JACKSONVILLE – What We Learned from the Jaguars' 44-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …
1.Blake Bortles is the guy …He's the starter – for Sunday, and for the future. It happened. He's in. He played. It's real. The future? It's now.
2… and the Jaguars have a lot of work to do.We're going to discuss rookie quarterback Blake Bortles in more than a few of these first WWL entries, so in the interest of fairness, we'll mention that not all is good with the Jaguars right now. A lot of subpar play in too many areas. The Kid was good Sunday, and showed a lot of potential, but he can't fix everything. Other areas must step up. Fast.
3.Blake Bortles is the guy.Yes, this was the first entry in this What We Learned, but it has been a topic of debate, discussion and even a bit of discord for so long it bears repeating. Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, is now the Jaguars' starting quarterback. He replaced Chad Henne at halftime Sunday, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley after the game said the move was permanent. The wait is over. The debate is, too. Bortles is the starter.
4.Bortles has a chance to be really good.All of the good things that had people excited during the preseason were there again Sunday. Bortles has pocket presence. He has the ability to move and buy time in the pocket. He has a knack for the big play. He's not scared to throw downfield. He seems to have the "It" factor that makes quarterbacks special. All of the things you want in a No. 3 overall quarterback, he appears to possess.
5.Bortles has a lot of improving to do.He threw for 223 yards and two second-half touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, including a throw to the middle of the field across his body that he called a "stupid pass." All of the good stuff is there, but all of the rookie stuff is, too. That's OK. The rookie stuff is to be expected, and the good stuff makes it worth it.
6.Bortles is mature.Look back to No. 5, when Bortles called the across-his-body throw a "stupid pass." That comment was pretty much unsolicited Sunday. He didn't make a show of saying it, and didn't say it angrily. He just said it because he knew it was true, and knew he was trying to do too much on the play. Everything you hear about this kid is he's mature beyond his years, and you don't see very much to contradict it.
7.The defense needs work – a surprising amount of work.We emphasize "surprising" here, because this was supposed to be a strong area. That was the theory in the offseason, that the defensive front had been strengthened, which in turn would make the defense stronger. That would make it an area that could keep a young offense close. That was the theory. The reality hasn't been close to that. The Jaguars were good for a half against Philadelphia and have been poor defensively since.
8.The defense is searching for answers.Players and coaches were confident following a 41-10 loss to Washington a week ago that the game was basically an aberration. There were missed tackles and missed assignments and too many receivers running open. Now, the Jaguars are going on 10 consecutive quarters of that sort of play. That makes it less aberration and more trend and that's not good.
9.Chad Henne is a class act.The Jaguars veteran quarterback lost his starting job to Bortles Sunday. As expected, he reacted with not a ripple of resentment. After learning of the change, Henne gathered members of the offense and told them that Bortles was the starter now – and that it was time to play hard for Bortles. Henne afterward admitted disappointment and said he hoped to one day start again in the NFL, but there was no anger and no sense of having been wronged. Henne has behaved professionally since his arrival in Jacksonville, and Sunday was no different.
10.Allen Robinson has a chance to be good …This has been increasingly evident in recent weeks as the rookie second-round selection has returned from a hamstring injury. He was limited in the regular-season opener, but in the two weeks since he has been the Jaguars' most reliable, consistent receiver. Three games into his rookie season, there are no signs that this kid can't play.
11. … and Allen Hurns does, too.He hasn't been as consistent as Robinson, but the rookie free agent has shown a knack for getting into the end zone with three touchdowns in three games and he has shown a knack for the big play. He has had a few errors, and a few drops, but has shown every sign of being productive for a long time.
12.The run still must improve.It was better Sunday. The presence of Bortles at quarterback could help it continue to improve more. Still, 30 of the season-high 105 rushing yards were from Bortles, so while Sunday was better, more is needed.
Images from the 1st half of the Jacksonville Jaguars' matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in week 3
13.Bortles is the guy. This is the moment that has been coming since the Jaguars drafted Bortles in May. You figured it would come before the bye, but you didn't know when. It came Sunday, and debate the timing all you want, but there's no debate that the future and identity of the organization will begin being shaped in the coming months. The future? It's now.
Take a look back at Blake Bortles' first NFL regular season appearance.