JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the day after the Jaguars' 51-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday
1.Big day on D.We begin this Day After Takeaways on the Jaguars' defense, a unit that shouldn't be overshadowed by a second consecutive impressive offensive performance. The second-half offense was impressive Sunday with touchdowns on the last five possessions, but as Head Coach Gus Bradley noted Monday, the defense kept the game close during a difficult offensive first half. The Colts drove into the red zone twice in the first half and a defense that entered the game 31st in red zone defense twice held Indianapolis to field goals. "That was big because offensively we were struggling a little bit," Bradley said. "It was good to see the defense stood up in those situations and kept the score within reach." The defense finished without allowing a touchdown for the first time this season, registering three sacks and two takeaways. Leo end Andre Branch also made perhaps the game's biggest play with a sack/forced fumble/recovery returned 49 yards for a first-half touchdown that cut Indianapolis' lead to 13-9. "Overall, the unit played really well," Bradley said. "Was it important? Yeah, because of the work they put in during the week. To see that come to fruition was good."
Take a look at some of the best images from the Jaguars Week-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
2.Permanent. … pretty much.Bradley didn't call Nick Marshall the permanent nickel back Monday, but he is going to get a chance. Marshall, a rookie free agent who played quarterback at Auburn before moving to cornerback in the NFL, played nickel Sunday over veterans Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray, with Gratz playing sparingly and McCray inactive. While Marshall allowed an early 57-yard pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, Bradley said he improved after that. "We saw good progress in him," Bradley said. "I think we felt last week, 'Just open it up again and take a good look at that.' He showed up in practice. We got him involved getting more reps with the first group last week and one-on-one sessions. We just felt he deserved that opportunity. I don't know if there's anything permanent, but he completed really well and he has earned his opportunity for another chance." Bradley spoke less strongly of Chris Smith, saying the second-year Leo end played "solid" in place of injured reserve Leo Ryan Davis. "You want him to come out and take advantage of the opportunity," Bradley said. "I'd like to … say he had a performance that was off the charts. I thought it was a solid performance. I don't think there was anything that jumped out."
3.Impressive debut. Marshall wasn't the only lineup change Sunday. With starter Paul Posluszny out with a hand injury, second-year veteran Jordan Tripp made his first NFL start at middle linebacker Sunday and registered four tackles. While Bradley said there were minor issues getting the defense lined up early, it was "for a very, very short period of time" and Tripp handled the position well. "I thought how he managed the huddle, how he directed traffic, how he took ownership of it and how he handled it – I just thought he did a really, really good job under the conditions he went into," Bradley said. "I think that he did a lot of things really well. I'm pleased with his first opportunity and I think he'll continue to grow from it." An update regarding Posluszny's status is expected Wednesday.
4.Response time.The difference in the Jaguars' offense from half to half Sunday was striking: five touchdowns in the second half after none on the first half, including three touchdown passes by quarterback Blake Bortles. That's a huge change from an offense that much of last season struggled to recover after turnovers, and Bradley on Monday said that's an area where the offense and Bortles have improved. "That was something, that quickly-recovered aspect, that we talk about with our players," Bradley said. "I know that in OTAs [in the offseason] and training camp that was something he [Bortles] really wanted to build on, so I've seen him progress through the season. There's a difference between being upset competitively and true bad body language. I think if there's any frustration on the field it's more of himself in a competitive aspect. I do like the direction he's going with that. I think the team feels him and they trust him and each game he builds that trust with him." Bortles completed 7 of 17 passes for 104 yards in the first half without a touchdown Sunday and was sacked three times with two fumbles. He completed nine of 13 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and was not sacked.
5.Response time.Jason Myers on Sunday missed his NFL-high seventh extra point this season, and he has missed four extra points in the last three games. "I can't argue the fact that obviously we wish he would have made the extra point," Bradley said. Still, Bradley said he likes enough about the rookie to continue giving him an opportunity. Myers on Sunday made six consecutive extra points after missing his first, and all nine kickoffs were touchbacks. "He probably had his best day kicking off," Bradley said. "We liked his leg strength, how he handled adversity so there's a lot of traits that we like in him." Myers has converted 23 of 27 field-goal opportunities this season, including 46-yarder early Sunday. "I look at how does a guy respond? How does he adjust?" Bradley said, adding of the extra points, "We really need to look at the whole operation: the snap, the hold, the kick and really pay particular attention to all of that. … We've got to remove this part from the game and I think there's enough things that we're seeing, that his leg strength and how he handled adversity is something that we're taking into consideration."