The Jaguars Stay Relevant In the AFC South Race
Indianapolis, IN — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, was inactive for Sunday’s matchup (ankle) against the Indianapolis Colts (2-4), but the Jags did not require his services. In fact, not much offense was needed as the Jaguars (4-3) shut out the Colts, 27-0.
Jags quarterback Blake Bortles found success passing with 330 yards through the air. Bortles gashed the Colts 30th ranked pass defense with three passing plays of at least 45 yards. Opposing teams have consistently stacked the box with eight or more defenders when they play the Jags. Hopefully, the offense can become more balanced coming out of the bye week.
But the story of this game was the defense. Already leading the NFL with 23 sacks coming into Sunday’s matchup, Jacksonville added ten more sacks to their total. The Jags shut out the Colts as they harassed quarterback Jacoby Brissett all afternoon. “We feel like we should be able to consistently do that,” said Jags linebacker Paul Posluszny. “We feel like this is what we should be.”
Jacksonville’s defense has officially put the NFL on notice. Whether they think highly of the Jaguars or not the rest of the league must respect the Jaguars defense. Jacksonville’s record may be 4-3, but they’re coming off their second ten sack game this season. At this rate the they are on pace for 75 sacks this season. The current record is 72 held by the 1984 Chicago Bears.
It all starts up front with free agent acquisition Calais Campbell, who had two sacks against the Colts bringing his total to ten for the season. The last time a Jags player had ten sacks was 2006 (Bobby McCray). “The W is all I care about, getting that W,” Campbell said.
Run Game Still Strong
Although Fournette did not play, the Jags running game did not slow down. Exceeding their season average with 188 yards, running backs T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory picked up where Fournette left off. Ivory got most of the work with 17 carries, but Yeldon broke off a 58-yard run late in the third quarter, bringing his total for the day to 122 yards.
Coming into Sunday, Jacksonville faced more stacked boxes than any team in the league (66). With the passing game gashing the Colts in the first half, the Jags were able to find running room as the defense loosened up. It’s good to know that the Jaguars do not have to solely rely on Fournette for production as the second half of the season ensues after the bye week.
The Bortles Touch
Bortles doesn’t throw for 300 plus yards often but when he does the Jags don’t fare well in those games, 2-11.
Sunday, Bortles almost had 300 yards in the first half. With 282 yards, Bortles set a personal best for passing yards in the first half. “I think it’s something that everybody knew we were capable of.” Said Bortles, who finished the day with 330 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions.
After Jags receiver Allen Robinson went down in the first game (ACL), the Jaguars have lacked playmakers in the passing game. As a result, Bortles has struggled with the 30th rank pass offense. As the Colts stacked the box not fearing Bortles, the play-action pass plays resulted in chunks of yardage.
Although, Indianapolis has one of the worst passing defenses (30th), Bortles can learn and grow from this building confidence going into the bye week.
“I think when you do it once people will look at it and then they’ll make you prove it again,” said head coach Doug Marrone said. “I think it’s one of those things that you’ve just got to go out there and you’ve got to prove it each week.”