The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Cincinnati Bengals and showed quite a bit in their Week 9 win. What stood out the most to us?
1. The defense was dominant yet again
After shutting out the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7, the Jaguars defense came out after the bye week and put on another dominate performance against the Bengals, who had a total of 148 yards yesterday, and if you take out the somewhat fluky play to Tyler Kroft, the defense did not let the Bengals get any big yardage on them. We talk week after week at this point about how dominant the defense is, but they continue to show us that they can take it to another level.
Yes, the Bengals are not lighting anyone up on the offensive side of the ball, but this defense’s dominant performance's the last two weeks legitimizes them as easily one of the top units in the league.
2. Blake Bortles has played as well as ever the last two weeks
Many of us thought that there was no way Bortles would be starting at this point in the year during the preseason. He looked absolutely lost, and it seemed any confidence he had was shot. Bortles has had his share of struggles this year, but his performance the last two weeks has been a significant reason why the offense has been successful.
In the past two games combined, Bortles has gone 42-for-64, 589 yards, two touchdowns, and (most importantly) no interceptions. The defense has allowed the offense to work with a cushion. which I think helps Bortles a ton. However, the offense is just functioning at a higher rate this year, and while Bortles is inconsistent game to game, his play has been much better the last two weeks. The question is, can he keep it up?
3. Marcell Dareus made an impact in his first game
Though Dareus was limited in his first game as a Jaguars player, his presence was felt. According to NFL.com’s NextGenStats, Dareus has a 40 percent run stuff rate in his first game. The Bengals had struggled to run the ball this year, but it was easy to see Dareus making an impact when he was in the game. If the Jaguars can get a motivated Dareus, this defense could take another step, which is almost unimaginable.
4. Doug Marrone did the right thing by benching Leonard Fournette
I will admit, when I first heard the news I was pretty upset. My first thought was, what could be so damn important that they had to sit him for the game? Now, maybe the fact they won changed my perception a little bit, but I had a change in heart as the day went on. Fournette is obviously as talented as any player in the league, and that is going to give him a longer leash than, say, Corey Grant. Though, there is a line for every player no matter how valuable that cannot be crossed. Obviously, in the mind of Marrone, he crossed that line.
Accountability has been something discussed on this website a lot the last few years. A lot of people thought there was not enough accountability held around the team. I’d bet my bottom dollar that if Gus Bradley was still the coach, Fournette would have played.
Fournette has a longer leash, but if he was really late for meetings, and missing treatments (missing treatments is something that drives many teams up the wall, for what it is worth) then he needs to be held accountable. Fournette is only a rookie, and he will learn. Hopefully showing the rest of the team that they are not afraid to sit anyone if they don’t hold up to a certain standard, raises the accountability in this organization that it has severely lacked.
5. The team came together after the Ramsey vs. Green fight
I thought one of the most impressive things yesterday was the teams performance in the second half after the altercation. Jaguars teams of the past would have let it get in their head, or lost their discipline. The game was still only 13-7, nowhere out of reach. It could have easily been blown. Instead, the team came together, and dominated the Bengals in the second half, not letting them gain more than 50 yards the rest of the game.
Momentum and mental toughness are so hard to measure, so i usually try and stay away from analyzing it. However, the Jaguars took something that could have broken them, and used it as fuel. That is what winning teams do. If anything is a sign that times have changed for the Jaguars, maybe that is ultimately it.