JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars went to Cincinnati and forced four turnovers in a 27-17 win over the winless Bengals. Jacksonville stands at 3-4 after seven weeks of play. Here were my four biggest takeaways from the game.
1. Until Gardner Minshew — or Nick Foles — shows they are ready to carry the team through the air, the Jaguars need to ride Leonard Fournette. Against the Bengals, the worst rushing defense in the league, Fournette posted his third 100-plus yard rushing games in the last four weeks. The Jaguars offensive identity appeared to be based on Minshew Mania a few weeks ago. Now, it appears it must be built around Fournette, as we expected in the preseason.
2. The offensive line still must be better. The Jaguars had their best success in the running game when they pulled right guard Will Richardson and ran left behind him and the rest of the line on that side —Cam Robinson or Cedric Ogbuehi at left tackle and Andrew Norwell at left guard.
The pass protection was good, not great. The Jaguars struggled in the first half up front but improved in the second half. I would also like to see more push in short-yardage situations. The Jaguars failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal situation from the 1-yard line in the first half. It could have been a much different game had they scored a touchdown instead of a field goal.
3. They come in bunches. The Jaguars defense had forced only one turnover all season. But Sunday in Cincinnati, they took the ball away four times from the Bengals, including interceptions on three consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. Interceptions by Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue and Ronnie Harrison added to a first-half fumble recovery by Ronnie Harrison.
4. Now what? The Jaguars need to play better to beat the Jets next week in Jacksonville. If they can win that game, they'll head to London to face the Houston Texans with a .500 record and with a chance to get back in playoff contention. When the month of October began, we said that we would know the path of the Jaguars season by the time Halloween rolled around. That's still the case. Will it be a trick or a treat for Jaguars fans?