The Jacksonville Jaguars finally won. They go into the bye week with whatever momentum a win against a divisional opponent provides. They beat Andrew Luck, something Gus Bradley has never done. And, oh yeah, they don’t have to go through a coaching musical chairs... Gus Bradley’s job is safe.
In short, they won a game against an AFC South team, their pass rush looked the best it has since Gus Bradley took over, and their coaching staff has bought themselves at least a few more games worth of stability.
So why don’t I feel better?
I’ll start at the top: I don’t think the in-game coaching made me any more confident in Gus Bradley. If not for an injury to Dan Skuta, rookie linebacker Myles Jack still would have played special teams and sat on the bench. And if not for an injury to Jared Odrick, the team wouldn’t have run so much of their base packages with Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue both in the game. Both of those personnel changes were forced upon Gus Bradley and Todd Wash and they turned out to be pivotal in helping stop Andrew Luck.
And as far as Greg Olson, he’s the least of my worries, but I thought the play-calling left something to be desired at times. For example, on their final two drives, Olson got conservative (and a little cute, honestly). A one-yard pass to Arrelious Benn, a T.J. Yeldon stretch play, and another short pass to Marqise Lee made up the three-and-out that was the Jaguars’ second-to-last drive. Three straight runs made up the three-and-out that was the Jaguars’ last drive. Both ended in punts and both gave the Colts too much of a chance to win the game.
Speaking of the offense, Blake Bortles played very, very badly. No interceptions? Great. But his mechanics are bad, his decision-making is worse, and his penchant for boneheaded pop warner-esque plays like a pass going straight up into the air and back into his hands or a spin move three yards away from the nearest defender are just the two that come to mind right away. It was obvious he couldn’t see the field.
And Bortles’ emergency button is Allen Robinson. If Robinson is covered, he either still goes for him against better judgment or panics. Allen Hurns had just four targets all game and he bailed this team out. If not for a fluke touchdown where at least half the Colts defense whiffed on tackling him, it’s third-and-long with five minutes left in the fourth quarter with the Jaguars up just 23-20. You tell me who your money is on at that point.
The defensive miscues like a blown coverage leading to Phillip Dorsett’s long touchdown or Yannick Ngakoue covering T.Y. Hilton 15 yards down the field are forgivable. This is a team that at times had five rookies — Dante Fowler, Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day, Jalen Ramsey, and Myles Jack — on the field. Add to that free agents in Tashaun Gipson and Malik Jackson and those things will happen.
And speaking of Myles Jack, why did the coaches take him out as the game was winding down? The Colts scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, largely on the back (or arm) of Andrew Luck. Why take away one of your most athletic players who was pegged as a hybrid linebacker-defensive back? That seemed... odd.
We won. Our defensive line had six sacks, 15 pressures, and nine tackles for a loss. Jalen Ramsey shut down T.Y. Hilton for the most part. Jason Myers went three-for-three today and has missed just two kicks (including extra points) in four games. Our receiving corps was built masterfully and Marqise Lee is actually stretching the field (at times).
We won. But the cost of winning today was yet another showing of what’s glaringly obvious: this team has fundamental problems at the top and big question marks at some of its most important positions.