Jaguars vs. Colts, Week 13 Observations: Big bounce back for Bortles and the passing offense

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone discusses his approach with young wide receivers

The Jaguars are 8-4 following the team's second-straight win over the Indianapolis Colts this season.

The 30-10 blowout victory offered up a strong team win for Jacksonville. All three phases delivered in one way or another.

The win wasn't perfect (more on that later) but it offered plenty of elements to be praised.

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Below are 10 observations following the Jaguars' second win over the Colts:

1. Bortles bounces back with fantastic performance

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is hard to figure out.

He will have games where he is a non-factor on offense in a win. He will also take part in outings where he is seen as a large part of the problem during a loss. 

And then he will have a performance like he did against the Colts.

Bortles was on point throughout the game against Indianapolis. He completed 35-of-26 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. He attacked the Colts downfield and was accurate for the majority of the game.

Like most veteran quarterbacks, Bortles tested the opposing inexperienced defensive backs, trusted his receivers to come up with jump ball catches and picked up the slack for the running game when it couldn't get going.

Bortles led six scoring drives, threw for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns and was able to avoid turnovers against a division rival.

In two games against the Colts this season, Bortles completed 44-of-61 passes for 639 passing yards and three touchdowns.

2. The young wide receivers show why the front office trusts them

The Jaguars are inexperienced at wide receiver right now. That could serve as an excuse but the Jaguars aren't inclined to accept it.

Wide receiver Marqise Lee has had an up-and-down season since being handed the No. 1 job. However, on Sunday, the team's lone healthy veteran wide receiver played the part well.

While he did get called for a false start on the opening drive, he more than made up for the penalty with seven catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Lee hauled in 70 percent of his targets, a big step up from past weeks.

The Jaguars' two rookie wide receivers, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole, handled quite a bit of work against the Colts. 

Westbrook has shown a lot of growth over the last three weeks. Week 13 was his best game so far. The fourth-round pick caught six passes for 78 yards, moving the chains on some critical grabs.

Cole caught the first touchdown of his career. He also provided a big play in the second half with a 34-yard gain off a Bortles pass.

The drops weren't there this week. That will help build trust between Bortles and the coaching staff.

The front office could have tried to trade for a veteran wide receiver earlier in the season. Instead, it relied on its young talent. This was the first sign that the gamble may have paid off.

3. Hats should be tipped to Posluszny, Brown

The Jaguars were without weakside linebacker Telvin Smith due to a concussion. Smith is a veteran leader and probably the best player at his position in the NFL.

Still, the Jaguars needed to fill his shoes. Veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny and rookie Blair Brown did that on Sunday.

Brown did well in base situations, especially against the run. He was instinctive and hit holes with confidence, forcing runners to hit the ground or stall in their cuts.

Posluszny had his best game of the season, showing off his blitzing ability and reading the run game to perfection. He finished with 14 tackles (two for loss) and 1.5 sacks.

Losing Smith seemed like a scary situation on paper but Posluszny and Brown were able to bridge the gap without the playmaker.

4. The sack game remains strong for the Jaguars

Defensive end Calais Campbell set a new franchise single-season record with his sack on Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett Sunday. In his first season with the Jaguars, Campbell has produced 12.5 sacks. That's the most ever for a Jacksonville player in a season.

Campbell has been sensational this season as a pass rusher. He has also helped others produce in that area as well.

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson recorded the first sack of the game, using his athleticism to keep up with a scrambling Brissett.

 5. The secondary continues to create turnovers

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey recorded his third interception of the season at the end of the second quarter Sunday. It took points off the board, as the Colts were nearing field goal range.

In the fourth quarter, free safety Tashaun Gipson came up with an interception. The Colts were looking to stage a comeback on the drive and Gipson put an end to any hope they had.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone praised Gipson after the game. Marrone said Gipson is having a great year.

6. The running offense is still struggling

Again, the win wasn't perfect. 

The Jaguars' running backs produced just 69 rushing yards on 24 carries (2.9 yards per carry). That's not ideal.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette continues to struggle when it comes to picking up consistent chunks of yardage. Outside of a 24-yard gain in the fourth quarter, Fournette had 19 carries for 33 yards (1.7 yards per carry). 

Fournette still has the lingering ankle injury but that doesn't seem to be the only problem. Obviously, opposing teams are stacking the line of scrimmage, but they've been doing that all year.

The Jaguars need to find a way to get the running game going. The entire philosophy of this offense is built around the running game.

7. The running defense could have been better

The Colts were able to run the ball on the Jaguars consistently. 

Running backs Frank Gore and Marlon Mack combined for 107 rushing yards on 19 carries (5.6 yards per carry). The duo also produced three runs of 11 yards or more.

This was the first game since the bye week where the Jaguars offered up clear weakness against the run. 

8. Special teams come up big

The fake punt pass by punter Brad Nortman broke open the game for the Jaguars. Instead of a stalled opening drive for the offense, the 29-yard connection to tight end James O'Shaughnessy put the Jaguars' in scoring range.

The Jaguars' offense handled the rest and eventually scored the game's opening touchdown.

Kick returner Corey Grant also made some waves. He had two returns for 46 yards. His 31-yard return in the third quarter was a highlight to start the second half.

Kicker Josh Lambo continued his strong play, going 3-of-3 on field goals.

There was the bad snap on an extra point but in a 20-point win, it's barely worth discussing.

9. The Jaguars are still tied at the top of AFC South

The Tennessee Titans (8-4) beat the Houston Texans, 24-13, on Sunday. The Titans are 4-1 against the division and hold the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Jaguars.

If Jacksonville were to beat the Titans in Week 17, the division record would be the next tie-breaker. The Jaguars are 3-1 against the division. Jacksonville hosts the Texans in Week 15.

10. A heavy test looms

The Seattle Seahawks (8-4) will come to town in Week 14. While it is a matchup with an NFC team, every win or loss will matter down the stretch.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will be a particularly strong test for the Jaguars' defense. His mobility and elusiveness are unlike anything Jacksonville has seen so far this season.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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