JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 29-15 victory over the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
1.The Jaguars are back to .500. The Jaguars are now 4-4. Victories the last two Sundays were over struggling teams – the Cincinnati Bengals and Jets – but both felt like must-win games. They're not only .500, they're back in the postseason discussion.
2.The Jaguars are resilient. Head Coach Doug Marrone started discussing this in late September. It didn't resonate when the Jaguars were trying to find their footing against Carolina and New Orleans in Weeks 5 and 6, but they now have won four of six games. Maybe Marrone was on to something.
3.Gardner Minshew II good … Maybe he's destined to be great – or maybe not. Maybe he's the starter moving forward – or maybe not. But the rookie sixth-round quarterback is good. He has proven that in eight games this season, and he proved it again Sunday in his best game yet as the Jaguars' starter.
4. … and he's magical. How else to explain how he evaded pressure on touchdowns to wide receivers Chris Conley and DJ Chark Jr.? That was magical stuff.
5.But he's more than magic. Minshew's creativity stood out Sunday, but he was also efficient and poised in the face of an aggressive defense. As impressive as the outside-the-box stuff were his accuracy and effectiveness when he wasn't improvising.
6.The starting quarterback in mid-November hasn't been decided. Marrone was asked after Sunday's game how much he had thought about what he will do when Week 1 starting quarterback Nick Foles returns from a broken clavicle against Indianapolis on November 17. He said he hadn't thought about the topic much because he doesn't have to think about it yet. Marrone emphasized that he was telling the truth, and there's no reason to think that wasn't the case.
7.The Jaguars are a takeaway-creating machine. OK, maybe they're not a machine yet, but the Jaguars have seven takeaways in the last two games. That's after forcing just two in the first six games. That's a significant turnaround in a critical category.
8.Leonard Fournette really has changed – for the better. The third-year running back has rushed consistently well for much of the last month and half and leads the AFC in rushing, but perhaps as impressive was when he maintained his composure when Jets cornerback Brian Poole clapped in his face near the Jets goal line in the third quarter Sunday. It's hard to imagine Fournette not reacting negatively in such a situation during his first two seasons. That he didn't react Sunday should be acknowledged for what it was – another sign that Fournette has matured.
9.Josh Lambo is good. Your weekly reminder – even though he missed a point-after Sunday.
10.The wide receivers are good. Remember the offseason? When pretty much every Jaguars observer wondered why the team wasn't doing more to address wide receiver? The decision-makers believed the receivers were good. It turns out they were right.
11.Josh Allen is good already – and destined to be better. The rookie defensive end had two more sacks Sunday and has seven for the season. That's on pace for 14, which is Defensive Rookie of the Year-worthy stuff. Who knows if that will happen? What we do know is the kid is going to be good. Maybe phenomenally good.
12.Yannick Ngakoue has been good for a while – and is still good. The veteran defensive end had two sacks Sunday and now has four for the season. He is fully healthy after an early-season hamstring injury, and he's pressuring the quarterback consistently. As always.
13.The Jaguars can stop the run. Remember three weeks ago? When the run defense was a mess against Carolina? Everyone involved said it was a matter of run fits and that they would get it fixed. The Jaguars have allowed 104, 33 and 46 yards in the last three weeks. Consider it fixed, at least for the last three weeks.
14.This defense is really good with a lead. We keep learning this, and we learned it again Sunday. The Jaguars led throughout a 20-7 victory over Tennessee in Week 3, and the result was nine sacks. They led late against Cincinnati, and the result was three fourth-quarter takeaways. They led most of the game Sunday, and the result was eight sacks and three interceptions.
15.Marrone is doing a good job. If getting this team to .500 with the starting quarterback getting hurt in Week 1 – and with a month's worth of Jalen Ramsey drama – doesn't qualify as a head coach doing a good job, what does?
16.The Jaguars are back to .500.Yes, we opened with this but it's important enough to mention twice. The Jaguars started 0-2 and dipped to 2-4. They have responded each time with two-game winning streaks, and they have played through considerable adversity. They're in the postseason conversation. Somehow.