As it turns out, the first game the Jaguars played against the Colts couldn’t have come at a better time. Jacksonville was able to get their first win of the season Sunday in London over Indianapolis. They knew they needed this game, and they played like it.
During the course of the win, a few things stood out over everything else.
The first of which was that Blake Bortles finally played a clean game. Many of the problems that Jacksonville has faced this season on offense occur when Bortles tries to do to much with the ball, either when he thinks he has to or when he actually needs to. During those times, Bortles almost seems to be a magnet for mistakes. For instance, last week against Baltimore, Bortles took two terrible sacks near the end of the game and threw a bad interception.
Against the Colts, Bortles managed the game and didn’t force any throws. His numbers weren’t eye popping, 19-33 for 207 yards with two touchdowns. But the key stat is that he didn’t throw any interceptions. The Bortles that showed up in London is exactly the kind of Bortles the Jaguars need going into the future. If the Jaguars can get that kind of production out of Bortles, Jacksonville can start to turn this season around.
T.J. Yeldon was also a high note for the Jaguars this week. Coming into the game, Jacksonville’s rushing offense was putrid. Yeldon had 14 carries for 74 carries on the day, which is just about 5.1 yards per carry. That's more than double his average yards per carry for the season coming into the game.
But just as good as how well Yeldon performed on the ground was how well he performed coming out of the backfield. He caught 4 passes for 46 yards. He had more catches than Allen Hurns (only one less than Robinson) and almost as many yards as both of them. He didn't score any touchdowns on Sunday, but he was just as valuable to that offense as anyone else on the field.
The biggest takeaway from this game, however, was that this defense has the tools to be really, really good.
Getting six sacks, even if it is against a team with an offensive line as bad as the Colts' line is, is not something to sneeze at. Six different players were attributed with sacks, meaning that the Jaguars were getting production from a variety of different players.
Yannick Ngakoue caught an interception, registered a sack, and forced a fumble. So far this year that makes three sacks, two of which are strip sacks, an additional forced fumble, and an interception. Jalen Ramsey has been making waves early in the season, and there's talk about him as an early candidate for defensive rookie of the year, but could Ngakoue be making his case for the same award? Myles Jack started his first game in place of Dan Skuta, and looked good. Telvin Smith led the team with eight tackles, and Ramsey had another solid performance at corner.
Overall, there are still things to work on, like keeping the pressure on for the entire game and not surrendering a big lead. But the Jaguars do have much to look forward to as well, and we got a glimpse of that in London.