The 2022 NFL season is still young. We’re not even a quarter of the way through the season. However, after just three weeks there are a great number of storylines that no one saw coming before the season kicked off. For one, the Las Vegas Raiders are currently 0-3 with losses to the Titans, Cardinals, and Chargers. The Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles are currently the league’s only remaining unbeaten teams.
There are disappointments on the season so far, such as the Cincinnati Bengals who have started their season just 1-2. Joe Burrow started his season with a Week One performance that included five turnovers. However, among all the disappointments are also some very pleasant surprises. Among those surprises is a team that often sits among the NFL’s worst. Instead, the team that usually picks in the top five of the NFL draft looks like one of the league’s very best so far in 2022.
The Jacksonville Jaguars Are The Best Team In The NFL
Yes. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the best team in the NFL so far this season. It’s early, sure. Only three games have been played but the Jags have looked like the real deal. Jacksonville is currently 2-1 on the young season. They boast the second-best point differential in the entire NFL, at +46. Only Buffalo is better at +53.
However, Buffalo currently owns a -4.1 strength of schedule, according to Pro Football Reference. The Jaguars have wins over the Colts (who just defeated a Super Bowl contender in the Kansas City Chiefs) and Chargers. Both victories were dominant. The Jaguars defeated the Colts 24-0 in Week Two and followed that up with a resounding 38-10 trouncing of the Justin Herbert-led Chargers on the road.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are not just winning early; they look like they’re here to stay. So far, they are one of just four teams in the NFL with both a positive offensive EPA (expected points added) and a negative defensive EPA. This means both their offense and defense have played above average thus far.
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t just winning games. They’re downright dominating their competition on both sides of the football. On offense, they rank seventh in points scored, sixth in yards, first in turnovers lost, fifth in first downs gained, and first in scoring percentage (48.5%). On defense, they’re dominant as well.
The Jaguars rank sixth in points allowed, ninth in yards allowed, and first in takeaways. They’re allowing their opponents to score on just 18% of drives, ranking third in the NFL behind only Tampa Bay and San Francisco. It’s time to take these Jaguars seriously because they look like they’re here to stay.
After A Big Jaguars Offseason, It Seems Like A New Chapter For Lawrence
There’s no need to re-hash what happened in 2021 for the Jaguars under Urban Meyer. Jacksonville finished just 3-14 on the season and Trevor Lawrence’s rookie campaign was nothing short of a failure. He finished his season with just a 59.6% completion percentage, 3,641 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, and a league-high 17 interceptions.
The Jaguars brought in Doug Pederson as Meyer’s replacement this off-season. Pederson — a product of the Andy Reid coaching tree — was with the Chiefs for three seasons from 2013-2015 before he earned his first Head Coach position with the Eagles. Of course, he led those Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl title in 2017. However, 2020 would prove to be his last as the Head Coach in Philly.
He took 2021 off of coaching before landing the Jaguars’ vacant spot this off-season. Pederson is an offensive mind with extensive experience as an Offensive Coordinator (in Kansas City under Andy Reid) and as a Quarterbacks Coach (in Philadelphia under Andy Reid). This skill set seems to have suited Trevor Lawrence well so far.
Lawrence currently has a 69.4% completion percentage, 772 passing yards, six passing touchdowns, and just one interception in the young season. His Quarterback Rating ranks sixth in the league at 103.1. He’s also seventh in QBR (71.1), tenth in Net Yards per Attempt (6.70) and fifth in EPA/play (0.296).
Under his new head coach, Lawrence looks to be breaking out before our very eyes. This, after all, was the greatest quarterback prospect to enter the NFL Draft since at least Andrew Luck. In April 2021, CBS Sports called him the “greatest quarterback prospect of the last 40 years.” That potential is finally being realized down in Jacksonville and the league better watch out.
On Defense, The Jaguars Have Again Re-Found Potential That Was Lost
The renewal for a roster loaded with talent hasn’t just been on the offensive side of the football. The Jaguars have picked eight players in the first round since 2018 alone. In each of the last three drafts, they’ve come away with two first-round selections. Of those eight first-round picks since 2018, six have been on the defensive side of the ball.
Josh Allen, 2018’s first-round pick (seventh overall) for the Jaguars, is one of the faces making plays this season. He was the talk of trade rumors this offseason, with many media members of opposing teams mentioning him as a trade target. Instead, the Jaguars stuck with their man and he’s played well early. In just three games, he leads the team with two sacks, seven quarterback hits, and three tackles for loss.
Devin Lloyd, this year’s 24th overall selection, leads the Jaguars’ defense in tackles so far with 24 – as a rookie. He’s also added two interceptions. He’s an elite tackler and also an outstanding coverage linebacker downfield.
Second-year defensive backs Andre Cisco and Tyson Campbell are looking to have a bounceback sophomore campaign as well. Both have already gotten their first interceptions of the young season and rank within the top five on the team in tackles. This Jaguars defense ranks fifth in quarterback knockdowns, 12th in sacks, and 14th in missed tackles. Just a year ago, they ranked 20th in quarterback knockdowns, 27th in sacks, and 31st in missed tackles.
Are The Playoffs In Store For The Jaguars In A Weak AFC South Division?
The turnaround thus far for the Jaguars — on both sides of the football — should not go unnoticed. The job that Doug Pederson and his staff have done so far this season has been phenomenal. This roster is young. It’s also overflowing with high-ceiling potential and a young, franchise quarterback that looks primed to take the NFL by storm.
The rest of their division includes the struggling Titans, who look abysmal to start the season, the Texans, with a rebuilding roster, and the Colts, who already started their division slate with a 24-0 trouncing from these Jaguars. It’s a weak division ripe for the taking, and the Jaguars look poised to do so.
Beyond that, the AFC is loaded and the season is still young. The Chargers and Bills have each already suffered some injury trouble. The Chiefs look electric one week and then downright lethargic the next. Beyond that, the Ravens and Dolphins look like the next teams to watch in the AFC.
The next test for the Jaguars comes this Sunday against one of just two unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles. This Doug Pederson “revenge game” should be a great test for where the Jaguars truly stand. They’ll face off against the Chiefs on November 13 and the Ravens on November 27. By that point, we should have a much more firm idea of just how real these Jaguars are.