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What we learned: Jaguars 27, Colts 0

Posted Oct 23, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 27-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 27-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday

 

1. The Jaguars are above .500 … They’ve been there before this season – three previous times, in fact. But we’re seven games into this thing – and now the Jaguars are above .500 through those seven games. That’s the first time that has happened since 2007. That’s significant, and it sends this team into the bye with a deserved good feeling.

2. … and they’re in first place. Well, how about that?

3. The Jaguars can win without Leonard Fournette. Many questioned whether the Jaguars could win without their rookie running back. That was understandable; he was that big a part of the offense through six games. They produced a season-high 518 yards Sunday. Point made.

4. They can run without Fournette, too. The Jaguars passed effectively Sunday, but as notable was that they ran well without Fournette. How well? They had 188 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries … so, yeah … pretty well.

5. T.J. Yeldon is still a capable runner. Yeldon, a second-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, had been inactive in the first six games of the season. Such is the Jaguars’ depth at running back. He rushed for 122 yards on nine carries Sunday, and his 58-yard third-quarter touchdown made it 27-0. Now, that’s depth.

6. The offensive line has depth, too. The strength of the Colts’ team entering the game was the defensive line. The Jaguars allowed one sack and had 188 yards rushing against that strength. Bad news on this front: rookie left tackle Cam Robinson’s first-quarter left ankle injury. Good news: Sunday’s performance came with Wells playing for Robinson and Tyler Shatley starting at center for Brandon Linder (illness). The offensive line was down two starters and still controlled the game. That’s a good sign.

7. Blake Bortles can take advantage of boxed defenses … That was a major question entering Sunday. The fourth-year quarterback answered in a big way. Bortles had one of the best games of his career Sunday, completing 18 of 26 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.

8. ... and he can do it taking deep shots. The Colts didn’t bunch the line in quite as extreme a fashion as the Rams did the previous week, but they did play eight in the box and left their cornerbacks man-to-man against the Jaguars’ wide receivers. Bortles beat the defense early and often, beginning with a second-drive, 52-yard deep pass to rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole. Bortles had five completions of 45 or more yards in the first half. His longest completion before Sunday had been 35 yards.

9. The Jaguars’ defense is consistent. Maybe it’s time to stop harping on this team’s inconsistency. Yes, the team has won in odd weeks and won in even, but the defense has been very good every week. It has three first-half shutouts this season. It leads the NFL in sacks. This defense is good. Consistently.

10. The secondary is big time. The secondary entered Sunday with the goal of shutting down Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Goal accomplished; Hilton finished Sunday with two receptions for 27 yards. But this was a big-time overall game from the secondary. No Colts receiver had more than 30 yards receiving, and many of the Jaguars’ franchise-record 10 sacks came when Jacoby Brissett had time to throw but no receivers open. Lost in the flurry of sacks: the Jaguars had seven passes defensed, including six by the back seven.

11. Calais Campbell should be a Most Valuable Player candidate. OK, this is a bit much, but has any NFL player had an impact so big? The unrestricted free agent has a career-high 10 sacks through seven games. Can you imagine this team being 4-3 without him?

12. When this team gets a lead, it’s very good. Sunday’s game felt over at 14-0 in the first quarter – and that feeling was right. The defense had some concerning moments early Sunday against the run, but once the Jaguars’ lead reached double digits the defense dominated. Again.

13. Yannick Ngakoue is getting better and better … This may have been the second-year defensive end’s best career game: 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and seven hurries. That’s game-long disruption on a level you usually don’t see.

14. … and so is Dante Fowler Jr. Fowler was active throughout Sunday, and had some significant pressure early when the game was in doubt. He finished with 1.5 sacks, two hurries and a tackle for loss. He also has 5.5 sacks, already an improvement over the four he had in his first season playing last season.

15. This team doesn’t need takeaways to win after all. How dominant was the Jaguars’ effort Sunday? They lost the giveaway-takeaway statistic 2-0 and still won by 27 points. That didn’t seem likely before the game.

16. The Jaguars are in first place and above .500 through seven games. It seemed worth mentioning again. It has been a while.

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