JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 31-12 victory over the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …
1.The Jaguars are 3-1 at the quarter pole.Finishing each quarter with a winning record is a major goal for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone. Mission accomplished on that front, and this team has earned a very good start.
2.Blake Bortles responds.Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles usually responds well to bad plays, bad halves and bad games. Bortles and the offense struggled last week against Tennessee. Guess what we learned again on Sunday?
3.It's time to stop writing Bortles off after bad games.Anyone paying attention knows this. A difficult game for Bortles doesn't mean he's terrible. It means this offense and Bortles are inconsistent. They must get more consistent, but it's time to stop saying they're bad. They're not.
4.Dede Westbrook is showing signs of being really good.This isn't a one-week entry; the second-year wide receiver since coming off injured reserve midway through last season has looked better by the month. Sunday was his best game yet: nine receptions for 130 yards and an 11-yard reverse. It was his first NFL game over 100 yards receiving. It's unlikely to be his last.
5.This defense is big-time.This defense has proved through four games what it showed throughout last season – that it's really good. The defense allowed just 178 total yards Sunday and didn't allow a touchdown until the fourth quarter – on a five-yard drive.
6.This defense is BIG-TIME.The capital letters are necessary because it's not enough just to discuss this unit once. The Jaguars have allowed four touchdowns this season; none have come with the Jaguars holding less than a 10-point lead. The Jaguars' defense allowed the Jets 256 yards rushing in Week 4 last season. The Jets' rushing total Sunday: 34 yards.
7.Leonard Fournette's hamstring looks like it's going to be a story for a while.The good news for the Jaguars: their second-year running back played Sunday for the first time since Week 1. The less-good news: he left in the second quarter with hamstring tightness after 30 yards on 11 carries. This story feels like it's going to linger. We'll see.
8.Moncrief may be a productive signing after all.Many observers were writing off the signing of veteran receiver Donte Moncrief as a bad one. Talk about premature. Moncrief turned in his best game of the season's first quarter Sunday, catching five passes for 109 yards and a touchdown with a 67-yard touchdown. His numbers for four weeks: 12 receptions, 173 yards, two touchdowns. That's good production – whatever observers believe.
9.Penalties remain an issue.Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone made it very clear he's not ignoring this issue. Nor should he. The Jaguars were penalized nine times for 89 yards. They have been penalized 35 times for 354 yards in four games. "That's something that obviously is going to catch us if we don't get it corrected," Marrone said. He's right.
10.The Jaguars are still too sloppy.When Marrone was talking about what might "catch" the Jaguars, he meant turnovers as well as penalties. The Jaguars lost the turnover battle 3-0 on Sunday. They are tied for last in the NFL in that category at minus-four. The way this team plays it feels like it will improve in giveaway-takeaway ratio. That improvement must happen.
11.Josh Lambo is good.His statistics since joining the Jaguars with 10 games remaining in the 2017 season are staggering: 24 field goals in 25 attempts. He hasn't missed in eight attempts this season and has made 19 consecutive field goals – one shy of the franchise record shared by Josh Scobee and Mike Hollis. It's impossible to overstate the importance of a reliable field-goal kicker when you emphasize ball control and defense, and it's impossible to overemphasize the stability Lambo has brought to the team.
12.The defensive front is still nasty …End Calais Campbell and tackle Marcell Dareus combining for a safety in the third quarter was only one example of this Sunday. The Jaguars "only" registered two sacks Sunday, but don't let that number fool you. This team pressured Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold throughout and helped ensure the game wasn't close.
13. … really nasty.End Yannick Ngakoue and tackle Malik Jackson both picked up their first sacks of the season Sunday. These are two more examples of how sacks often don't reflect the performances of defensive linemen. Both players have been disruptive all season.
14.The Jaguars are good.Yes, the penalties must get fixed. Yes, the turnover margin through must reverse. But don't lose sight of this: The Jaguars outgained the Jets, 503-178, and thoroughly dominated Sunday's game. Some observers and fans have viewed Sunday as cause for concern. The opposite is true. This team is good with a chance to be special. Sunday showed that once again.