JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars are good. Maybe really good.
Of the many compelling storylines around the Jaguars' 23-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field Sunday, that's the one that shouldn't get lost.
Yes, the Jalen Ramsey-A.J. Green spat deservedly will draw headlines, and so will the Jaguars winning – again – without running back Leonard Fournette. Blake Bortles' latest big day deserves mention, as does a dominant, stifling defensive performance.
It all added up another one-sided victory, and that's what should be noted:
The Jaguars have won five games this season, and all five victories have been by 16 or more points. They are far closer to being 6-2 or 7-1 than they are to being under .500, and their defense appears to be getting better and gaining confidence by the week.
There's a long way to go in this – eight games of the regular season, to be exact. But the Jaguars on Sunday won again without their best offensive player (Fournette), and Ramsey was out the entire second half.
They still outgained the Bengals, 407-148. They still held the Bengals to 16 second-half yards. They still had a 26-8 first-down advantage.
The first half of the season doesn't put the Jaguars in the postseason, and neither does Sunday's game. But does Sunday's performance make it easier to envision the Jaguars getting to the postseason? Darned right it does.
Let's get to it …
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
O… I don't get the Ramsey ejection. Call me a homer, I guess, but A.J. Green had to go because of the throw down and punches. If Ramsey gets a flag for that push, fine, but that ejection was a bad call ... unless there were words or something we can't see on camera. Thoughts?
John: B... I agree. At issue: a late first-half altercation Sunday that resulted in both Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey being ejected. As I tweeted immediately after the incident, and as I wrote elsewhere on Jaguars.com after the game, I thought Green had to be ejected for his role in what became a lengthy scrum. He jumped on Ramsey from behind, took Ramsey down by the neck and punched him at least once. Ramsey did initiate the altercation with a two-handed shove. The two-handed shove in my view should have been a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, but not an ejection. That was my first reaction and remained my thought immediately after the game. Perhaps more will come out on what led to the incident, and perhaps my opinion will change. We'll see.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I was thinking about writing Bortles off. Is it too soon?
John: Bortles has had three best games of his career in the Jaguars' last six games. Is it too early to say he has changed his NFL quarterbacking future? Yes, it's too early for that. But it's equally true that it's too soon to say he's not going to be quarterbacking the Jaguars next season. This story has a ways to go before it plays out.
Frankie from London, UK:
Vontaze Burfict said Fournette could beat them but Blake couldn't … well Burfict was wrong.
John: Yes, he was.
Henry from Section 215:
Do refs get fined/penalties, etc., when they blow calls like today? Ejection of Ramsey in that situation should cost you your job in my opinion.
John: If the league determines it was the wrong call, the officials involved will get instructed that that's the case. But no one will get fired for this one Sunday – nor should they. It was a chaotic situation, and Ramsey did shove Green from behind. That should have been a penalty. Should Ramsey have been ejected? I don't believe so. Still, I understand why officials would rule the way they did because of the emotion of the moment – and because Ramsey could be ruled to have initiated the incident. It wasn't the correct ruling in my opinion, but it certainly wasn't fineable.
Bill from Jacksonville:
I hope potentially missing the playoffs is worth sending a message to our best offensive player.
John: This was the much-ballyhooed, much-anticipated, much-discussed First Email of the Game. It didn't age well.
Josh from Rochester, MN:
So this is what it looks like when all three phases play well. Great to see.
John: The Jaguars did play well in all three phases Sunday. That's rare in the NFL because teams rarely dominate all three areas of a game in professional football. There are too many good players and teams are too well-balanced for that to happen often. But it sure happened Sunday. The Jaguars' defense was as good as it has been all season – and that's a significant statement considering how well the defense has played at times this season. The Jaguars' offense proved once again it can run effectively with or without Fournette. Bortles played well – again. And the special teams turned in the game-clinching play with a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown by Jaydon Mickens. I'd say we may not see a more complete victory for this team for quite a while, but the way the Jaguars are playing right now …