JACKSONVILLE – They won. Finally, and at last.
The Jaguars beat the Indianapolis Colts, 6-0, at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. It was a game that played out a lot like the score would indicate.
The defensive was historically good, the offense struggled despite changes at coordinator and quarterback – and for one day, that combination was enough to give the home team its first good post-game feeling in two months.
Heroes were easy to find defensively. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, end Yannick Ngakoue, end Calais Campbell, cornerback D.J. Hayden, safety Ronnie Harrison, linebacker Myles Jack, linebacker Telvin Smith …
Offensively? Well, offensively this was more of the same even with Cody Kessler starting at quarterback for the Jaguars for the first time and Scott Milanovich calling plays for the Jaguars for the first time.
But there's time to pick apart what was and wasn't right offensively. For now, the Jaguars won. That meant could smile Sunday evening for the first time in a long time.
The seven-game losing streak is over. Finally, and at last.
Let's get to it …
David from Maplewood, NJ
John: I love winning; it's like better than losing. The defense was spectacular, but would it be fair to say if the defense played at anywhere close to this level a bit more often the team would not be basically playing for pride? Why would it take essentially being out of it to find your best performance? Whatever I still like winning.
No, your question's not fair because it implies somehow the Jaguars' season is lost because the defense didn't play all season as it did Sunday. The Jaguars' defense played phenomenally well Sunday. They shut out a team that was scoring 33.1 points a game in its last eight games. They shut out a quarterback who had thrown at least three touchdown passes in eight consecutive games. They got some breaks to do it because the Colts could have – and probably should have – kicked at least a couple of field goals in the first half, but the point is they did it. But you don't shut out offenses every week in the NFL these days. The Jaguars' defense hasn't been bad this season. It actually has been far better than its many critics have realized, and it has been hurt dramatically by rarely playing with a lead; its demise has been greatly exaggerated. The defense was as good Sunday as it has been this season – maybe ever. But it has been good enough much of the season for the Jaguars' record to be much better than 4-8.
Logan from Wichita, KS
Cornerback D.J. Hayden when healthy has been really good. Glad to see our secondary playing well still.
This was the much-ballyhooed, always-entertaining, oft-controversial First Email of the Game. It was positive, which was odd having been written by Logan. I checked and re-checked, and finally decided it was legit. Who knew?
Pradeep from Bangalore, India
Hey John, if Head Coach Doug Marrone and Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin were closely watching this game then they should see no one performs better under center behind this offensive line.
Of course, they were watching closely. What else would they be doing?
Emiel from Texas
These refs are terrible.
Levi from Bloomington, IN
Holy check downs, Batman!!!
I got a lot of emails about how many check downs quarterback Kessler threw in his first Jaguars start Sunday. Kessler indeed threw a lot of check downs Sunday. And when I say he threw a lot of check downs, what I mean is he threwa lot of checkdowns.This approach made sense because the Jaguars were winning. It made sense because the Jaguars' offensive line was beat up entering the game. It made sense because the Jaguars were without running back Leonard Fournette Sunday. It also was the first game for Kessler working with Milanovich, whose first game calling plays came in a very tough situation considering the injuries and Fournette's absence. The goal was to win. The Jaguars won. They can worry about throwing the ball downfield and getting more creative as they move forward – and it stands to reason there will be an emphasis on both in the final four games.
JT from Fort Worth
All these fans begging for the backup. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, the injuries are the reason why our offense looks so bad? But what do I know?
The Jaguars' offense indeed looked a lot on Sunday with Kessler as it did in recent weeks with Bortles. And yeah, the injuries offensively probably have a lot to do with it. Football's funny that way. When lose most of your offensive line and your top receiver, tight end and running back, it matters.
Big on Blake from Philly
This is going to sound ridiculous, but how much say did the defensive players have in getting a new offensive coordinator and quarterback? This defense played extremely well Sunday. Did the conversation go from the defense to Coach Marrone "new quarterback or we sit" or was it more like Coach Marrone to the defense "I fired Hackett; you're all on notice"?
At least you began your question on point. I got a tonof emails along these lines, saying that the defense played better and more inspired because Bortles was no longer the quarterback. C'mon, people … really?