The Jaguars accomplished quite a bit during Sunday's win over the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field.
The team won on its own "true" home turf for the first time in nearly 11 months. It won back-to-back games for the first time in over a year. Most importantly, the team finished its second quarter of the season, 3-1, which has led to a 5-3 record to end the first half of the campaign.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone and his squad have turned the page on the team's history of early-season losing. They've been dominant in wins and this one was no different, even without their top offensive player.
Here are 10 observations following the Jaguars' 23-7 win over the Bengals:
1. Jaguars make up for Fournette's loss with veteran running backs
The Jaguars sent out some shocking news 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday. The team benched starting running back Leonard Fournette for violating team rules.
On paper, one would think the collateral damage would stretch past the thousands of fantasy football players who own Fournette on their rosters. Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant played very well without Fournette in Week 7 but could they really do it again against the Bengals?
Well, the answer was yes. Ivory produced one of his better games with the Jaguars, collecting 103 total yards on 23 carries. Ivory led the team with 69 rushing yards, setting the tone on several drives.
First Coast News listed Ivory as the Jaguars' player of the game for his work.
Yeldon bounced back from an early fumble and made an impact as a change-of-pace back and a blocker. He also helped close out the game with a few runs in the fourth quarter.
Grant made his limited carries count, as he produced 18 yards on four carries.
The trio produced 128 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards. That's 173 of the 407 total yards for the Jaguars' offense.
2. Bortles was terrific for the second-straight game
Jaguars fans continue to clamor for someone new at quarterback. However, Bortles' performance over the last two weeks has the Jaguars' front office feeling mighty confident in the fourth-year player.
The Jaguars were 12-of-18 on third down against the Bengals. Bortles was a large reason why the team was able to convert 66 percent of their third-down attempts. The Jaguars started off 9-of-10 on third down, which is a very impressive output.
Bortles hit eight different receivers and completed 24-of-38 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown. His mobility in the pocket helped him avoid being sacked and he collected 20 rushing yards on five carries.
For the most part, his decision-making was on point. He missed a few throws, including a wide open shot at tight end Marcedes Lewis in the second quarter. He also didn't see rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole streaking downfield by himself on the play before that.
Otherwise, Bortles was outstanding, as Marrone said in his post-game press conference.
3. The defense continues to dominate
The Jaguars' defense held the Bengals' offense to just 148 totals yards and a touchdown.
The Bengals have struggled mightily on offense this season and the Jaguars played them perfectly.
The Jaguars didn't produce turnovers and only had two sacks but they were able to stop the run and make Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton irrelevant.
New defensive tackle Marcell Dareus stood out on a few plays against the run.
4. Lambo solidifies himself as the Jaguars' kicker
The Jaguars made a popular move in releasing former kicker Jason Myers after Week 6. The team then signed Josh Lambo, who wasn't a very inspiring addition on paper.
So far, Lambo has been tremendous. On Sunday, he was 3-of-3 on field goals and 2-of-2 on extra point attempts.
Lambo made a career-high 56-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was the first converted field goal attempt of 50 yards or more for the Jaguars this season.
5. Ramsey probably shouldn't have been ejected
The jawing back-and-forth between Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green in the first half could have been seen from space. Ramsey was consistently animated before, after and in between plays.
Eventually, the smack talk led to actual - wait for it - smacks (read: punches). Green was incensed after Ramsey pushed him to the ground towards the end of the second quarter. The wide receiver responded by throwing Ramsey to the ground and punching him in the head (with a helmet on) multiple times.
Green was definitely deserving of an ejection. Ramsey probably should have received a personal foul call and a big fine.
Referee Brad Allen explained that Ramsey brought on the brawl and had been warned prior to the fight. Green was warned as well.
None of the other players involved were thrown out. I'm not sure why Ramsey - who failed to throw a fist - was rushed off the field. It will be interesting to see how the league handles this situation moving forward.
There will presumably be quite a few fines handed out.
6. The makeshift offensive line played well
The Jaguars were without A.J. Cann at right guard against the Bengals. The team's solution was to move starting center Brandon Linder to right guard and keep his replacement Tyler Shatley in the middle. Both players delivered against the Bengals.
The pair helped the Jaguars gain 148 rushing yards. The overall group protected Bortles, not allowing a sack in the contest.
It was a great sign for the team moving forward as it's clear Shatley has become a strong sixth lineman.
7. Lee doesn't need to practice apparently
I have been hard on Jaguars starting wide receiver Marqise Lee. He had not stepped up as a top receiving threat prior to the bye week.
On Sunday, Lee looked like a true No. 1 option in the receiving game. He collected 75 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions.
Lee missed two practices this week with a knee injury. He didn't need those sessions to excel against Cincinnati.
8. Jacksonville has found a quality punt returner
First-year wide receiver Jaydon Mickens seemed to be on the cusp of being a one-week call-up with rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook potentially returning to the lineup this week. Against the Bengals, he made himself a key piece to the puzzle.
It will be hard to move on from Mickens after his 63-yard punt return for a touchdown. He showed impressive speed and followed his blocks very well.
Sidenote: He also has a great personality in the locker room.
9. Lewis continues his career resurgence
A lot of folks were concerned about the team's tight end position after Mychal Rivera was put on injured reserve in September. Lewis has curbed those concerns when targeted this season.
On Sunday, Lewis was instrumental in the Jaguars' success in the first half. He caught three passes for 49 receiving yards.
On the season, Lewis has caught 10 passes for 154 yards and four touchdowns.
10. Marrone deserves a lot of credit for the 5-3 start
The Jaguars added some quality players this offseason. While they have hit on most of the them, Marrone deserves a lot of credit for how they have all come together.
The Jaguars don't have their top wide receiver. The offensive line has changed a few times this season. Marrone just benched his top running back.
Still, Marrone has led this team to a 5-3 start. That's as many wins as his predecessor had in his best full season.
The players, the front office and the assistant coaches all deserve credit but Marrone is the guy making this work on a week-to-week basis. If the Jaguars make the playoffs, he should be receiving votes for NFL Coach of the Year.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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