1. A most unlikely hero
The Jaguars took down the Bears on Sunday thanks in large part to a heroic play from one of the most unlikely players on the team. Arrelious Benn is 28 years old, but most of his career has been taken by injuries. After being a second round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Benn had several quality seasons in Tampa as a young receiver. Then, the injury bug bit Benn and hard. For the better part of his career he's dealt with significant injuries. But in week 6 of the 2016 NFL season, Benn got his redemption. With under three minutes left in the game the Jaguars were trailing by 6 when Arrelious Been caught a pass from Blake Bortles and fell to the ground. After he fell to the ground he quickly got back to his feet, realized that no defender had touched him, and raced to the end zone for a most unlikely 51 yard game winning TD. Over the past two weeks the Jaguars have found ways to win, thanks in large part to clutch plays like this one.
2. Jalen Freaking Ramsey
Everyone knew coming out of college that Jalen Ramsey was a freak athlete. What people didn't know is just how quickly he would adjust to the NFL game. For the better part of the season now Ramsey has been lining up primarily against the other team's best receiver. This week he had his biggest test yet (literally). He was matched up with the ultra physical Alshon Jeffery. There's no question Jeffery got the better of Ramsey for most of the first half. But in half number two if was a different story. Jeffery was limited to one catch in the second half and was straight up beat by Jalen Ramsey on the most important play of the game. It was 4th and 10 for the Bears, who were trailing by 1 with time winding down in the 4th quarter. Ramsey and Jeffery lined up against each other on the most important of plays, Hoyer looked Jeffrey's way, but Alshon had no shot at the ball. Ramsey blanketed the Pro Bowl receiver and nearly came up with his first interception as a pro. Ramsey has talked the talk all year, but he's also shown that he can walk the walk.
3. Yannick Ngakoue
Yannick Ngakoue is in some seriously rare company. He now has 4 sacks in the first five games of his career. He's the first Jaguar pass rusher EVER to get 4 sacks in his first 5 games. Not only that, but he leads all rookies in sacks and forced fumbles. Amongst all players he's tied for 15th in sacks, and tied for 1st in forced fumbles. The bottom line is he is having a major impact on every game. Sure, he's not yet great against the run, and he doesn't get pressure every team the QB drops back (no pass rushers do), but he's making impact plays in every game and showing the potential to be one of the most explosive pass rushers in the game. Props to you Yannick Ngakoue.
4. The offense is still struggling
Yeah, the Jaguars have won two straight games, but something still isn't right with the offense. After the first drive of the game the Jaguars failed to get another first down until the 3rd quarter. Yikes. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns can't seem to both put together a good game on the same day, while Blake Bortles still struggles with consistency. The running game is abysmal, with little to no blocking the runners are getting eaten alive. So why can't the Jaguars offense find consistency? That's perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding this young Jaguars team. Is Bortles in over his head? Is the poor offensive line play to blame? Are the receivers not getting open? The truth is, it's probably a combination of all of these things and more. Bortles hasn't had time in the pocket, but that's nothing new for him. The offensive line didn't open holes for the runners last year either, but the Jags were still able to put up points. The Jaguars offense has many problems and needs to fix them quickly. Each of their next 3 contest comes against teams that are currently .500 or better. This 3 game stretch will decide whether or not the Jaguars can make a run at the AFC South crown, and the offense will need to be able to put up points. For now, they can find solace in the fact that they got it done when it mattered most, scoring 17 4th quarter points and keeping their playoff chances alive.
5. The defense isn't
For all the struggles on the offensive side of the ball, things have been quite the opposite for the defense as of late. The Jaguars defense gave up only 1 TD to the Bears. This week it was a bit of bend but don't break, as they gave up 3 field goals. After trailing 10-0 at the break the defense really tightened up and got it done when it mattered most. It wasn't a perfect effort by any stretch of the imagination, but when you go on the road and hold a team to 16 points in the NFL, and only 6 in the second half, it's something to be proud of. This defense is loaded with young talent that seems to be growing together week in and week out. In the last 3 games they've given up 20 or more points only once - They'll need to have a herculean effort next Sunday if they hope to hold the high octane Raiders offense to under 20.
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