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What we learned: Jaguars 44, Ravens 7

Posted Sep 25, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 44-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 44-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday

1.The Jaguars are resilient. We learned many things about the Jaguars Sunday in many areas. But the  best sign for this team may be its resiliency. A one-sided loss such as the one sustained to Tennessee in Week 2 at EverBank Field might have caused a backslide in past seasons. Players to a man said after Sunday’s game this team felt different than past seasons, and that the Tennessee game caused no lack of confidence. Their performance Sunday supported those words. That resiliency could serve this team well.

2.Blake Bortles is capable of playing very well … We’d seen Bortles compile numbers before. But never have we seen the fourth-year veteran combine production with efficiency as he did Sunday. It’s no reach to say this was Bortles’ best caree game in multiple areas – decision-making, pocket presence, accuracy. He threw four touchdowns with no interceptions. He seemed poised from the start. He appeared to make good decisions about when to ground the ball – and when to run. This doesn’t mean he’s Hall-of-Fame bound, but perhaps it’s a step forward. And it’s certainly intriguing.

3. … and the Jaguars can win with Bortles … The Jaguars have won three of five games dating to last season, and Bortles has been interception-less in all three victories. He isn’t yet perfect, but the idea that the Jaguars can be competitive with Bortles seems less far-fetched than it did a month ago.

4…. and his escapablity does matter. Remember the preseason? When Head Coach Doug Marrone said Bortles’ ability to extend plays was a reason he was named the regular-season starter? We saw that in a big way twice in the second quarter Sunday, with Bortles scrambling to keep alive a play that resulted in an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Marqise Lee that kept the Jaguars in field-goal range and scrambling again for a seven-yard run that kept a drive alive that led to a touchdown. Backup Chad Henne probably doesn’t extend those plays, which means Bortles’ mobility was worth at least seven points Sunday.

5.Myles Jack is fast. Like … really fast.

6.The Jaguars’ speed at linebacker is impressive. Jack and linebacker Telvin Smith are two of the NFL’s fastest linebackers. That speed showed up on short passes to the Ravens running backs throughout Sunday’s game.

7.Leonard Fournette is really tough … I Tweeted on Sunday that Fournette would fall forward if hit by a truck. I’ll stand by that.

8. … and really good. Statistics don’t tell Fournette’s whole story Sunday. He rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries with three receptions for 21 yards. But his 80 yards all were tough, important yards. He creates yards where it seems there aren’t any. Defenses must account for him, and he brings a toughness that’s giving the Jaguars confidence and identity.

9.Marcedes Lewis can catch touchdown passes. The 12-year veteran tight end caught three touchdown passes Sunday. That’s a career high. Lewis long has been one of the NFL’s best blocking tight ends. With wide receiver Allen Robinson out for the season, the Jaguars needed a pass-receiving element from an unexpected source. Lewis provided it Sunday.

10.Dante Fowler Jr. is starting to make an impact. Two sacks in three games, a fumble return for a touchdown. The signs are starting to show.

11.London is an advantage for the Jaguars. The Jaguars have won their last three games in London after losing their first two. They’ve taken huge leads at Wembley each of the past three seasons – and they’ve played stretches of their best football early at Wembley in all three of those games. There’s something to it.

12.Jalen Ramsey is special … The Tennessee Titans threw at the Jaguars’ second-year cornerback once in Week 2. That appeared a wise decision Sunday. The Ravens challenged Ramsey more, and he was more than up to the task. He defended the deep pass well and his leaping, second-half interception … well, it was the sort of athleticism you expect from players selected in the top five of the NFL Draft.

13. ... really, really special. Let’s not brush over Ramsey’s interception. The break he made on the ball, and the athleticism and body control he showed to make the play, was above-the-Xs –and-Os stuff. Most players not only wouldn’t have been able to undercut the route as he did, they wouldn’t have thought to try to undercut the route. Ramsey’s not most players. We’re learning that by the week.

14.This defense might be legitimately good. The Jaguars have allowed no first-half touchdowns this season. They have forced eight takeaways. The defensive line has gotten consistent pressure in two of three games. The group dominated Week 1 with 10 sacks. It was strong for two and a half quarters in Week 2 before buckling late. On Sunday, it they didn’t allow the Ravens to cross midfield until the fourth quarter. That’s two-and-a-half dominant performances in three games. It’s early, but it has the feel of a trend.

 

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