LONDON – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' xx-xx the Indianapolis Colts at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday
- Yannick Ngakoue is becoming a force. The rookie defensive end has emerged as one of the most consistent players on the Jaguars' defense. He not only recorded his first career interception on Sunday – a play that led directly to the Jaguars' first-quarter touchdown – he later registered a seven-yard sack on Andrew Luck on a big-time inside move. That was Ngakoue's third sack in as many games after he registered sack/forced fumbles against San Diego and Baltimore in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. The third-round selection from Maryland is strikingly polished for a rookie pass rusher and along with cornerback gives the Jaguars two defensive rookies playing at a remarkably high level.
- Blake Bortles wasn't great Sunday, but he was better overall than the last two games. The Jaguars' third-year quarterback was effective outside the pocket and his decisiveness running when under pressure helped the Jaguars' offense as it became more efficient in the second and third quarters. Bortles threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Blake Bortles and ran for a 1-yard second-quarter touchdown to give the Jaguars a 17-6 halftime lead. His 42-yard touchdown to Blake Bortles helped clinch a huge victory. Give Bortles credit for this much. He faced as much criticism and as many questions this past week as at any point in his NFL career and he responded with a gutsy, improved performance – with no interceptions.
3.The run matters after all. Observers' eyes rolled throughout the last several weeks when anyone associated with the Jaguars' offense spoke of the need to establish the run. The run got established on Sunday – and it set the tone for the entire offense. T.J. Yeldon ran effectively early and Chris Ivory showed why the team signed him as an unrestricted free agent from the New York Jets in the offseason. The Jaguars went over 100 yards rushing early in the third quarter, but the end-game rushing total didn't matter as much as the feeling you got from this offense. When it ran effectively Sunday it controlled the game and there was a feeling for the first time this season the Jaguars were dictating the flow of the game. Credit the Jaguars for knowing what was needed offensively – and credit the offensive line with its best running game of the season.
1. The defense came to play and when it mattered most they won the game. Luck did nothing until the 4th quarter, and then he did plenty, but the scrappy Jags came up with a 4th down stop as he tried to maneuver the Colts for a game-tying field goal or based on their momentum a go-ahead field goal. That it was CFL refugee Josh Johnson they targeted against tight end Dwayne Allen wasn't a surprise but that he made the kind of play Jalen Myrick made to seal the win against Buffalo in 2015 was not expected. Todd Wash's defense has a culture of accountability that I see every week on the sidelines... Johnson was accountable to his teammates at Wembley on Sunday. Overall they put up six sacks of Luck, a take-away the offense turned into a touchdown and TY Hilton never got going thanks to solid coverage by committee. The defense is talented and they're still essentially learning each other's names. If they stay healthy they're going to be very good by the time December rolls around.
- The defense got a lot of production from its youngest players. At one point I looked up to see Yannick Ngocque, Dante Fowler Jr. , Sheldon Day, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack all running to the ball. That's an incredible amount of talent, inexperienced talent that is getting better every week. At some point Jack and Ramsey are going to take over a game and that's not too far away. The way they chased and harassed Luck, Hilton and Gore all day signaled to the Colts that it's a new day, a highly contested, highly competitive new day in the AFC South.
- Blake Bortles wasn't perfect and at time he wasn't pretty but he was ready when the Jags needed him to be. His throw to Allen Hurns on 2nd and 8 was a dart, his most precise throw of the day and when they needed a surge of momentum to hold off Luck and the Colts. Hurns for the second consecutive year made the game clinching play in the fourth quarter but credit Bortles for shaking off a couple of lackluster throws on the previous drive to give Hurns a chance to make a play. Bortles has a lot of work to do but it was clear in the post-game that he had regained a measure of his confidence and that's a very important development for the Jaguars with plenty of football ahead of them.* *