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2022 NFL season, Week 16: What We Learned from Jaguars' win over Jets on Thursday night

Jacksonville Jaguars
2022 · 7-8-0
New York Jets
2022 · 7-8-0


  1. First-place Jaguars control their own playoff fate. With their win over the Jets, the Jaguars will be in first place and hold the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff picture if the Titans (with Malik Willis at QB) lose to the Texans on Saturday. At their Week 11 bye, the Jaguars were 3-7 -- and only one team, the 2020 Washington Football Team, started with that record and made the playoffs. The hay is not yet in the barn, of course, and the Jaguars still must face the Titans in Week 18. But all the momentum is building toward a feel-good ending to this season. It’s been said a million times, but Doug Pederson has been the perfect antidote to reseed the scorched earth left behind by Urban Meyer last season. If Pederson isn’t a top-three Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year candidate, what are we even doing with that award? Trevor Lawrence has looked mostly terrific this season, outside of some fumbling issues (including one early Thursday), and especially when you compare him to the quarterback drafted immediately after him in 2021.
  2. Zach Wilson booed mercilessly by Jets fans, benched by coaches. The Jets coaches had seen enough, and with just over three minutes left in the third quarter, they pulled the plug on Wilson. No, they didn’t bench Wilson for Mike White; he’s hurt. And not for Joe Flacco. But for CFL and NFL preseason legend Chris Streveler. The Jets actually started Streveler on Thursday -- at wide receiver -- in a funky personnel grouping and had a package of plays before taking over fully. Wilson was the quarterback to start, but he couldn’t even get through one offensive series before Jets fans booed him mercilessly. Every incomplete pass. Every penalty. Every punt. They were directed at the Jets offense as a whole in some cases, but the jeering felt so personally directed at Wilson -- to the point where you wonder whether the guy will take another snap this season. (Or ever?) As soon as the coaches made the switch, Jets fans cheered as loudly for Streveler as they booed Wilson. This is a fascinating situation that almost certainly will leak into the offseason with Wilson’s future with the club suddenly murky. 
  3. Evan Engram enjoys his best game at the stadium he called home once. As a first-round pick of the Giants in the 2017 NFL Draft, Engram was billed as a hyper-athletic, new-age tight end. It didn’t work out that way with the Giants, as Engram was plagued by dropped passes, especially in his final two seasons there. The Jaguars grabbed him on a one-year, prove-it type of deal, and boy, has he done exactly that. The drops haven’t disappeared completely, but Engram has been a big weapon for Lawrence lately, catching 26 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns in the past three games. He’s now reached career highs in catches and receiving yards, and his 113-yard game against the Jets was his highest yardage total ever at MetLife Stadium -- the place he called home for five years and 32 games (prior to Thursday).
  4. Jets’ QB situation puts even more pressure on Robert Saleh. Saleh came into this season with some pressure to perform after a 4-13 mark in Year 1, and he answered his critics during the Jets’ 7-4 start. Deftly navigating tough injuries and dealing with Wilson’s struggles only made that mark more impressive. But the Jets now have lost four straight, as the offense has hit the skids and the impressive defense has regressed a notch or two. It’s not as if the Jets hadn’t had hiccups on both sides of the ball prior to the losing streak, but they were finding ways to win. Now? Saleh’s hopes almost certainly rest on the shoulders of White, who was inactive Thursday and has not yet been cleared for contact after taking several big shots when he took over for Wilson. Perhaps Streveler, who gave the Jets a brief shot in the arm Thursday, is also in the mix. But this might be the flashpoint where Saleh’s Jets tenure could go either direction, up or down, from here on out. How he handles Wilson, White and this team in general this season -- even if the playoffs feel like a pipe dream -- could determine whether Saleh can sustain success. He can’t afford to lose the locker room, and seeing the body language of Garrett Wilson and others while Zach Wilson struggled again might be indicative of who other Jets players might support more at quarterback.
  5. Trevor Lawrence’s running ability highlighted in win. It was a skill that sometimes was overlooked during Lawrence’s brilliant college career, but the kid can move. He’s a graceful runner for someone who stands 6-foot-6, and multiple times Thursday he used his legs off-script to turn sacks into positive yards and punish a slightly undisciplined Jets defense. Lawrence ran seven times for 51 yards and a fourth-down TD sneak to give the Jaguars the lead for good early in the second quarter. The 51 yards were Lawrence’s second-highest total of his season (and career). Over his past seven games, he’s rushed 29 times for 191 yards and two scores, adding another dimension to an already diverse and -- dare we say -- dangerous offense. The Jets repeatedly were caught off guard when Lawrence went on the move, and it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see Pederson fold in a few more chances for his QB to take off in upcoming games.

Next Gen stat of the game: On the opening drive, Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams forced his third turnover by pressure (tied for fourth most in NFL) on a strip-sack of Trevor Lawrence. Williams leads all defensive tackles with a 14.7% pressure rate this season (min. 200 pass rushes).

NFL Research: On Thursday, Travis Etienne became the fifth player in Jaguars franchise history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a season. The others: Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, Leonard Fournette and James Robinson, whom the Jaguars traded to the Jets earlier this season (Robinson was inactive Thursday).

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