JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars dominated the New York Jets for most of the game Sunday in a 31-12 Jacksonville win. The Jaguars were never challenged by the Jets. The only drama was whether the Jets would score a touchdown, which they finally did in the fourth quarter. Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game.
When Blake Bortles is good, he’s very good
Twice this year, the Jaguars offense has looked like a championship unit, in games against New England and the Jets. Twice, the offense has struggled, and with it, Bortles has as well. It’s not all on the quarterback, but when he is on his game, as he was Sunday against the Jets, he has been very good. Bortles completed his first 11 passes Sunday and finished 29 of 38 for a career-high 388 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.. If Bortles can put together a string of games that are anywhere near his performances against the Patriots and Jets, the Jaguars will be tough to beat.
The Jaguars defense doesn’t need much from the offense
Jacksonville entered the game having allowed the fewest touchdowns in the NFL. They still lead that category. There should not be much pressure on the Jaguars’ offense to have big games. Most of the time, two touchdowns will be more than enough for the Jaguars to be competitive. The only way the Jaguars were going to lose the game in the second half Sunday was via self-inflicted wounds, like penalties and turnovers. There will come a time that the Jaguars need to pick up a handful of first downs or mount one more scoring drive to win. That won’t be the case every week, but even against better teams, the Jaguars defense is going to have the advantage. The offense just has to be OK to win.
Dede Westbrook is finding his role
Last year as a rookie, wide receiver Westbrook missed the first half of the season and then showed sporadic flashes in the second half of the year. This season, there were expectations that he would show a big leap forward. In the first half, Westbrook was Bortles’ favorite target when he caught six passes for 89 yards. The Jaguars are in dire need of a consistent, big-play threat. Perhaps Westbrook can develop into that this season.
Injuries are becoming a concern
If the Jaguars are going to make a deep run, they’ll have to do something they didn’t have to do much last year: fight through injuries to starters. Leonard Fournette, who returned to the lineup for the first time since pulling a hamstring in the opener, ran the ball 11 times before leaving the game with a re-aggravation of the hamstring. Center Brandon Linder left the game in the first half with a back injury. With starting left tackle Cam Robinson out for the season and right guard AJ Cann having missed last week's game, the Jaguars offensive line depth is on the verge of being an issue. Josh Wells has played well in relief of Robinson and Tyler Shatley filled in for Linder at center. Chris Reed, who started for Cann last week, was inactive this week. It’s an area to keep an eye on.