These are troubling times for the Jacksonville Jaguars. After back-to-back defeats at home, they head to their international outpost for a double-header in London that could make or break this season.
Rivals can see the discomfort.
“Well, you better be ready to roll and you better be ready to improve.” They will go into this game desperate,” said head coach Arthur Smith of the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday’s opponents at Wembley.
It wasn’t meant to be. The Jags were the bookmakers’ favorites to win their division again after last year’s unexpected but joyful play-off run.
The season started with a 31-21 win over Indianapolis. Then came a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. No shame in that.
The Jacksonville Jaguars arrive in London with a disappointing 1-2 record so far this season
But handing the Houston Texans their first win of the season was nerve-wracking. The Jags entered the game as 7.5-point favorites and lost 37-17. They scored two touchdowns in their last eight quarters.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence said, “We don’t complement each other on both sides of the ball. We leave a lot behind there.’
Against Houston, Lawrence wasn’t responsible for two key drops by star receiver Calvin Ridley, nor was he responsible for the toothless defense or several special teams blunders. All three phases fail.
Head coach Doug Pederson won Super Bowl LII with Philadelphia. He is calm and not prone to hasty statements.
Standing ashen-faced on Sunday, he was asked if his team had believed the preseason hype. “I think that’s real,” he said.
“I’ve been at this game too long to know that you can’t live in the past or you’ll fail in the future.”
The good news for the Jaguars is that there is time to turn this around. Last season, a record of 2-6 became 9-8 as they won their division for the first time since 2017 thanks to a timely fourth-quarter comeback.
And as they begin their eleven-day excursion to these shores, they find themselves in familiar territory.
Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence admitted the team would need to improve after a disappointing loss at home to the Houston Texans in Week 3
Head coach Doug Pederson remains confident the Jaguars can make the playoffs again
London’s de facto NFL team first played here a decade ago and has never arrived with a winning record. It wasn’t a particularly happy home from home either, with their record at 4-5.
But Lawrence thinks the journey can be positive. “I think if we use it the right way, it can be good for us,” he said. ‘I don’t think we need that to get a sense of urgency and play better. But if that is what we need, then it will come at the right time and we will take advantage of it.”
First up are the Falcons, who started off well with wins over Carolina and Green Bay, but were stymied by the Lions.
Atlanta has one of the best running games, led by exciting rookie Bijan Robinson and bull-like Tyler Allgeier.
If you win at Wembley the pressure will be off. But a third straight defeat would leave Jacksonville in complete panic as they prepare for a tough meeting with the Buffalo Bills in Tottenham next Sunday.
Lose both and the Jaguars are staring at 1-4. That would be really desperate.
Mike’s Miami speedsters showed us the future with a 70-point whirlwind
We have seen the future. And it was brutal.
Miami scored the fourth-most points in NFL history in a 70-20 win over Denver. And they made it look easy. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was great, they were very fast and scored 10 touchdowns.
The Dolphins also could have surpassed the 72 points Washington scored in 1966, but head coach Mike McDaniel declined to make a field goal in the final minutes.
McDaniel said he wanted to “maintain good karma with the Dolphins,” but he has good reasons to antagonize his boys team.
Tua Tagovailoa (left) and Tyreek Hill (right) rioted as the Miami Dolphins defeated the Denver Broncos 70-20 in Week 3
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has pitched his offense perfectly this season
Born and raised in Colorado, McDaniel was a Broncos ball boy as a teenager. After making a name for himself as an offensive mastermind in San Francisco, Denver opted not to interview him for their 2021 head coach vacancy, instead appointing Nathaniel Hackett.
Hackett was fired before Christmas. But his replacement Sean Payton – a Super Bowl-winning coach in 2009 – came to Denver after a year as an analyst for Fox TV.
He was not particularly complimentary about his predecessor. “It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in NFL history,” Payton said. He might want to read McDaniel’s guide to karma.
The pouting Payton was especially curt following the loss at the hands of the Dolphins. Never more so than when Denver Gazette reporter Chris Tomasson pointed out how historic the defeat was.
‘What is the question? I just finished telling you. Next question,” he snapped. Payton wasn’t expected to turn things around in Denver right away, but he looks even more like a self-centered dinosaur compared to the magnetic McDaniel.
I KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO CAUSE PROBLEMS…
The Chiefs swept aside the Bears in a 41-10 victory, but all eyes were on Taylor Swift.
The 12-time Grammy winner sat next to Donna Kelce – the mother of her new beau Travis – as he scored the fifth touchdown.
The game drew 24.3 million viewers for most of the weekend, and afterward Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was asked about the pairing.
“You know what, I’ve met her before,” Reid deadpanned. “I set them up.”
Taylor Swift (right) attended Kansas City’s dominant win over the Bears in Week 3 amid rumors about her blossoming relationship with Chiefs star Travis Kelce
Chiefs coach Andy Reid joked that he set Kelce and Swift up himself
NERVES OF STEEL
The Steelers’ charter plane suffered an oil pressure problem in the right engine and had to make an emergency landing in Kansas City on the way back from Sunday’s victory in Las Vegas.
They returned safely to Pittsburgh the next day on another plane.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said, “As we get away from it, we talk about it less because I don’t want it to be an excuse or some kind of enabler in any way.”
No rookie mistakes from Texans quarterback CJ Stroud, who has 906 passing yards in his first three starts.
The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft is the third player to accomplish the feat, joining Cam Newton (1,012 passing yards in 2011) and Justin Herbert (931 in 2020).
Elsewhere, No. 4 pick Anthony Richardson is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol and missed the Colts’ unexpected win in Baltimore, while No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young missed the Panthers’ loss in Seattle with an ankle injury.
The greatest quarterback in Jets history was unequivocal about the current incumbent.
After Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, the 80-year-old Namath said. ‘I wouldn’t keep him. I’ve seen enough of Zach Wilson.’
After criticizing the Arizona Cardinals in a previous piece, an apology to Jonathan Gannon.
The Cardinals are clearly no pushover, making no effort to land next year’s No. 1 draft pick, and have appeared in all three games – the last being a resounding win over the mighty Dallas Cowboys. Which, at least this week, are a joke.