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What we learned... Titans vs Jaguars

Posted Nov 26, 2012

Here's what we learned from the Jaguars' 24-19 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday...

1. The offense needed a change. Chad Henne has played a little more than seven quarters since taking over for injured Blaine Gabbert, and there’s no denying the difference has been pronounced. The Jaguars have scored 37 and 24 points since Henne entered the lineup – that after not scoring more than 23 in the first nine weeks. The Jaguars functioned offensively and looked like a competitive team Sunday, and those things needed to happen.

2. Henne does have a chance to be the guy. When Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said last week Henne had a chance to win the job on a somewhat permanent basis if he played well the last six games, eyebrows were raised. Well, two games do not win a guy a permanent job, but if Henne performs like this, it’s unfair not to give him a chance.

3. Cecil Shorts has a chance to be better than good. Three games, three receptions over 50 yards. He’s averaging 20.8 yards per reception this season. It’s probably time to stop being surprised when he makes a play.

4. Justin Blackmon isn’t busting anymore. Two weeks ago, many were ready to write the rookie off. Now, he leads all rookies in receiving yards. Young wide receivers can take a while to develop. Some take a few games; others take a few seasons. It appears it took Blackmon nine games.

5. Bryan Anger makes a difference. He punted five times for a 47-yard average Sunday and four of the punts were downed inside the 20. Two of those punts were the definition of flipping the field – a 62-yarder in the second quarter to the Titans 3 and a 65-yarder to the 18 that with a penalty pushed the Titans to their own 9. Maybe the Jaguars win without those plays, but they helped.

6. The pass protection can’t do that. The Jaguars entered the game having allowed 27 sacks, or 2.7 per  game. That’s not great, but it’s not terrible. On Sunday, the Titans brought a lot of extra pressure and did so effectively. The Jaguars allowed seven sacks, including three on their second drive of the game. Chad Henne held up well and the offense still produced, but if the Jaguars allow seven sacks anymore, that may not be true much longer.

7. The pass rush is still struggling. The Jaguars registered two sacks last week and one this week. For the season, they have 13. Part of the reason is they have trailed a lot, and it’s very tough to rush the quarterback when you’re behind, but 13 through 11 games... well, it’s not a good average.

8. A play or two here or there really does matter. Mike Mularkey preached all year about the difference for the Jaguars being a play or two at times. That’s hard to swallow at 2-9, but on Sunday, we saw a prime example. The Jaguars were struggling to stop the pass, and things looked bleak, and then linebacker Russell Allen tips a pass and Dwight Lowery intercepts – and then a whole lot that could have been wrong look awfully right.

9. The Jaguars can still run. The Jaguars hadn’t rushed for more than 100 yards since a Week 3 victory over the Colts. On Sunday, they ran for exactly 100 . . . and won. There’s nothing magical in that number, but the Jaguars – like any team – have to run effectively to be productive on offense. The Jaguars ran well enough on Sunday to keep third downs reasonable. That helped the team convert 7 of 14 third downs, and helped the offense as a whole.

10. Dwight Lowery helps. The free safety missed five games with an ankle injury. The pass defense still struggled at times Sunday, but his interception secured the game late. Titans quarterback Jake Locker completed 23 of 40 passes for 261 yards, but a turnover or two can negate a lot of good in the passing game. Lowery’s interception Sunday had that effect.

11. Paul Posluszny is still tough. Without or without the blood.

12. Winning feels good. Duh, but the Jaguars had gone a long, long time without a victory. And on Sunday, they got to enjoy it. They also have some momentum now for the first time in a long time, and while it didn’t come early enough to save the season, they still have a chance to change some conversations. That’s the task now.

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