The Jacksonville Jaguars are solely atop the AFC South and multiple games over .500.
After a 37-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Jags are 4-2 and look to be hitting a solid stride ahead of a short week game on Thursday.
Here are your winners and losers from an interesting Week 6 matchup:
Defense, yet again
The 2023 Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive unit leads the league in takeaways. No, your eyes do not deceive you.
The unit of the Jags that most everyone thought was going to be the worst, is leading the NFL in turnovers through six weeks with 15 turnovers created.
Against former Jaguars Gardner Minshew, the Jags turned over the mustached-man four times.
Minshew fumbled once and threw three picks and for what it’s worth, linebacker Devin Lloyd dropped two picks while wearing a cast, Foye Oluokun dropped one and one interception was called back. Minshew looked awful all day, and it was almost all due to the Jaguars’ defensive plan for him.
Rayshawn Jenkins, Andre Cisco and Darious Williams all snagged picks. In three straight games, Williams has now recorded an interception and he recorded his first pick of his career in his home city of Jacksonville.
Angelo Blackson fell on Josh Allen’s strip sack early in the game, and has now recovered three fumbles this year. Blackson and T.J. Watt are the only players in the NFL this year to have three fumble recoveries.
The Jags unit overall has been a machine at taking the ball away, and now have three or more takeaways in four games this season.
The team may have more takeaways than sacks (12), but it seems to be working.
The defense also held the Colts to just 44 rushing yards a week after the Colts ran for 193.
Holding a divisional opponent to six points through three quarters and change is an excellent accomplishment, and the Jags defense shined yet again on Sunday.
No one ever seems to give Travis Etienne the love he deserves, but man, he is playing solid football.
Etienne finished his day with 55 rushing yards and two scores, to go along with 28 yards receiving. His two touchdowns outpaced the entire Colts’ offensive production for most of Sunday’s game.
This year, Etienne has 451 total rushing yards and five rushing TDs. Last year, he only had five rushing scores all season. The third-year player also has not put the ball on the ground once this year, compared to three fumbles a season ago.
Etienne has only broken 100 yards once this year, but even with under a 100 rushing yards, it still feels like he is in control in the run game.
The Jags have been riding him this season and it has worked beautifully. Even with spotty offensive line play, Etienne is making the most of his touches. He is a guy that seems to always fall forward, picking up an extra yard or two. Those types of plays are difference makers in a game, and Etienne is proving to be one of the NFL’s top difference makers in terms of running backs.
It was another solid, not spectacular, day for the Jags’ offense.
Trevor Lawrence finished his morning with just 181 yards passing, but had two touchdowns. His late interception seemingly was on a miscommunication with Christian Kirk.
Lawrence still has one or two plays a game that make you gasp — see back-to-back weeks of trying to avoid a sack with a shovel pass — but the offense is clicking nonetheless.
Kirk led the team in receptions with 49 and a score. Tight end Evan Engram continued his dominant streak over the Colts with seven catches for 41 yards.
Even Brenton Strange got in on the action, almost housing a screen before catching his first touchdown of his career. He finished with 27 yards receiving.
Lawrence was kept mostly upright by the mismatched offensive line, taking three sacks and five registered hits.
Nothing the Jags are doing on offense is particularly flashy right now, but it is solid and it is working. The 37 points the team scored is a season-high however, and the second most points scored in the NFL by teams in the early slot or in London.
Be still my beating heart.
With time winding down in the fourth, Lawrence was still in the game and got rolled up during a sack. We all saw it. Should he have fallen way earlier, maybe. Should he even be in the game, maybe.
But Lawrence got medical attention, walked off the field and did his postgame interviews. His knee has now been a topic in multiple weeks this season, and will be the center of discussion ahead of Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
At this point in time, only time will tell what will come of it.
#Jaguars HC Doug Pederson says “no update” on QB Trevor Lawrence (knee).— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) October 15, 2023
In other injury news, Tyson Campbell left the game on a punt-safe return with a hamstring tweak. He did not return to the game, being replaced by Montaric Brown. To Brown’s credit, he played decently, but is a steep drop off from Campbell.
Lineman Brandon Scherff also left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. He walked it off, but did not return.
While the blowout win is well and good, three key starters got injured or re-aggravated previous injuries. Not ideal on a short week, but nothing to do now other than wait.
Fourth quarter execution
While trying to play safe and get the game over with, the Jaguars looked really beatable.
Minshew led a scoring drive late in the third, and finally punched the ball into the end zone to start the fourth.
Following that drive, the Jags threw a pick, punted and kicked two long field goals before kneeing out the game.
The defense did snag a pick, and stopped the Colts on fourth twice, but it seemed like things could have gotten out of control late. Williams’ interception even came in the end zone, on a black-footed throw by Minshew. This game could have been a lot closer.
Add on top of that the Lawrence injury, the Jags did not close out this game in the cleanest way possible.
In the fourth, the Jags somehow netted -9 yards while scoring six points. Not exactly a recipe for sustained success but things do get muddy when you are just trying to kill a game.