Here’s what we learned in the Jaguars’ 12-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens Monday.
Some of it’s good. Some of it’s bad. But here it is . . .
1)The defense is good. Last week we talked about the defense having heart. That was nice after a disappointing loss in Pittsburgh. This week, the Jaguars’ defense showed it really deserves to be mentioned among the league’s good defenses. No first downs in the first half? On nine possessions? That’s something you may not see again for a long, long time.
2)The national media still doesn’t respect the Jaguars. So, there was more talk criticizing the Ravens than praising the Jaguars from ESPN’s talking heads after Monday night’s game? I’m trying to think of something that matters less. The Jaguars won. They beat one of the NFL’s best teams. Win a few more and people will talk about it with more respect. Until then, bask in the moment.
3)Blaine Gabbert has work to do. We knew a rookie quarterback would take time to develop. His pocket presence and footwork were issues Monday. That’s the bad news. The good news is he’s young and those things will improve. The other good news is he made several throws that show you he’s got it. The best news? He didn’t do anything dumb to cost the Jaguars the game.
4)Dawan Landry was a good free-agent signing. And Paul Posluszny was, too.
5) And Drew Coleman, too. Said it before and I’ll say it again: a lot of teams get criticized for willy-nilly free-agency spending and a lot of teams don’t get better in free agency. The Jaguars made some of the league’s best moves in late July. I’m not a big free-agency proponent, but in this case, it worked. Jacksonville’s defense has the look of a unit that will be solid all season.
6) Marcedes Lewis is still struggling. As was the case three weeks ago, Lewis missed a pass in the end zone he should have caught. And as was the case three weeks ago, he’ll be the first to say he should have made the catch. It’s an area that has to improve.
7)Rashean Mathis isn’t all that bad. The guy takes criticism, but all season, coaches and personnel officials have said he’s been playing pretty good at corner for the Jaguars. On Monday, he did so again. Time to get off his back? Maybe? For a week?
8)Josh Scobee’s pretty good. Three field goals from 50 yards or more in one game? And in a game your team wins 12-7? That’s Pro Bowl-type stuff if he keeps it up.
9) The Jaguars have heart. It would have been easy to not play well or hard Monday. Most prognosticators picked the Ravens and had the Jaguars lost 24-14, few outside Jacksonville would have criticized the effort. A lot of 1-5 teams don’t play hard and the match-up against the Ravens was one that appeared very difficult. Credit the Jaguars for showing up and playing their best game of the season.
10)Daryl Smith is pretty good, too. If it seemed he was all over the field Monday, he was. He had six tackles, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and an 11-yard sack. He also forced a fumble. Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said after the game he has been saying for some time Smith is a very, very good player. He has been right for a long time, and Smith on Monday was a critical factor in a critical victory.