Jaguars vs. Browns quick takes: Trevor Lawrence moves the team well in three possessions

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Jaguars tight end Evan Engram (17) goes into the end zone after catching a pass from Trevor Lawrence (16) during the second quarter of Friday's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
Jaguars tight end Evan Engram (17) goes into the end zone after catching a pass from Trevor Lawrence (16) during the second quarter of Friday's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.

Trevor Lawrence put points on the board and produced chunk plays, the first defense got a turnover and the kickers found the middle of the uprights on field-goal attempts and the end zone on kickoffs.

All in all, not a bad night for the Jaguars starters in their second preseason game on Friday against the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field, at least in the first quarter.

The second and third teams clearly have work to do and the Jaguars will be spending the next month trying to build roster depth at the back end – and perhaps praying few if any starters get hurt.

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Lawrence threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Engram on his final play of the night, cornerback Shaquill Griffin set up a field goal with a fumble recovery that his old St. Petersburg running mate Rayshawn Jenkins and rookie Travon Walker set up with a hit on the Browns’ D’Ernest Johnson and Elliott Fry and Ryan Santoso kept the kicking battle alive in the Jaguars’ 24-13 loss.

The team announced 54,789 tickets distributed.

Here are the quick takes on the Jags’ second preseason game:

Offense

Lawrence had a shaky first two series, completing 2 of 8 passes. But the first play of the game was a 32-yard connection to Zay Jones and he gained 11 yards on a designed quarterback run.

"I felt great that we had that plan and the first play of the game, obviously taking the shot, you want to execute it, get some momentum there," Lawrence said. "Get on the ball and get them on their heels right away."

Jones was asked if he was feeling more of a connection with Lawrence in recent training camps practices and the game.

"Well, he invited me to lunch today," Jones said with a smile. "Yeah, sure ... I think so. He's a very easy person to talk to. He's laid back, he's chill and you can literally ask him anything. For the most part, I feel like he's an honest person and he's going to tell you the truth. Tell me if you don't like the route ... and he does a good job."

Travis Etienne (nine carries, 23 yards) has a 12-yard gain on the first possession but dropped a third-and-goal pass from the 4, forcing the Jaguars to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Elliott Fry.

Santoso added a 38-yard field goal following Griffin’s fumble recovery after the offense failed to move the ball. Lawrence sailed a couple of throws high and Laquon Treadwell joined Etienne in a dropped pass.

But Lawrence’s final possession was his best. He completed 4 of 4 passes for 53 yards and converted two third-downs with passes of 19 yards to Laquon Treadwell and 10 yards to Etienne. Lawrence then hit Engram in the flat after a play-fake on fourth-and-two from the 9 for the touchdown two plays into the second quarter.

Lawrence felt very good about the efficiency of the first offense, which had no penalties in the 25 snaps he took.

"That's the first step ... you can't shoot yourself in the foot," he said. "I thought coach [Doug Pederson] did a great job of getting the calls in and out of the huddle ... throughout camp we've done a good job of working that, guys getting to their spot quick and being able to light up and go."

Pederson said Lawrence delivered all he asked in his first snaps of game action.

"I think overall he played well," Pederson said. "It's good to see, a good throw-and-catch pace, some difficult throws. The touchdown to Evan was a good throw. I think this guy is very, very mature, handles a lot of things well ... doesn't get too high or too low, stays pretty even-keel. He's steady. Nothing is too big or too small for him and he handles it well."

Lawrence was 6 of 12 for 95 yards and used five receivers. He went against a Cleveland defense that started seven first-teamers, with one notable absence, edge rusher Myles Garrett.

Jawaan Taylor got the start at right tackle along with the rest of the first line. Walker Little played right and left tackle after that.

Second-team quarterback C.J. Beathard got his first action of the season but it was shaky to say the least. He was 4 of 7 for 34 yards in the second quarter and threw an interception that was returned 74 yards for a touchdown by rookie Martin Emerson Jr. The interception in and of itself was not really Beathard’s fault – intended receiver Jeff Cotton Jr., who had a good week of training camp, let Emerson out-wrestle him for the ball.

