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View from the O-Zone: A-OK in the UK – again


LONDON – The U.K. was A-OK for the Jaguars yet again. Was it ever.

And boy, oh boy …

Did the Jaguars ever need that to be the case.

The Jaguars beat the Baltimore Ravens, 44-7, in stunningly one-sided fashion Sunday for the franchise's third consecutive victory at Wembley Stadium. We'll get to the whys and hows in a moment – and we'll get to the off-field element as well – but we'll start with what it meant on the field because that mattered for a young, developing team.

It meant the Jaguars are now 2-1.

It meant they're over .500 after three games for the first time in a long time – since 2007, which is too long a time. And no, the first three games haven't all been pretty.

But hey: Sunday was more than pretty. It was dominant.

"This was probably our best game of the year," cornerback A.J. Bouye said. "We need more games like this."

It was total. It served notice that this team can win the way it wants to win.

"I wish you could stand up here as a coach and say, 'I knew this was going to happen,''' Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "My experience is it's very tough to judge, I will say our players did a good job of being focused."

The focus remained through a major off-field element. During the pre-game National Anthem Sunday, Jaguars players, coaches, staff and Owner Shad Khan locked arms; some players also knelt with their arms locked. The locked arms and kneeling were a statement regarding President Donald Trump's comments Saturday regarding NFL players.

Marrone said he, players, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, Khan and General Manager David Caldwell all discussed the National Anthem actions at length Sunday morning. Marrone and several players talked about the level of communication and agreement between all parties – and the importance of those elements.

That's only a fraction off the off-field story, a story that undoubtedly will remain a discussion point. Players afterward talked emotionally of why they knelt. This was not statement made without thought and passion.

As far as on-field …

Well, as far as that goes, it's safe to say the Jaguars needed what happened Sunday to happen.

Yeah, you could definitely say that. You could even argue that perhaps they needed it more than a lot of 1-1 teams around the NFL needed a victory Sunday.

They needed it because a Week 2 loss at EverBank Field to Tennessee had been one-sided enough that many observers came away feeling that the Week 2 Jaguars were a realer version than the Week 1 version that routed the Texans in Houston.

History was another reason they needed it.

he Jaguars' recent history has been one of struggles and slides. Too often in recent seasons a loss such as the one to Tennessee turned into a loss the following week, then turned into one more loss – and another after that.

This Jaguars team isn't those Jaguars teams, and this isn't a team focused on the past. They said as much this past week – said that a dismal final quarter and a half against Tennessee would in in no way be a tone-setter. It's one thing to say something and another thing to do something.

The Jaguars did something in a big way Sunday.

They did it with their formula, a formula that they don't plan on changing. They ran well. They played dominant defense. They stopped the run. They pressured Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. They forced turnovers and took advantage of the turnovers they forced.

They did it, too, with things that weren't exactly formula. Bortles, after committing three turnovers a week ago, committed none Sunday. He also threw four touchdowns and made key plays with his legs. Bortles mattered in this victory. A lot.

Players said what mostly mattered on the field on Sunday was that a bad loss last week didn't turn into another bad loss. This didn't turn into a slide.

"We felt this was a must-win game," safety Barry Church said. "After a blowout loss last week, even a close loss this week would have felt like we were tumbling in the wrong direction. It was a must-win game. You saw it in all of our eyes and we came out here and dominated."

Yes, they dominated Sunday. And because they dominated, this team very much has a different feel than recent Jaguars team.

No, this is not a perfect team. Like most teams, it is somewhere between how good it has looked when winning and how rough it looked a week ago at the 'Bank.

But all of that means less than Sunday's big picture. The big picture was the Jaguars won. They're returning to Jacksonville above .500 and rightfully feeling good about where they are and where they are headed.

And it meant for a third consecutive season, the U.K. was A-OK. And boy oh boy …

Did the Jaguars – the first-place Jaguars -- ever need that to be the case.

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