JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars' victory over the Indianapolis Colts and look forward to what lies ahead after this week's bye
1.Reviewing the preview. When previewing Jaguars-Colts, the thought here was the Jaguars needed: to open up the passing offense, to stop the run and to overwhelm the Colts' offensive line. The Jaguars did two of the three with remarkable effectiveness – and as a result didn't have to worry much about stopping the run. With running back Leonard Fournette (ankle) out, the Jaguars correctly believed the Colts' defense still would stack the box against the NFL's No. 1-ranked running offense. The Jaguars countered that by allowing quarterback Blake Bortles to throw; he responded with 282 first-half passing yards, hitting three passes of 45 yards or more before halftime. A 20-0 halftime lead prevented Indianapolis from running much in the second half. How overwhelming was the Jaguars' defensive line Sunday? The Jaguars tied the franchise record with 10 sacks, a record originally set in Week 1 of this season. That's overwhelming.
2.As I saw it. This was perhaps the Jaguars' best performance of the season, with one reason being that it came without Fournette. The Jaguars finished with 188 yards rushing, proving that the run offense and offense overall isn't entirely dependent on the talented rookie. That's important for this team moving forward. Another reason Sunday was impressive was the totality of the defensive effort. The Jaguars not only had 10 sacks on Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, they had 20 quarterback hurries and eight more tackles for loss. When the Jaguars took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, it felt as if the game was over. The game was indeed over, and the defense feels increasingly like it can be relied on for game-closing dominance on a weekly basis.
3.Looking ahead, briefly. The Jaguars' task now is obvious: break the win-one, lose-one pattern of the first seven games and put together consecutive victories. If the Jaguars can do that, they can take control of the division and set themselves up for a late-November/December playoff push. A good sign on this front may have come during the post-game locker room Sunday. The Jaguars had just won by 20 or more points for a fourth time in seven games. But instead of celebratory feel after Week 1 and Week 3 victories, the talk Sunday afternoon turned immediately to what the team needed to do begin stringing together victories. This team wants bigger things than hovering around .500. How it performs in the first few games after the bye could go a long way toward determining if it will get what it wants.
1.Reviewing the preview. I didn't think the Colts were good enough to beat the Jaguars even without Fournette. Their offensive line is in shambles, Frank Gore is a 13-year running back – and 13-year running backs don't scare me – plus Andrew Luck was on the shelf. That made this game a perfect scenario for the Jaguars to attack quarterback Jacoby Brissett, take their shots down the field and grind the meat with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. By now you know that's exactly what happened – and at a much greater level of performance than anyone could have expected. Ten sacks for a second time this season? One hundred twenty-two yards from a running back that was active for the first time all season? Three hundred thirty yards from a quarterback who didn't look capable of that against the Rams? When I look at games I don't simply look at the quarterback; I look at the entire roster. From what I saw in Indianapolis Sunday, it doesn't look like the formula for beating the Colts is going to get more complicated any time soon. In fact, while the score might have been different, Indy wasn't winning on Sunday even if they had Andrew Luck. The Jaguars are the better team – much better.
2.As I saw it.Bortles responded to the challenge. He knows the coaching staff has been conservative with him, not wanting the kind of game-changing mistakes that have plagued him throughout his career. No doubt he has enjoyed the Jags' 4-3 start; it's the best they've played since he joined the team. But it has had to grate on him that in a league where the quarterback is 'The Man,' the running back is the man in in Jacksonville. On Sunday – without Fournette – Bortles flashed the courage in the pocket, the patience, the vision and the arm strength that made David Caldwell take him with the third pick in the 2014 draft. A bomb to Keelan Cole, crossing routes to Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee and a beautiful lob to Marcedes Lewis for a touchdown showcased a quarterback who can get the job done and who clearly wants to get the job done. He'll do whatever they ask him, he's a good teammate, but the competitor in him wants to be 'The Man.' That's a very good sign for the Jaguars going into the critical month of November.
3.Looking ahead, briefly.This is a week for guys to get some rest, but also for guys to work and get healthy. The loss of Allen Robinson in Week One has slowed the offensive progress but other than that, this team is remarkably healthy. Fournette should be back and ready to go for the Bengals a week from Sunday; left tackle Cam Robinson could be. Center Brandon Linder has been down for almost a month and we'll find out next week if he's ready to practice. But other than Robinson, this team has not lost a critical player to a season-ending injury. So, yes: by all means get some rest, but also use the time to listen to strength and conditioning guru Tom Myslinski and recover at the same time.