Jaguars vs. Colts, 10 Observations: Bortles controls game with his feet, running game rebounds

Gus Bradley on Blake Bortles scrambling in win over Colts

It took four weeks and a trip to London, but the Jaguars finally added a tally to the win column on Sunday.

The Big Cats outlasted the Indianapolis Colts at Wembley Stadium, despite giving up 21 points in the fourth and final quarter. The 15-minute stretch offered suspense to a game that was one-sided for the majority of the contest. 

It wasn't pretty, but Jacksonville will take the win in their adopted second home.

As with any game, the outcome of the matchup left a lot to think about. Here are 10 observations from the Jaguars' first win of the season.

1. Gus Bradley is seemingly safe. Bradley secured the win with a positive output from his quarterback and his defense. The Jaguars head coach consistently brings up starting fast. On Sunday, his group did just that. His young pass rushers are developing (more on that later), his quarterback played very well despite the offense losing two important pieces in the first half and he managed the game well with an actual running attack. If the Jaguars can maintain momentum after the bye week, they will be in a place to potentially contend for the division title.

The Jaguars are 1-0 in the AFC South and there is very little to like about the division at the moment. 

2. Blake Bortles' mobility helped the Jaguars own the first half. Jacksonville has badly needed Bortles to do something when nothing is available to him. That's what good quarterbacks do. Against the Colts, Bortles scrambled when his weapons were covered. You'll notice he only ran for 36 yards but he made each inch count. His one-yard scramble for a touchdown was a nice play and showed his ability to improvise. 

Bortles also avoided turnovers against Indianapolis, which was huge in the field position battle. He had six interceptions in the first three games this season, but he was cool, calm and collected at Wembley Stadium. 

3. The running game is alive - at least for now. The Jaguars had averaged 2.8 yards per carry entering this game, but T.J. Yeldon started off hot and produced 71 rushing yards on 14 carries (5.1 YPC) and he and Chris Ivory averaged more than four yards per carry on the day. It was a good sign for a major part of the Jaguars offense that has badly under-performed.

4. The Jaguars had to improvise due to injuries. Already without Julius Thomas and Ben Koyack, the Jaguars lost Marcedes Lewis to a hip injury in the second quarter. The only active tight end remaining on the roster was former wide receiver Neal Sterling. The team used wide receiver Arrelious Benn at tight end and managed Sterling's usage throughout the second half. Sterling had spent very little time on offense during his career and he played admirably. He also had the first reception of his career, a 10-yard grab for a first down.

*Fun fact: When Sterling catches passes, the Jaguars win regular season games.

5. The pass rush has improved every week. While they didn't get a sack on the play, pressure from Dante Fowler created a turnover off a batted ball. It was the play that set the Jaguars in motion for the quick start. Rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is starting to look like a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate and Malik Jackson finally looks comfortable in his role. The Jaguars are also blitzing more and linebacker Paul Posluszny had 1.5 sacks on the day. Backup linemen Tyson Alualu and Chris Smith each produced a sack, despite being inactive for multiple games this season.

6. Myles Jack makes a lot of sense at SAM (OTTO) linebacker. Jack needs to be in coverage to thrive. His speed separates him from everyone else and his ability to cover wide receivers, running backs and tight ends is an essential skill on the strong side. He has improved as a run defender since the conclusion of training camp but still needs some work there. Jack played more like a SAM linebacker than an OTTO on Sunday and that was a smart move by the Jaguars. If Jack can excel at all three linebacker positions, he will be a very, very valuable asset.

7. Don't look now, but kicker Jason Myers has made all of his extra points and had a good day on field goals. He went 3-of-3 on field goals and 3-of-3 on extra points. He is 9-of-9 on extra points this season and 7-of-9 on field goals.

8. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are still a dynamic duo. Hurns has had a quiet start to the season but he has been very good when his name has been called. The 42-yard touchdown catch and run was a thing of beauty and his ability to follow blocks is impressive. He is an intelligent route runner and understands how to work space.

Robinson is being fed regularly and is starting to get Pro Bowl players calls. It's at the point where defensive backs are holding onto him even when he's clearly late in Bortles' progressions. Robinson is the best player on this football team.

9. It's hard to say this game was all gumdrops and lollipops. The late-game mishaps showed a lack of imagination in owning the clock. The play-calling was conservative and the execution was sloppy at times. At some point, you have to worry about the closing ability of a team like the Jaguars. They beat a bad Colts team on Sunday and were able to hold on in crunch time. However, a squad like the Denver Broncos or the Minnesota Vikings may not be so easy to contain. This schedule is still pretty daunting, especially when the Jaguars continue to struggle with penalties.

The Jaguars had 11 penalties for 145 yards on Sunday. Yikes!

10. London has really embraced this team. The crowd made it sound like a home game on Sunday and the Jaguars treated it as such. There were a lot of happy European fans in London this afternoon.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.


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