As far as 27-point losses go, the Jaguars' destruction at the hands of the Colts didn't feel so bad once the second half rolled around. The future came at the beginning of the second half and there were glimpses of legitimate hope for a successful offensive future in Jacksonville.
After the Chad Henne-led Jaguars accomplished all of two first downs in the first half and fell in a 30-0 hole, Gus Bradley and the Jaguars coaching staff thought "Hmm...is there any other option to get this offense moving? Is there any way we could put in a talented young option to try and get things going in a positive direction?"
In came Blake Bortles, who scored 17 points in his one half of action, and deservedly earned a huge ovation from the EverBank Field crowd. Credit for the first touchdown of the day would be more appropriately placed on Allen Hurns, who broke two tackles to break away for a 63-yard score, but it was a case of a receiver making a play for Bortles, as he gave his receivers that opportunity often in the second half.
Were there rookie mistakes? Absolutely. The late interception that turned into a 47-yard return touchdown was downright terrible, but it's the type of rookie plays we're going to have to live with. And I, for one, am ok with that.
All in all, it was another terrible loss for the Jaguars, as they struggled in every aspect. And yet, there's reason for optimism in Jacksonville.
Three things we learned
1. The offensive line isn't that bad: The Jaguars spent much of the last week trying to convince its fans that the 10 sacks given up by the team in a Week 2 beat-down at the hands of Washington were the fault of an offensive line that they couldn't dare trust to protect Bortles. After all, at least nine of the 10 sacks were apparently the fault of the line, who couldn't protect poor Henne. That narrative can very firmly be placed in the fiction category now, as Bortles looked mighty comfortable in the pocket and was sacked just once, while avoiding other pressures with ease.
2. The defense is better with Cyprien: Saying the defense is bad isn't quite something "we learned" this week, so instead I'll point to the play of Johnathan Cyprien for the second time in the last three weeks. After injuring himself in Week 1, the defense of the Jaguars started giving up huge plays to the Eagles and that trend continued in Week 2. While the defense was bad and got shredded by the Colts offense, they didn't allow giants touchdowns with blown coverages like they had in the first two weeks. I'm pointing to the inclusion of Cyprien for this change.
3. Shoelace is dynamic: Denard Robinson didn't quite break away from the defense and have a huge play, but it certainly felt like he was about to. With just as many carries as Toby Gerhart on Sunday, Robinson gained four more yards, but looked far more dynamic and explosive. When the Jaguars turned to Bortles in the second half, they also relied more heavily on Robinson and the younger duo had much more success sparking the Jaguars offense. The combination of the future looks like it's also the better combination of the present.