But Beathard missed tight end Dan Arnold wide-open over the middle for first-down yardage.

Third-team quarterback Jake Luton was largely ineffective, completing12 of 21 passes for 92 yards.

With the help of a 41-yard pass interference penalty on Cleveland's Herb Miller on Cotton to the 9, Luton did get one red-zone possession in the fourth period. But after an ineligible lineman downfield flag on tackle Nick Ford, Luton threw an interception in the end zone to Miller.

Tight end Luke Farrell also fumbled after a reception from Luton.

Defense

Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson, making his first start since the final game of the 2020 season, looked rusty, lost and tentative, completing 1 of 5 passes for 7 yards in three possessions. The Browns didn’t get a first down while Watson was playing and he fumbled one snap, with the ball popping up in the air right back to him.

Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin (26) celebrates a fumble recovery with outside linebacker Josh Allen (41) during the first quarter of Friday's preseason game at TIAA Bank Field against the Cleveland Browns.
Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin (26) celebrates a fumble recovery with outside linebacker Josh Allen (41) during the first quarter of Friday's preseason game at TIAA Bank Field against the Cleveland Browns.

The fumble recovery by Griffin was set up when Jenkins came off the right side on a run blitz and Walker met him just after Johnson got the handoff.

Cleveland had only 7 yards of offense against the Jaguars' first defense. However, it was a different story against the second unit as the Browns rookie Jerome Ford gained 48 yards in the second quarter and capped a 74-yard drive with a 3-yard score, going into the end zone untouched to begin the Browns’ comeback.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who spent 2019 on the Jaguars practice squad, completed 10 of 13 passes for 108 yards and had a passer rating of 126.4. He added a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ford in the third period.

Third-team quarterback Josh Rosen also was near-perfect, completing 6 of 7 passes for 56 yards.

The Jags’ second-team front seven gave up the bulk of the Raiders’ 159 yards rushing last week and a combined 169 total yards to Dobbs and Ford on Friday.

Tackling was lackluster for the most part in the second half but there was one big play in the fourth quarter when linebacker Tyrell Adams forced Ford to fumble after a pass reception, with the ball scooped up by linebacker Chappelle Russell.

"We've got to tackle better," Pederson said. "Some of these guys are fighting for roster spots and we don't want them to put any added pressure on themselves. But at the same time, when the plays come to them, we ask them to make the play."

Safety Daniel Thomas, who missed one tackle in the open field, said time is on the Jags' side, with a month to go before the first game.

"Take some wins and losses in the game and just to get better," he said. "There was a lot of good and some bad but get better and improve."

Linebacker Chad Muma also agreed that the defense needs to work on the basics when training camp resumes on Monday.

"It began with our leverage on tackles, then going from there and finishing the tackles, and not really getting those arm-tackles," he said. "We're going to really focus on that because I think it showed up everywhere tonight."

Special teams

Fry and Santoso split field-goal attempts and kickoffs in the first half. They each made one field-goal attempt and both got their kickoffs in the end zone.

Cleveland Browns cornerback Martin Emerson Jr., snatches a pass away from Jaguars wide receiver Jeff Cotton Jr., during the second quarter of Friday's preseason game at TIAA Bank Field. Emerson returned it 74 yards to give the Browns a 14-13 halftime lead.
Cleveland Browns cornerback Martin Emerson Jr., snatches a pass away from Jaguars wide receiver Jeff Cotton Jr., during the second quarter of Friday's preseason game at TIAA Bank Field. Emerson returned it 74 yards to give the Browns a 14-13 halftime lead.

The only kickoff returned was the first play of the game, and gunner Rudy Ford turned returner Ja’Marcus Bradley inside into the arms of Chad Muma for a 13-yard return.

Punter Logan Cooke averaged 44.3 yards on three kicks.

Injury report

Offensive tackle Will Richardson left the game with an ankle injury but it's not expected to be serious. Defensive end Arden Key also came out but Pederson also said it's nothing major.

Contact Garry Smits at gsmits@gannett.com

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Solid start: Trevor Lawrence leads Jags to three scores in three possessions