The Seahawks host the Jaguars on Sunday looking to snap their first three-game losing streak since 2011, and are facing a Jacksonville squad that is feeling confident coming off of its first win of the season. To learn more about this week's opponent, we reached out to Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser, who answered five questions about the Jags.
Q: We'll start with the obvious, what has No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence brought to the franchise and how much has he changed the perception about the future of the team?
Oehser: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, has brought what a player selected there is supposed to bring – an "it" factor, a potential face of the franchise and hope for the future. The Jaguars in 27 seasons have had some very successful teams, but they never have had a franchise quarterback capable of being a core-foundation piece for a decade or more. Seahawks fans know well the importance of that – and Lawrence after a slow start has developed quickly enough in the last three games to make you believe he is destined to be really good. Perhaps great. He has uncommonly good pocket awareness and the ability to keep his eyes downfield under pressure. He is improving his decision-making each week and has a "wow" play once a week that shows why he was so highly regarded entering the draft. That sort of potential dramatically changes the perspective on the team's future. The Jaguars for the first time in a long time now have a player around which they can build.
Q: How big was getting that first win and ending the losing streak for the confidence of the team?
Oehser: It was big. Despite their 1-5 record, the Jaguars had improved steadily in Weeks 3-5 – but they had fallen short despite playing pretty well in losses to Arizona, Cincinnati and Tennessee. They broke through for Lawrence and Head Coach Urban Meyer's first NFL victory when kicker Matthew Wright converted a 53-yard field goal on the final play of a 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 6. The victory showed players that the improvement was more than just talk and that they were capable of winning in the NFL. Now, can they beat the better teams in the NFL and not just a struggling Miami team? That's the next question.
Q: Between the coaching staff and the roster, there are a lot of Seahawks connections down in Jacksonville. Coincidence or did Urban Meyer seek Seattle folks out intentionally?
Oehser: It's no coincidence. Meyer since taking the head coaching position in January has talked often of admiring Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll on many fronts – particularly Carroll's ability to build a strong culture. That has played heavily into bringing in so many ex-Seahawks players and coaches. The Seahawks have been one of the most consistent, well-run organizations in recent seasons. Meyer is comfortable bringing in people who have been around that.
Q: On a related note, what has Shaquill Griffin brough to the Jaguars secondary?
Oehser: This is absolutely a related note, because Griffin – who played with Seattle from 2017-2020 – has emerged quickly as a team leader and team spokesman since signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason. On a young team that has re-signed few veterans in recent seasons, Griffin's leadership and maturity has stood out. He also has played well in the secondary. While he has dropped three would-be interceptions, he has covered well – and has started in recent weeks shadowing the opponent's best receiver, something he said he didn't do previously in his NFL career. The Jaguars' secondary overall has struggled, but Griffin perhaps has been its best player and appears to have been a very good free-agent signing.
Q: What are a couple of the matchups you're most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?
Oehser: One has to be the Seahawks' wide receivers against the Jaguars' cornerbacks because that's always a matchup to watch when analyzing the Jaguars this season. While Griffin has played well, the Jaguars as a whole have had too many major breakdowns opposite Griffin and at the nickel position. Rookie Tyson Campbell is expected to return from a toe injury this week and could return to the starting lineup. Teams have tested Campbell a lot this season with some successful results. Another area to watch: an improved Seahawks run defense against the Jaguars' offensive line and running back James Robinson. A second-year veteran, Robinson – who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent rookie in the 2020 offseason – has been the most consistent player on the Jaguars' offense. If he's effective, the Jaguars' offense can be productive.
Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Jaguars as the two teams get ready to face off during Week 8 at Lumen Field.