JACKSONVILLE – What We Learned from the Jaguars' 25-24 victory over the New York Giants at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
1.Winning is … fun.Wasn't it?
2.Blake Bortles has guts.Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said it best after the game, "The guy's a baller." The rookie quarterback wasn't perfect, but he was at his best on Sunday when it mattered most. Twice on the game-winning drive he turned second-and-long after offensive penalties into first downs. Bortles has struggled at times this season, but that game-ending drive was a good sign.
3.Bortles needs to work on fundamentals.This may not happen until the offseason, but Bortles is still missing passes he shouldn't miss. He improved fundamentals dramatically this past offseason. That likely will be a focus again in the coming offseason.
4.Bortles is stabilizing.It may not be dramatic improvement and Sunday's victory doesn't put him in the Pro Bowl. But after a rough start, Bortles has thrown just three interceptions in the last four games. He also had his first career come-from-behind victory Sunday. A lot more is needed, but it feels he's getting his feet under him a bit.
5.Luke Joeckel is struggling …The second-year offensive tackle was beaten for a second-half sack by Jason Pierre-Paul and also had a costly late holding penalty. That's not to say Joeckel, the 2013 No. 2 overall selection, is a bust. Not even close. There are areas where he's playing well, especially in the run game. But offensive tackles get noticed for high-profile errors, and Joeckel has had too many lately.
6. … and the rest of the offensive line is, too. The Jaguars allowed seven sacks and if the defense hadn't scored two touchdowns Sunday, then that would be the storyline. This is a young group, so it's not shocking it would have trouble with blitz pickup. But it's very difficult for the passing offense to come close to working when the quarterback is under as much duress as Bortles was Sunday.
7. Hey, Marqise Lee!The rookie second-round selection struggled for much of the first 10 games of the season. Some of it was injury; some of it was adapting to the NFL. But Lee has played better the last two weeks and the Jaguars don't win Sunday without Lee's big plays. He's progressing, and the Jaguars need him to keep doing that.
8.Sen'Derrick Marks should be in the Pro Bowl.It's a long shot, because he plays for a 2-10 team and the Jaguars' defense won't be ranked in the Top 10. But the veteran defensive tackle's two sacks Sunday gave him seven for the season. That's a big number for a defensive tackle, especially one whose team has trailed much of the season.
9.Sen'Derrick Marks should be in the Pro Bowl.This bears repeating. Marks is a defensive tackle with seven sacks and his team has trailed much of the season. When you're behind you have fewer pass-rushing opportunities. That makes the Jaguars' 37 sacks this season remarkable and makes Marks' number – especially coming from the interior – even more so.
10.The Jaguars' defense has heart.The Jaguars' defense had every reason to quit on Sunday. The team was 1-10 and the offense was showing few signs of scoring. Oh yeah, the score also was 21-0 late in the first half. All the defense did after that was sack Eli Manning four times, create three takeaways and score two defensive touchdowns. Teams that have quit don't do things like that.
11.Jedd Fisch has some creativity.Fisch has been under criticism from fans and observers lately. Such is life for an offensive coordinator. But the Jaguars on Sunday threw downfield, and were creative in the passing game – rolling Blake Bortles out at times and employing the Wildcat with Denard Robinson. There's a limit to what you can throw at a rookie quarterback with rookies all around the offense and a struggling offensive line, but credit Fisch for a few difference-making wrinkles on Sunday.
12.Aaron Colvin has potential.The rookie fourth-round selection missed the first 10 games of the season while rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament. During that time, you kept hearing that the former Oklahoma cornerback had big-time potential. In two games since his return, he's showing it. He played very well in his first game against the Colts last week. On Sunday, his scoop-and-score, 41-yard fumble return for a touchdown gave the Jaguars a 22-21 lead. The Jaguars need their young draft selections to develop. Colvin has a chance to do just that.
13.Josh Scobee is clutch.The veteran kicker hadn't had a game-winning field goal since 2010. That has a lot more to do with the team as a whole than Scobee's ability late in games. Scobee's 43-yard game-winner with 28 seconds remaining was straight and true, which historically speaking was really no surprise at all.
14.Winning is … fun.Wasn't it?