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What we learned: Jaguars 29, Texans 7

Posted Sep 11, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 29-7 victory over the Houston Texans Sunday in the 2017 regular-season opener


HOUSTON, Texas – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 29-7 victory over the Houston Texans Sunday in the 2017 regular-season opener

1.The Jaguars are in first place. It has been a while since we learned this, but the Jaguars are 1-0 through Week 1. The other three AFC South teams are 0-1. Well, what do you know? The Jaguars lead the division.

2.This Jaguars team might be physically tough. We say, “might be” because one game does not a tough team make. Still, the Jaguars stood toe to toe with the Texans Sunday and were more physical than a team that prides itself on defense and being able to run.

3.This Jaguars team might be mentally tough. We say, “might be” here, because one drive does not a mentally-tough team make. But the Jaguars’ response Sunday to adversity was impressive. The Texans drove for an early third-quarter touchdown to make it 19-7 and the Jaguars’ offense turned in its best drive of the game – a 75-yarder for a touchdown – on the ensuing series. That’s veteran stuff. It was impressive.

4.Allen Robinson’s injury is serious. Robinson, the Jaguars’ fourth-year wide receiver, made a first-down converting catch on the team’s first drive, then hopped toward the Jaguars’ sidelines. It looked bad immediately. The team announced following the game that Robinson had sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury. More details are expected Monday, but this doesn’t look good.

5.The Jaguars’ offensive line can play. This was a revelation to many observers who assumed based on preseason the Jaguars’ offensive line was a liability. The Jaguars’ offensive line did not allow a sack Sunday. The team rushed for 155 yards on 41 carries. The offensive line controlled the game. A liability? Not on Sunday.

6.No, really – the offensive line can play. Let’s not let No. 2 fade into oblivion without considering what it means. The Jaguars were playing a Texans defensive line that featured J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. That unit registered no sacks and didn’t affect Blake Bortles significantly. Raise your hand if you called that.

7.Leonard Fournette is good. The Jaguars’ rookie running back rushed for just 31 yards on nine preseason carries, which meant he didn’t play enough to give you real feel for how he would play in the NFL. Sunday gave a much better feel.

8.The offense is going to depend on Fournette. OK, this is a cheap way to talk about Fournette again. But why not? Fournette rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries Sunday. What was particularly impressive was Fournette’s ability to get the most from every run. He turned three-yard runs into five-yard runs and two-yard runs into four-yard runs. That doesn’t sound like much, but it improves down-and-distance situations and makes everything better offensively.

9.Jason MyersIt wasn’t all positive for the Jaguars Sunday. Myers, who steadied late in the preseason after struggling early, missed a 39-yard field goal and an extra point Sunday. The Jaguars tried out kickers during the preseason. This is an area to watch.

10.Blake Bortles can be efficient. This wasn’t Bortles’ most-dazzling game statistically, but that was OK. Head Coach Doug Marrone said he liked Bortles’ decision-making Sunday. And with reason. He didn’t throw an interception. He threw a touchdown. He didn’t give up a fumble. A good start for the quarterback.

11.Calais Campbell was a good free-agent signing. Ya think? Campbell signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Free agent signings don’t always make immediate impact. Campbell had a career-high and franchise-record four sacks, including 3.5 in the first half. It’s hard to have quicker impact than that.

12.Dante Fowler Jr. has wheels – and freakish talent. Fowler registered a sack – with his foot – and had a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown. It was fair to wonder what impact the third-year veteran might have this season. It could be significant. His Week 1 impact was real.

13.Yannick Ngakoue is the real deal … Ngakoue was impressive as a rookie last season with eight sacks. You got the feeling listening and talking to Ngakoue in the offseason that he wasn’t going to be satisfied with his rookie numbers. He not only registered two sacks Sunday, he forced a fumble on each sack. So, yeah … he wasn’t satisfied.

14. … and so is the Jaguars’ pass rush. We saved the best for last – and the Jaguars’ pass rush indeed was the best part of a good day Sunday. The Jaguars registered a franchise-record 10 sacks Sunday. Ten sacks? What?

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