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What we learned

Posted Nov 14, 2011

A lot of good things in Indianapolis

Here’s what we learned in the Jaguars’ 17-3 victory over the Colts Sunday.

Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad, but here it is:

1)Jeremy Mincey matters to the defense. Very much. It’s time to realize Mincey’s production this season is no fluke – and time to realize how much he matters to the defense. He had 2.5 sacks Sunday and has 4.5 sacks for the season. He also has a team-high 24 quarterback pressures for the season. Not so long ago the Jaguars’ pass rush was a liability. It’s not anymore and Mincey is a big reason.

2)Paul Posluszny can catch. He had been very close to interceptions this season and hadn’t quite come up with the ball. On Sunday, he came up with one that ended the Colts’ last real chance to tie the game. Posluszny got a bad rap early this season as supposedly being weak in pass coverage. That’s not the case, and on Sunday, he proved that again.

3)Marcedes Lewis is still struggling. The reasons why are a mystery. It’s not a lack of effort or a lack of caring. Spend any time at all around Lewis and you know it’s not that. It’s certainly not a lack of ability, But he had one reception for minus-4 yards and dropped a catchable pass Sunday.  It’s a baffling situation, and one that still needs to get right.

4)Blaine Gabbert still needs to improve. We’ve said it before here and we’ll continue to say it: there’s a lot going on in the passing offense that’s not all on Gabbert. The receivers need to run better routes and they need to catch more consistently. But Gabbert also needs to do the little things a little more consistently. It’s a process that likely won’t be completed by the end of the season, but improvement needs to continue.

5)The Colts are struggling. This is a Jaguars column, but the Colts have been the biggest game on the schedule for years, so it’s worth noting: they’re struggling without quarterback Peyton Manning – even more so than you might have realistically expected. They’re winless and there are no other teams with fewer than two victories. It’s hard to imagine them not getting the No. 1 overall selection, something that seemed inconceivable last spring.

6)Maurice Jones-Drew is really good. We’ve said it after nearly every game this season, and you know what? We’ll probably keep saying it. He is averaging nearly 95 yards a game, and while that’s impressive enough, he’s doing it in the most difficult circumstances – against defenses that know the Jaguars have little choice but to run him early and often.

7)The receivers still need to make plays. They need to get open better as a group, and when they’re covered, they need to make plays on the ball. Gabbert’s still having to make too many perfect throws and everything just seems so difficult in the offense. The receivers doing a better job making plays in coverage would help that immeasurably.

8)Chastin West has earned more playing time. And Jarett Dillard may have done the same. West had three receptions for 39 yards and Dillard caught his first career NFL touchdown pass. Players earn playing time by making plays and Dillard and West seem to have done that Sunday.

9)Eugene Monroe is still playing well. This probably needs to stop being news, because he has played well most of the season. Still, because there has been a perception otherwise it’s worth noting that Monroe played against Dwight Freeney Sunday. The Colts are struggling, but Freeney is still a dangerous pass rusher and he was very silent Sunday.

10)Jones-Drew sure hasn’t quit. Really, despite being 2-6 at the bye, it was apparent Sunday no one on the Jaguars had given up. A play that stands out was the 3rd-and-12 in the second half when Jones-Drew took a screen pass, evaded a tackler and stretched along the sideline for a first down. It was an extra-effort, above-the-Xs-and-Os plays that required awareness, effort and talent. It’s what you expect from a franchise player, but it’s still worth nothing when you see it.

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