JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jordan from Jacksonville
That performance had shades of the 2017 defense. Complete dominance. I forgot how fun it is when you know anything is possible. I imagine that was the only week we'll see the D play that well, but goodness was it fun.
The Jaguars' defense during a 9-6 victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday indeed was dominant, and therefore had a 2017 feel. No doubt. And you're correct that it may not be realistic to match that every week moving forward. It's still fair to wonder if the secondary can cover consistently – and it's fair to wonder how the defense overall will match up with a balanced offense compared to how it fared against what on Sunday was a one-dimensional Bills offense. Still, while we're focused on fairness, remember: The Jaguars' defense played very well late in a 31-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks the week before, allowing 229 total yards. The unit followed that with an ultra-impressive performance Sunday. If we're being fair, it's fair to think this unit is improving – and unfair to say it can't continue playing well.
Name: William the Contemplator from Jax
Mr. O, slowly but surely players are coming out of the woodwork to help this team. This week it was Rudy Ford, who looked like a seasoned nickelback (the defensive back, not the band). There was even a Taven Bryan sighting, emerging from obscurity to add two sacks. It seems like maybe the coaches and players have finally found something, and not a minute too soon.
There was credit to be given in many areas around the Jaguars Sunday, and it indeed seems the Jaguars may have found something in safety Rudy Ford. He played nickel for the first time – and made plays while dropping in coverage and while rushing the passer; that's an impressive debut, and his speed in the secondary made a dramatic difference. As for Bryan, he indeed had perhaps the best game of his NFL career Sunday with two sacks. That certainly showed he deserved to be on this roster – and should serve as a reminder that just because a player doesn't fulfill draft potential doesn't mean he's a worthless player. I don't know that it means he suddenly will emerge as a core player. Have the players and coaches found something? Well, they're getting better – certainly defensively. It shows they're still working at this, and still fighting. That's a positive.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC
How do you think Trevor is coming along? Is there hope?
There is waaaaaay too much angst over this. Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence wasn't perfect Sunday and he in the long run must improve his accuracy. But he currently is playing with a wide-receiver corps struggling to get open – either downfield or on intermediate routes. He will be fine. He will be more than fine. Is there hope? He is the hope.
Andy Boy from Halifax
That is now SIX good quarters on defense. Any thoughts on our offensive improvement (or not)?
I don't expect major offensive improvement for the Jaguars this season. They have yet to score more than 23 points in a game, and getting into the low-to-mid-20s probably is about their ceiling most weeks. This does not point to preparation, or game-planning, or Lawrence, or tight end Dan Arnold or the offensive line. It points to there not being many dynamic playmakers among the team's skill-position players. It's difficult to "grind" and "fundamental" your way to breakout offensive performances in the NFL – and the Jaguars' personnel offensively is such that grinding is their best option. Running back James Robinson is really good. Arnold is playing well. The offensive line is solid. Lawrence is improving. I expect those areas will have good stretches that enable the Jaguars to score and stay in a lot of games in the final nine games. Is this offense going to consistently break out? Here's hoping that happens, but it will be difficult.
Sascha from Cologne, Germany
Hey, John. What was your impression on Walker Little? Was it a good game from him in your opinion? Is it possible that he now takes over as the starter?
I thought in rewatching the game that Little did OK in his first start at left tackle. He allowed some early pressures, but he appeared to hold up well playing against veteran pass rusher Jerry Hughes. I doubt he will take over as a starter for Cam Robinson in the short term.
Rob from San Antonio, TX
How much do you think the defense shifting into more zone coverage has helped on that side of the ball? Is it a long term move they'll stay with?
It has helped considerably, particularly Sunday. The Jaguars almost certainly will remain primarily a zone-based coverage team for the foreseeable future – at least through the rest of this season. Will that be the long-term approach? That will be determined when coaches/personnel officials examine the 2021 season next offseason.
JT from Palm Coast, FL
John, I understand that "technically" this is the biggest upset in Jags history, but come on now. I vividly remember that 1996 game in Denver. We had no shot. I remember a specific Denver media member talking hard trash about the Jags, the city and the fans of the city. Who the hell did we think we were? These upstart bums can't beat the mighty John Elway-led Broncos! They weren't going to prevent the team of destiny from moving on and winning a SB! Buuuut, the Jags did win and it was the most glorious feeling I have felt as a Jags fan. The only thing both games have in common for this Jags fan is... How in the hell did they win those games???? That '96 game was and still currently is the greatest Jaguars upset in team history and what happened on Sunday was fantastic and improbable, but that's it. Only thing that changes that narrative is this win somehow springboards this team into something special, but that's yet to be determined. We can't always fall for the prisoner of the moment. Sunday was fun though and that's what this is all about to begin with.
The Broncos game was glorious. And memorable. And historical. And it remains the biggest moment in franchise history. But the Jaguars had made the playoffs that season. They had won a playoff game. They had given fans reason to believe that maybe – just maybe – they could win. This Jaguars team had done little-to-nothing to make you believe Sunday was possible. Their lone victory in 22 games before that came on the final play against a struggling Miami team. The Bills are a Super Bowl favorite with a ton of reasons for being so. In my opinion, that made it the most improbable upset in franchise history.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, can you believe that some fans are finding things to complain about in our win over the Bills?
Sean from Jacksonville
Yes, it was an outstanding defensive display. Having said that, I still have a tempered outlook for the future. One great game does not a season make, especially if the offense continues to be inconsistent(?).
The Jaguars absolutely must do more than beat the Bills to have this be a successful season – and yes, if the offense continues to struggle to score touchdowns, it will be tough to win. The lack of playmakers is a real thing for this team. It showed up again Sunday. I expect it to be a thing the rest of the season. It will be a major focus in the offseason.
Kyle from Palm Harbor, FL
John, it looks like some of these defensive players finally decided they weren't happy with the current narrative for this franchise. It looks like they're not satisfied with the story of their own careers. It looks like a few players decided to write the story they want to read. This is how the culture can be changed. Can they give that effort every week? I guess it's up to them.
Mike from Atlanta, GA
Is Rudy Ford the answer in the back end? Playing him at nickel or whatever he's doing is yielding results. Whether he's playing nickel or a third safety doesn't matter so much. Whether it's blitzing, playing robber, or zone. I want to see more of it. Did they envision him in a versatile role, what took so long? Looks like the found the right way to use him.
You will see more of Ford in the role he played Sunday. His speed in the nickel was a factor. Sometimes it takes a while for a player to find his role, or to stand out enough to get a chance. Sunday was a good start for Ford. Really good. He earned the right for more opportunities. Cool story.
Crash from Westside
Most of the teams on the remaining Jaguars schedule are in your bottom 16. Might be a few more wins coming.