Chiefs vs Jaguars: How improved is Jacksonville from last season?

We asked a Jaguars editor to tell us more about the state of the franchise heading into Week 2.
Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars
Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

For the second week in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs are facing a franchise on a clearly upward trajectory. Just like the Detroit Lions in Week 1, the Chiefs are facing a Jacksonville Jaguars team in Week 2 that has its fans feeling very, very good about their future fortunes.

Much of the credit for the turnaround in Jacksonville can be attributed to their luck of having Trevor Lawrence available when holding the first overall selection. It also helps that head coach Doug Pederson was around and available to provide a stabilizing influence and healthy organizational culture at a critical point. Last year, the Jags won a playoff game after finishing in last place in the AFC South for four consecutive seasons.

So just how much better will the Jaguars be this season? They'll find out a lot about themselves when they host the Chiefs on a visit to EverBank Stadium. But in our efforts to get a better pre-game understanding of the Jags, we asked Carlos Sanchez of our sister site Black and Teal to tell us more about the state of the franchise.

Last year brought the postseason win over the Chargers. After watching the gains and losses of the postseason, what were your expectations for the Jags in 2023?

The Jaguars kept most of last year's core together in the offseason, and there was no reason to think Trevor Lawrence was going to take a step back, especially after the arrival of Calvin Ridley. This is to say that Jacksonville was trying to build on last year's success. The question was whether they would be able to do so. It's just one game but the early signs are encouraging. They should have no trouble reaching the playoffs and if they keep playing well, they will have a shot at reaching the Conference championship.

If the Jaguars were going to take the leap to the next level in games against Super Bowl contenders, what has to happen on the offensive side? And on defense?

The Jaguars offense was working at full steam in Week 1, and can only get better. The biggest thing would be to stay healthy but that's true for most teams. Their biggest weakness in Week 1 was their ability to run the ball or lack thereof. Their interior offensive line and the right side had trouble opening lanes. Travis Etienne had a few long runs but that was due to sheer effort. They need to do a better job of clearing running lanes and tighten things up in pass protection.

On defense, Travon Walker and Josh Allen need to keep playing like they did in the opener. The duo had four sacks and eight total pressures. Allen accounted for three of those sacks and while it's unrealistic to expect him to log three sacks each game, he must keep causing disruption like he did versus the Colts. The secondary has enough talent and depth, so it's up to the defensive front to do their job. 

What is the state of the offensive line in Jacksonville? And how is the swap from Taylor to Harrison working out? 

I would call the O-Line a work in progress. As mentioned before, they had trouble opening lanes in the running game, especially on the right side. Right guard Brandon Scherff wasn't great last year and is dealing with a knee injury. He won't probably play against the Chiefs.

Regarding Harrison, he was fine in pass protection but the coaching staff was hesitant to run behind him. It's just one game though, and it think he'll make strides as the season progresses but he could be the weak line in the offensive trenches against the Chiefs. 

What are your own expectations for the game on Sunday? Any final predictions?

This one could go one way or another. The Chiefs' wide receiver corps didn't look great against the Lions but their passing game will get a boost if Travis Kelce does suit up. Kansas City will always have a chance as long as Patrick Mahomes is behind center. Also, the Jags went 0-2 against the Chiefs.

That said, both contests were at Arrowhard and this one will be at Everbank. Also, Josh Allen seems to be motivated and Travon Walker, a rookie last year, looks improved. If they can contain Mahomes and the Jaguars' O-Line can contain Chris Jones, I see this one going to the Jaguars.