MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The Jaguars won Sunday, and it felt good.
The Jaguars beat the Miami Dolphins, 17-7, at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday – doing it with a feel-good defensive performance and the feel-good return of quarterback Blake Bortles.
They smiled in the locker room afterward for many reasons. They were happy to have scored a defensive touchdown for the first time since Week 1, and happy to get a pass rush that forced mistakes. They were happy that Bortles quarterbacked a victory less than a month after losing his job.
They were happy because the defense played one of its best games of the season, and they were happy because winning Sunday showed what players have been saying since being eliminated from postseason contention early this month – that just because they have played poorly and lost in recent weeks doesn't mean they have quit.
Mostly, they smiled because they won. And winning is better than losing.
No, this didn't help the team's position for the 2019 NFL Draft. But that's not the focus of players and coaches. Nor should it be.
Besides, that's a story for another day. Sunday's story is the Jaguars won. And it felt good.
Let's get to it …
Mike from Atlanta, GA
I don't understand what happened at quarterback. Did you?
Yes. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone explained it after the game: he put Blake Bortles into the lineup in the third quarter because he believed it gave the Jaguars the best chance to win – in part because Bortles' mobility would help behind an offensive line that struggled to protect Cody Kessler and in part because Bortles could give the offense a lift running read-option plays. There was some confusion – and anger – among Jaguars fans and observers over the move because there's a perception that the team is tanking the season and that playing Bortles gave the Jaguars a better chance to win. Seen in that light, the move wouldn't make sense. But remember: coaches and players are trying to win – and Marrone is damned sure trying to win. He also reportedly gave Bortles some repetitions in practice last week – an indication that he knew Kessler was struggling enough in recent weeks that he might need to return to Bortles. It's not an ideal situation, and it has reached the point that it appears likely neither Bortles nor Kessler will return next season. But this isn't about next season. It's about winning now. And that's what the Jaguars did Sunday.
Jeremy from Wise, VA
Maybe it wasn't all Blake's fault, after all.
Of course, it wasn't, but he's the quarterback.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL
The Dolphins just scored seven. That's likely enough to win.
This was the much-anticipated, much-ballyhooed, rarely-coherent, oft-controversial First Email of the Game. It came after the Dolphins scored a way-too-easy touchdown on a way-too-easy first drive. Seven points, as it turned out, wasn't enough for the Dolphins to win. Go figure.
Bradley from Oceanside, CA
The best thing I read all year from a dude on Twitter, "You couldn't write a better script than this. Bortles comes in and costs them draft position."
Did you enjoy your second day on Twitter?
Daniel from Jersey City
O-man give them credit: our defense showed up today. Also, glad to see Bortles back giving us some momentum to finish the game. So, who do we start next week?
The Jaguars' defense with a few exceptions has shown up all season, though Sunday certainly was one of its better performances of the season. The "demise" of this defense has been dramatically overblown by people who don't understand that defenses in the modern NFL don't pitch shutouts every week – and that you need leads, momentum and an offense that can maintain possession when it needs to do so to win in the NFL. As for who will start at quarterback Sunday, Marrone wasn't ready to make that decision as of Sunday. We'll see.
TJ from Orlando
Howard from Homestead, FL
A glimpse of what could have been?
I supposed you could see the Jaguars' victory over the Dolphins that way, but we already knew how this team was designed to win. We knew it based on last season and we knew it based on what happened early this season.
Mac from Jacksonville Beach, FL
We can't even lose right. That's what happens when you put the BOAT in. Had we stuck with Kessler we would have easily lost.
NFL teams don't play to lose at the end of the season. I understand that fans, observers and media like to talk about teams tanking and playing for draft positioning, but it doesn't happen. The Jaguars hadn't done it earlier this month. And they didn't do it Sunday.
Rich from Neptune Beach, FL
Think outside the box. We have a ton of $$ invested in Bortles and we know he's not our quarterback. However, he's got size, athleticism, mobility, passion and toughness. Why not move him to tight end? He's a baller, our tight ends stink, save money, and keep a great teammate.
Please. Just. Stop.
Andrew from Matoon, IL
That win is for all of you weak fans who suggested the Jags had given up. Go Jags!