In the first quarter of the Week 7 matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars, I joked that it would be a battle of which team screwed up horribly less often. That turned out to be more prophetic than I thought it would be in a mistake-riddled game that the Jaguars escaped from as victors, 24-6. It is the first win of the season for the Jaguars and the first win in the career of quarterback Blake Bortles, although it was probably the rookie's worst game as a pro.
Bortles did one thing very well on Sunday and that was run the read option. He pulled the ball back just four times, but managed 38 yards on those four carries and the threat of his leg helped to spring Denard Robinson for a career day. It was a different story for the Jaguars' passing game which struggled to find any rhythm all day.
By game's end, Bortles had 159 yards passing, one touchdown and completed 17-of-31 passes. Not exactly a horrible statline if it wasn't for three interceptions that proved costly. One set up the Cleveland offense for one of two field goals on the day and another killed what could have been a back-breaking scoring opportunity for the Jaguars.
Three things we learned
1. This defense is improving quickly: It was never really that much of a talent issue for the Jaguars during the team's early defensive struggles. I'm not saying it's the NFL's most talented group, but much of the issues early in the year were mental errors and horribly blown coverages. While the defense allowed a 65-yard pass play in the fourth quarter, the defense never allowed the Cleveland offense into the end zone and dominated up front against a team that entered with the third-most rushing yards in the NFL.
2. Bortles/Shoelace read option is tough to stop: As mentioned before, Bortles ran the read option perfectly on Sunday afternoon. Denard Robinson looked absolutely excellent on Sunday with 127 rushing yards and a game-sealing touchdown late, and Bortles took the amount of snaps you'd hope your quarterback would take. Just four rushing attempts for the quarterback was enough to keep the Cleveland defense honest all game and make rushes with Bortles especially effective.
3. Jaguars can win ugly: This might sound like a silly thing to "learn" from a game, but after losing really ugly early in the year, the Jaguars came up just short in the last couple showings. While the score might make the game look convincing, it really never was until final minutes when Cleveland made a pair of turnovers deep in their own territory to allow the Jaguars to seal the win. What it proved is that the Jaguars can stick in a game mentally for a full 60 minutes. Handwank if you want to, but that's something winless teams often don't do.