CINCINNATI (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are desperate for a win. The Cincinnati Bengals are learning how to be a winning team.
The Jaguars are 0-3 under first-year NFL coach Urban Meyer, who didn't lose much in 17 years as a college head coach.
The Bengals are 2-1 for the first time since 2018. Quarterback Joe Burrow is healthy and rediscovering the chemistry he had with receiver Ja'Marr Chase when they were teammates on LSU's 2019 national championship team.
The Bengals are confident coming off a 24-10 win over divisional rival Pittsburgh last Sunday.
“You continue to build the culture and build the winning culture,” Burrow said. “And we’re starting to understand how to win. On offense, we’ve got to get better at putting the dagger in them when we have them on the ropes. We can finish better.”
Meyer, who coached Ohio State for seven seasons and won a national championship in 2014, returns to Ohio for the first time as an NFL coach when the Jaguars visit Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium for a Thursday night matchup.
Meyer said the Jaguars are getting closer to playing a complete game. They were leading late in the third quarter Sunday before losing 31-19 to Arizona.
“First game, nothing,” Meyer lamented. "Second game, we made it through a half that we were playing pretty well. Third game, we’re getting (there). I’m looking for constant improvement. I’m looking for loyalty and faith in the locker room, which I have. That’s never wavered. I’m not taking anything away from the Cardinals, we played well enough and (if) we don’t make some mistakes, we could’ve won that game.”
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin agreed. The Jags must learn how to finish.
“You know, so many things that we did special out there that we can build off of going into the rest of this season, and we needed that — we really needed that,” Griffin said. “We all know there are things we still have to work on. That is why we have this long season. We are going to go back to the drawing board and we have a quick turnaround, so we will do whatever takes.”
Jacksonville is trying to avoid losing its 19th consecutive game.
This game will mark the second time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback chosen No. 1 overall (Trevor Lawrence) faces a quarterback who was chosen No. 1 overall the previous year (Burrow). The only other instance came in 2019, when rookie Kyler Murray of Arizona bested Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.
Rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase, the Bengals top draft pick, got a deserved reputation for dropping passes in the preseason. He's put that issue behind him. He caught two touchdown passes last week, one of them a spectacular fingertip grab in the end zone. Actually, he's the only player in the Super Bowl era with a receiving TD of at least 30 yards in each of his first three games. He has 11 catches, four of them for scores.
One of the unsung heroes of the Bengals win over the Steelers might have been Jackson Carman, the rookie from Clemson who started in place of injured veteran guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. Carman, who protected Lawrence's blind side for two years at Clemson, didn't allow a sack or hit on Burrow. Granted, some of Pittsburgh best pass rushers were out with injuries, but the Bengals' line looked much improved.
The Jaguars are retooling their secondary less than a month into the season. They traded cornerback CJ Henderson, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, to Carolina on Monday for tight end Dan Arnold. The deal also included a swap of draft picks. With Henderson gone, rookie Tyson Campbell will step into a starting spot opposite the veteran Griffin. And nickel cornerback Tre Herndon, who missed the first three games because of a sprained knee ligament, will make his 2021 debut against the Bengals.
Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL