CHICAGO – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 17-16 victory over the Chicago Bears Sunday
- This was one was difficult to define – and recovering would have been difficult had the Jaguars lost. Actually, it probably would have been impossible to recover had they lost. That's how poorly the Jaguars played for three quarters of a 17-16 victory over Chicago Sunday. It was difficult to explain why the Jaguars played so poorly offensively for three quarters. It was also difficult to explain why they couldn't function against a very beatable team – particularly considering the season-saving potential of a victory. But what was important Sunday wasn't how difficult the first three quarters were to explain. What was important was that the Jaguars rallied and pulled out a victory in the type of game they often have lost in recent seasons. Maybe this team is growing up. Maybe this is the start of something. We'll see.
- Jalen Ramsey deserves a lot of credit for Sunday. The rookie cornerback by any measure had the most difficult stretch of his five-game NFL career early, a stretch that would have dealt a significant blow to many players' confidence. Not only did the rookie recover, he made a game-clinching play at the end of the game. Ramsey spent the game matched one on one with Bears Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and the early results were six first-half receptions for Jeffery for 90 yards. Ramsey stayed matched up on Jeffrey in the second half. Jeffery's numbers in the third and fourth quarter? One reception for three yards. On the Bears' final offensive play, Ramsey cut in front of Jeffery on an in route and broke up the pass to end the game. Ramsey later said he should have had the interception. Maybe, but he already had shown the resiliency that seem destined to make him one of the NFL's elite cover corners sooner rather than later.
- As much credit as Ramsey deserves, Blake Bortles deserves just as much. Bortles, through four games this season, has been analyzed and criticized far more than at any time in his three-year NFL career. A lot of it was deserved, as his seven turnovers in the first three games were a big reason for the team's 0-3 start. Bortles struggled again through much of the first three quarters Sunday and seemed destined for another week of criticism. Then came the fourth quarter. Bortles lost a fumble when he was sacked by Willie Young early in the quarter, but he completed 10 of 13 passes for 138 yards and a 51-yard touchdown to Arrelious Benn after that. Bortles wasn't perfect Sunday and he must be more consistent, but this was a big fourth-quarter victory – and his play during that period gave the Jaguars a chance.
Sexton ... 1. You will no doubt read and hear tomorrow and this week about perseverance and that's true, but I am not sure it tells the whole story. From the moment Blake Bortles was intercepted in the end zone in the first quarter until Chris Ivory scored the Jags first touchdown in the fourth, the sideline was like a funeral. There was almost no energy and no enthusiasm and no one was having any fun. But when Ivory crossed the goal line it all changed and it never let up, even after the Bears went up 16-7 after Bortles late fumble. It says a lot about a young team that they were able to hang in it mentally even when it seemed they were out of it physically. I wondered how tough this team was mid-way through the third quarter, by mid-way through the fourth I had my answer. They're tough and now they have some real confidence in what they're doing and in each other. They missed late chances and lost to the Packers and Ravens...now they have one notch for their belt.
- Alshon Jeffrey will make almost $15 million this season. Early on he showed rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey all the reasons why he is the second highest paid player on the Bears. He made 6 catches for 90 yards in the first half and it didn't seem as if the uber-talented rookie was going to end up on the positive side of the story. Jeffrey though, made only 1 catch for 3 yards in the second half and as the Bears were trying to get close enough for a go-ahead field goal, Ramsey made the play of the game. He is a stud and today his ability to hang together when the going was tough paid incredible dividends when his teammates needed him most. In the locker room after the game he was strong, confident but not cocky in describing how he was able to learn from the Pro Bowl receiver and adjust his game. If it's possible I came away even more impressed than I already was with him.
- The London formula, where the Jags take care of the ball and get the ground game going, just isn't this teams' personality. When you have high octane fuel in your tank, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas, Marqise Lee and we can add Arrelious Benn can't we...you put your foot on the gas. I still believe this team is best when they can utilize Bortles best skills, his play action abilities, but when they spread it out and throw this team gets geeked up. The receivers and tight ends are much more intense and excited on the sidelines and they push one another hard, very hard when they know the game us in their hands. I may have to relent and say 'spread 'em out and throw.' I witnessed it first hand from the sidelines or I wouldn't have believed it but this teams' personality it to let it all hang out...not to get too conservative.