In what ended up being the Jaguars’ season finale, the Jaguars lost to the Titans in Tennessee. The loss knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs, putting the team in a rocky situation going forward. Moves have already been made, and there are plenty more to come.
While the Jaguars’ offseason is already underway, the Jaguars’ season finale still featured important performances to take note of going forward for the Jaguars. Some players showed their worth, some created more questions, and others showed that their roster spot isn’t a guarantee for 2024. Let’s look at some of those players’ performances in the Jaguars’ season finale against the Titans to determine who slayed or bombed.
it’s important to look at individual efforts in the season’s final week.
Jaguars’ Season Finale: Slay
While Engram was responsible for a turnover in the Jaguars’ season finale, the overall performance outdid that mistake considering the surrounding circumstances. There were plenty of opportunities for the Jaguars, and they never capitalized on them. Engram had an incredible season and finished his 2023 campaign off on a high-volume note.
On 13 targets, Engram had 10 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. With Zay Jones performing below expectations and Christian Kirk out, Engram took on a much larger role for the Jaguars near the end of the season. In the Jaguars’ season finale, Engram’s role was again prominent, as he led the Jaguars in targets.
His one major blunder was costly, but overall the Jaguars desperately needed his playmaking ability and without him, the Jaguars would’ve been lost. A single mistake, that at the end of the day shouldn’t have been the difference, is not enough to knock Engram from a Slay to a Bomb at this point in the season.
Another player in a similar situation to Engram is Calvin Ridley. Ridley had an impressive day through the air, with 10 targets totaling six receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a beautiful throw from Lawrence, where Ridley took it 59 yards to the house.
But, similarly to Engram, there was one play that was more notable than any other for Ridley. Late in the game, Lawrence tried connecting with Ridley on a deep shot that would’ve brought the Jaguars close to tying the game. However, they missed. The ball was a tad too deep for Ridley, even though he got his hands on it. If completed, the Jaguars might’ve been in the playoffs.
The missed deep shot in the Jaguars’ season finale encapsulated the Jaguars’ entire season. Great players just not on the same page, just barely missing the chance to win in a critical moment. Part of the blame is on Lawrence, and part is on Ridley. Constant back-breaking mistakes for the Jaguars have plagued them all season long, including the latest collapse.
The one player that’s still underrated to this point in the season is Andre Cisco. Despite being one of the better safeties in the game, Cisco never gets the flowers he deserves. In the Jaguars’ season finale, Cisco picked off Ryan Tannehill late to give the Jaguars a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Jaguars offense couldn’t get it done.
While the defense struggled against Derrick Henry, Andre Cisco put together a performance that only helped the Jaguars, something that can’t be said for plenty of the players on the field for the Jaguars’ season finale. Cisco made one big play, that should’ve been remembered as one of the turning points in the Jaguars’ season towards making the playoffs. But, the offense couldn’t execute, and therefore the Cisco interception became less meaningful than it was.
Jaguars’ Season Finale: Bomb
For Jaguars fans, Luke Fortner has been a huge issue all season. From even 2022, Jaguars fans have been worried about the play of Fortner. In the Jaguars’ season finale, those concerns came to a head multiple times. For Fortner, who has struggled all season, one play portrayed his impact on the field for the Jaguars.
In the fourth quarter, on fourth down and at the Titans’ one-yard line, Trevor Lawrence attempted a leap over the offensive line for a touchdown. But, he came up short. Luke Fortner went backward on that sneak attempt, negating any leverage that could’ve been created.
Amongst centers who played 50% of the snaps, Luke Fortner was graded as the worst run-blocking center by PFF by a wide margin. The next closest player is more than 10 points better than Fortner. This stark difference drastically affected the run game, and the sneak in the Jaguars’ season finale showcased how that poor run blocking has affected the Jaguars’ run game. With more push from Fortner, Lawrence might’ve had the ability to score from the one and set the Jaguars up to tie the game late.
It wasn’t entirely Trevor Lawrence’s fault the Jaguars’ season finale resulted in heartbreak, but Lawrence was a big factor in the Jaguars’ overall late-season collapse. Lawrence wasn’t bad in the Jaguars’ season finale, but he had multiple crucial misses, whether it was the sneak that came up short or the deep shot that he over-threw, Lawrence was at least partially responsible for multiple of the Jaguars’ shortcomings in the Jaguars’ season finale.
With a drive going in the second quarter, Lawrence air-mailed a pass over Zay Jones for an easy interception for the Titans. While it happened early enough to bounce back from, Lawrence continued to make small mistakes here and there, leading to the eventual one-score loss to the Titans. When the quarterback struggles as much as Lawrence did, it’s hard for any team to win, especially when the quarterback isn’t getting adequate help from the defense and offensive line.
Lawrence earned a bomb in part due to the mistakes he was making in the Jaguars’ season finale, but also because of how those mistakes accumulated throughout the season and the game. With each turnover or missed throw, the Jaguars’ season finale began to unravel. The entire season was marred with mistakes from both sides of the ball, much more than most supposedly winning teams had. Going 1-5 down the stretch is an indication of poor play and coaching. While Lawrence isn’t solely to blame, the collapse couldn’t have been done without him.
Jaguars’ Season Finale: Final Thoughts
It’s frustrating. That’s the best way to describe the Jaguars 2023 season. Not just the season as a whole, but the Jaguars’ season finale was frustrating. Multiple opportunities squandered by the Jaguars’ ineptitude is a theme for the Jaguars in 2023. When that’s a common occurrence, a lot needs to change heading into the 2024 season. Whether it’s a changed coaching staff or an addition of elite talent on both sides of the ball, the Jaguars desperately need changes heading into 2024.
The Jaguars’ season finale was an encapsulation of the Jaguars 2023 season, with mental errors and self-inflicted wounds causing the Jaguars to fall on their face. There’s room for improvement, and an opportunity to learn. But, with the second contract of Trevor Lawrence approaching, the window is slowly shrinking to compete with a lot of the high-level teams in the NFL. The ceiling is at the top of the league, but the floor is near the bottom. No team is quite like the Jaguars, where any game could go any way.
A lot needs to change going forward, and the offseason will be busy for the Jaguars. But, with a young team trying to find their footing, the Jaguars have an opportunity to make some drastic changes for the better. The only hope is the on-field tendency to waste opportunities doesn’t spread to the front office off the field.