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What we learned: Jaguars 17, Dolphins 7


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned in the Jaguars' 17-7 over the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Sunday

1. The Jaguars haven't quit …There were murmurings among observers throughout last week that the Jaguars wouldn't be motivated Sunday. Those murmurings became a roar after the Dolphins scored on an easy opening-game drive. Miami gained 105 yards after that opening possession and didn't score again. Consider the roar silenced. This team has heart. And it hasn't quit.

2. … and the defense is still good – really good.Yes, the Jaguars allowed a huge rushing game to running back Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans earlier this month. But the Jaguars' defense aside from that game has allowed zero, 16 and seven points in a victory over the Colts, a loss to Washington and a victory over the Dolphins. Is the Jaguars' defense as good as last season? Perhaps not. But it's good.

3. Calais Campbell is still very good …The veteran defensive end has a team-high nine sacks this season, with Sunday's victory over the Dolphins perhaps his best game of the season: a sack, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and a pressure on linebacker Telvin Smith's game-clinching pick-six.

4. … and he should be re-signed.The Jaguars have many salary-cap decisions to make in the offseason. Midway through the season, it was theorized that Campbell might not return because of his age (32) and high salary. It's time for a new theory.

5. The defense can score.The Jaguars' defense had seven defensive touchdowns last season. They went 13 games without a touchdown this season after linebacker Myles Jack's Week 1 interception return against the New York Giants. When Smith scored on a 33-yard interception return Sunday, it felt like '17 again.

6. Telvin Smith can still impact games.Smith hasn't had his best season this season, but he's still a very dangerous player when the opponent is trying to close a game. His interception Sunday was the ninth of his career and his interception return for a touchdown was the third of his career. He now trails only former middle linebacker Paul Posluszny for most interceptions for a Jaguars linebacker, and his three career interception returns for touchdowns tie him for the franchise record with former Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis.

7. The offensive struggles continue …Total yardage for the Jaguars in their last four games: 211, 255, 192 and 244. That they won two of those games is remarkable.

8. ... particularly the offensive line.The Jaguars allowed six sacks Sunday. That brings their total to 19 over the last four games. Some of the issue has been quarterback Cody Kessler holding the ball too long, but 19 sacks in four games … that they won two of those games is remarkable.

9. Blake Bortles has life.Bortles spent three games as the backup to Kessler. He replaced Kessler in the second half Sunday and led the Jaguars to a go-ahead touchdown drive. Bortles no longer appears to be the Jaguars' future, but he had a feel-good moment in the present Sunday.

10. Head Coach Doug Marrone's not ready to name a starter.OK, this is more "What We Didn't Learn" Sunday. Marrone said after the Dolphins game he wasn't ready to name a starting quarterback for Sunday's regular-season finale. Stay tuned.

11. Penalties remain an issue.The Jaguars were called for six holding penalties in the second half Sunday. Six? How bad was it? Marrone told the linemen he couldn't remember seeing holds so blatant.

12 …. and so do injuries.We've talked a lot here about the issues facing the offensive line. It's only fair to acknowledge the reason – of the five starters on the line Sunday, one started Week 1: right guard A.J. Cann. Two – left tackle Ereck Flowers and guard Patrick Omameh – weren't on the team early in the season. The situation got worse when right tackle Josh Wells left with a concussion. Yes, the Jaguars' line is struggling – but there's a legitimate reason.

13. Carlos Hyde could have a role moving forward.When the veteran running back was inactive in a Week 15 loss to Washington, speculation was he might not return for 2019. His 47 yards on eight carries Sunday could change that speculation.

14. Dede Westbrook is the Jaguars' best offensive weapon.We've been learning this throughout the second half of the season, but the second-year receiver showed it again Sunday. He caught seven passes for just 45 yards, but he also had a nine-yard run on a reverse and a 44-yard punt return. Westbrook started training camp as perhaps the team's fourth receiver. He'll be much more featured next season.

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