.
While C.J. Beathard was able to put together some good plays, it wouldn’t be enough to lift the Jaguars after Trevor Lawrence got hurt.
In what could’ve been a major morale booster not only for the city but for the team, Jacksonville lost almost everything. They limped out of the game with seven starters injured, including Tyson Campbell, Andre Cisco, Foley Fatukasi, Walker Little, Christian Kirk, Travis Etienne Jr. and Trevor Lawrence.
The loss puts Jacksonville at 8-4, just one game in front of both Houston and Indianapolis. Slip-ups versus the Browns and Ravens in the coming weeks could easily see the AFC South power dynamics shift.
All the injuries suffered last night will make going against Cleveland a tough challenge, especially with their elite defense.
In the meantime, the Jaguars must focus on rest and recovery. It’s already been reported that Christian Kirk could be out for an extended time. Trevor Lawrence is day-to-day, but that seems generous based on what we saw happen last night.
Jaguars’ WR Christian Kirk suffered a core muscle injury and, according to Doug Pederson, is now expected to miss “some time.” https://t.co/cDpM630zJR
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 5, 2023
Jacksonville will have to rally just to keep a playoff spot, let alone stay on top of their division. These next weeks will be a test to see how well-coached this team truly is.