INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
1.The Jaguars can play offense without Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars didn't just survive offensively in their first game this season without their rookie running back; they thrived. Credit quarterback Blake Bortles with one of the better starts of his four-year career; he was efficient on two early touchdown drives, and his five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead with 5:01 remaining in the first quarter. Credit offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett for letting Bortles take advantage of an eight-in-the-box approach from the Colts' defense early. Bortles' 52-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole took advantage of that bunched-up defensive formation and set up Lewis' touchdown. The Jaguars moved 75, 70, 67 and 66 yards on their first four possessions. There was a legitimate worry before the game about the Jaguars' offense without Fournette, who leads the team with 596 yards rushing in six games. The Jaguars for at least a week put that worry to rest.
2.More on that Blake Bortles credit thing …Quick thought No. 1 had a sentence or two about Bortles, but his performance Sunday merited more than that. Bortles, the Jaguars' fourth-year quarterback, has been under criticism and scrutiny all season – and a lot of that criticism and scrutiny has been warranted. But Bortles on Sunday had a legitimately good game in legitimately difficult circumstance. The Jaguars' offense had depended on Fournette in the first six games to a phenomenal degree. Those wondering if the offense could function without him were right to wonder that. Bortles not only had a big day statistically, he passed the eye test. He threw downfield. He looked poised in the pocket. He played particularly well early with the game in doubt. If Bortles is going to be criticized when he struggles it's only fair that he be praised when he plays well. He played very well Sunday and was very deserving of that praise.
Images from the Jaguars week 7 game against the Colts.
3.The Jaguars' defense is dominant when the opponent must pass.* *If there's one thing we've learned through seven games, this may be it. The Jaguars on Sunday took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and the game felt over. That's because the Jaguars' defense rushes the passer very well and has the speed/coverage ability to turn that pressure into turnovers and points. The Jaguars tied a franchise record with 10 sacks Sunday, and a lot of that was because of lockdown coverage. The Jaguars led 20-0 at halftime, which marked the fifth time in seven games they have not allowed a first-half touchdown. It was also their third first-half shut out. The Colts caused a little worry early when they got loose on some cutback runs, but the Jaguars' forced them to be pass-heavy the rest of the game. That plays into the Jaguars' hands, and it did so again Sunday.
1. The Jaguars roster isn't perfect but through 7 games it is good enough to win in the AFC South if they don't beat themselves with penalties and turnovers. They played without their starting center, left tackle and star rookie running back and shut out the Colts. That's saying something about the quality of their depth.
2. The Jags tied a franchise record with 10 sacks on Sunday. That's impressive no matter who gets how many but when you see 7 guys contributing it's doubly so. The matchup with a beat-up Colts offensive line was certainly to their favor but 10 sacks and holding the Colts to only 96 rushing yards says A LOT about the mentality as well as the ability. This group knew all day long that they were better and they challenged each other in a way that I have not seen in 23 seasons in Jacksonville. They're good and they think they can be great...33 sacks in 7 games certainly backs them up.
3. That's a huge win to stay in 1st place in the AFC South headed into the bye and the Bengals and Chargers up immediately following.