JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 17-16 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, Sunday …
1. The Jaguars are very much in it.The Jaguars were not dominant Sunday. In fact, they were far from it for three quarters. But through five games of the season they are very much in the AFC South race. With Houston beating the Colts Sunday, the Texans are 4-2 with Tennessee at 3-3 and Indianapolis at 2-4. The Jaguars are a game and a half out at 2-3 with five division games remaining. They're in it and they have to win to stay in it.
2. There's still a lot wrong.That's particularly true on offense. The Jaguars played well offensively in the fourth quarter Sunday. They won't win against better teams playing as they did in the first three.
3. The Jaguars can win on the road …The Jaguars won in London the past two seasons, but remember: those are home games – according to the NFL and according to the Jaguars. Remove London from the equation and the Jaguars' only road victory in their previous 17 games came in Baltimore last season. This team has six games remaining on the road this season; it's going to need to win there.
4. Brad Nortman is still good.The Jaguars' punter wasn't the team's most high-profile free-agent acquisition this past offseason, but he's up there with the most impactful.
5. … and they can win ugly … Well, there's no question Sunday fits the description …
6. … and they're resilient.The Jaguars weren't perfect offensively Sunday – and for three quarters they weren't even good. But they produced a 17-point fourth quarter with the season on the line – and the result was a huge victory. That sort of resilience matters.
7. The run game struggles are real again.It's not the statistics that are a concern here. It's the number of runs that never seem to have a chance. The line must improve creating space. It starts there.
8. The pass rush isn't "fixed."The pass rush that produced six sacks against Indianapolis the week before the bye struggled by comparison on Sunday. Rookie Leo Yannick Ngakoue registered his fourth consecutive game with a sack, but that was the Jaguars' lone sack on a day when Bears quarterback Bryan Hoyer often had too much time.
9. Jalen Ramsey's not perfect …Rookies aren't expected to be perfect, and Ramsey wasn't close to it in the first half Sunday. He shadowed Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and allowed six receptions for 90 yards.
10. … but he's resilient, too – and really good.What Ramsey did in the second half Sunday far outshone his first half. He held Jeffery to three yards on one reception and his near-interception on the Bears' final play was a big-time, elite-corner play. This guy's well on his way to elite. He's the real deal.
11. Blake Bortles has a lot of improving to do …Many things that have haunted Bortles – incomplete passes on very makeable throws, pocket awareness, turnovers – haunted him again Sunday. The first three quarters were a struggle offensively, and Bortles' struggles were a reason.
12. … but Bortles is starting to be clutch.Bortles has taken a lot of deserved criticism this season, but he has directed long drives at key fourth-quarter moments in the last two games. He had a bad sack/lost fumble early in the fourth quarter Sunday but responded with his best few series of the game after that. Those were winning moments.
13. Allen Hurns is really tough.Doesn't it seem we keep learning and learning this?
14. Paul Posluszny is ascending.OK, maybe this is an exaggeration for a 10-year veteran, but the Jaguars' middle linebacker is playing at a really high level. The Jaguars' defense looks more and more like a strength by the week, and Posluszny's consistency is a major reason.
15. Aaron Colvin's back.The third-year nickel was all over the field and making key tackles in his first game back from a season-opening suspension. The secondary already was playing well; Colvin's addition will only help.
16. Marqise Lee needs to be more involved.The third-year veteran has been healthy and reliable through five games. He also has shown more and more consistency on short and intermediate routes. It's time to continue getting him more involved.
17. The Jaguars are on a winning streak.They weren't pretty and they weren't confidence-inspiring, but the Jaguars have won their last two games – both away from EverBank Field. There's a long way to go, but they stayed alive. That's a start.