With the offense unable to stay on the field for most of the first half, the defense had to keep the Jaguars within reach through most of the first 3 quarters against the Bears.
The Jacksonville Jaguars got a much needed win on Sunday against an underwhelming Chicago Bears squad and it wasn’t easy. After marching down the field with ease on the opening drive, the Jaguars squandered an opportunity to get up early with a costly interception by quarterback Blake Bortles (although the fault for the turnover is almost entirely on wide receiver Allen Robinson). After that, the offense stunk it up for the rest of the first half, registering a measly 13 yards after the first drive.
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With the time of possession staggeringly unbalanced in the first half (the Jaguars offense was only on the field for 11:19 and 24 plays), the defense had to hold on for dear life as the Bears offense methodically moved the ball. Playing mostly “bend but don’t break,” the defense kept it a low-scoring affair. That was the key to Sunday’s win.
Some more musings from the second win of the 2016 regular season:
- Blake Bortles had his best game of the season but it still wasn’t very good. Bortles should’ve had a touchdown on the opening drive, but he appeared to let the unfortunate interception bog him down for a while. He still missed some open receivers and displayed erratic accuracy, but overall I was encouraged. Like in week 1 and week 3, Bortles had an opportunity to give his team the lead in the 4th quarter, but this time he actually delivered. Granted it was a fluky 51-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Arrelious Benn, but Bortles showed touch and poise in the no-huddle offense. Maybe the coaching staff will do more of the things Bortles is succeeding at doing with a time-constraint at the end of games.
- Jalen Ramsey has shown a penchant to talk boldly in his short career, but he’s backed it up. He was tasked with shadowing Alshon Jeffery the entire day, a sign of respect from the coaching staff for such a young player. Ramsey looked the part of a rookie in the first half, but the 5th overall pick bounced back in the second half, shutting down Jeffery and providing a highlight in the game-clinching play.
- One thing to keep an eye on: the running game. The Jaguars are 2-3 despite averaging only 71 yards per game on the ground, good for 31st in the NFL (curiously enough, the only team worse at running the ball is the undefeated Minnesota Vikings). If the Jaguars can get any semblance of a running game going, it’s going to help out Blake Bortles and the defense. Chris Ivory still isn’t involved nearly enough, an indication that the coaches aren’t using the power running game enough. The balance between the run and pass is still an issue – Ivory and Yeldon only got 17 rushing attempts to Bortles’ 33 passes. This despite the game being close for the entire 60 minutes. Between the success with the no-huddle in the 4th quarter and some possible philosophical changes to the running game, the Jaguars feel close to an offensive breakout.