JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars shocked the NFL world with an opening day win over the Colts, 27-20, to take an early lead in the AFC South. Here were my four biggest takeaways from the game:
Perhaps the most important storyline this season will be the play of the Jaguars quarterback. In the opener, Minshew was razor sharp, completing 19 of 20 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, earning a quarterback rating of 142.3. He looked like a player in cool command of the new offense.
He spread the ball around. Minshew became the fourth player in league history to throw three touchdown passes and complete 90% or more of his passes, joining Drew Breese, Philip Rivers and Marcus Mariota.
Ten different Jaguars caught passes, and he settled into a rhythm in the second quarter.
After the first two Jaguars possessions resulted in punts, here’s how the rest of the game went for Minshew and company: touchdown, touchdown, punt, field goal, touchdown, field goal, victory formation. You can’t ask for much more from a first game.
New offense shows some creativity
With new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden calling the plays, we saw some creative use of players, especially rookie receiver Laviska Shenault. It was clear that the Jaguars were not completely confident in the offensive line’s pass blocking.
Most of the passes were underneath. The longest pass play for the Jaguars was a 28-yard completion to rookie running back James Robinson, who took a swing pass and hurdled his way to a huge gain.
The longest pass to a receiver was the 22-yard touchdown to Keelan Cole that proved to be the game winner. West Coast offenses typically rely on the short passing game and the Jaguars certainly did that on Sunday.
Rookies made plays
Just about everywhere you looked, the Jaguars rookies were making plays. In the first half, Robinson ran for 61 yards.
Shenault caught a touchdown, Collin Johnson caught a pass in the middle of the field that converted a third down. C.J. Henderson had a key interception and knocked away a pass on the final defensive play of the game for the Jaguars.
K’Lavon Chaisson had an interception that was called back by penalty. Third-round pick DaVon Hamilton added a pair of tackles. Seventh-round pick Chris Claybrooks make three tackles.
On a team with 16 rookies on the active roster, 14 of whom were active on gameday, the Jaguars will need defenses to make a difference. On Sunday, they did.
Too bad for capacity restrictions
While the Jaguars were the only team in the NFL playing today who allowed fans in the stadium. Still, only 14,100 fans were announced as the paid attendance. It’s a shame.
This was the kind of game that Jaguars fans deserved to enjoy after the last two years. Heck, after the last 12 of 13 years, they deserved it. It was a great way to start the season. Now, the challenge will be to ensure that this kind of game isn’t an anomaly.