The Jaguars won an ugly contest that was greatly affected by the weather. Beating the Browns, the Jaguars advanced to 7-3 on the year. It may have been ugly, but in this league a win is a win. Let's take a look at what we learned Sunday.
1. Leonard Fournette is ready for the stretch run.
Jaguars star rookie running back Leonard Fournette wasn't his usual explosive self against the Chargers in week 10, which led many (including myself) to wonder if he was still recovering from an ankle injury that held him out of football for nearly a month. This week was a different story. Fournette was able to help the Jaguars dominate time of possession -- in a close game where both teams struggled to hold onto the ball due to rain and snow Fournette's efforts were key. He finished the game with 111 yards on 28 carries. Even more impressive is the fact that he did it against the Cleveland Browns who were allowing just 3.1 yards per carry entering week 11. By being a reliable source of yards for the Jags Fournette re-established himself as the most important offensive player for the Jaguars. He appears ready to finish the season strong.
2. Dede Westbrook could have a major impact on the rest of the season.
Dede Westbrook made his NFL debut against the Browns and quickly made an impact. He was targeted six times by Blake Bortles and was able to haul in three catches for 35 yards. He looked every bit as speedy as we thought he would and showed the ability to make difficult catches. In reality Westbrook caught a fourth pass, but for reasons beyond my understanding, his toe dragging fourth catch was ruled an incomplete pass. This is a player that brings a polish, even as a rookie, that no other Jaguars receivers possess. He is going to be a big factor for the Jaguars in 2017 and beyond.
3. Marcedes Lewis' resurgence is no joke.
Marcedes has been more involved with the Jaguars offense this year than he has since 2010. He's got five touchdowns on just 14 catches and has been a huge factor for the Jaguars in the red zone this season. He hasn't been perfect this year, but he has shown the skill that saw him catch a franchise record 10 touchdowns in 2010. Lewis isn't going to get huge numbers in terms of catches or yards this year, but he can have a big impact on the rest of the season if he continues to be a threat in the red zone.
4. The Jaguars defense shows the ability to bail out the offense.
The Jaguars offense did a nice job racking up over 36 minutes of possession in this one, but that effort was greatly aided by the Jaguars defense. When Blake Bortles fumbled the ball in the third quarter with the game in the balance, it was the Jaguars defense was there to pick up the slack. In total the defense forced five turnovers, picking off two passes and recovering three Browns fumbles. They also got to Browns QB DeShone Kizer five times on the day, vaulting the team to 40 total sacks on the season - good for the most in football.
5. The Jaguars offensive line needs to get healthy.
The Browns only recored two sacks, but there was quite a bit of pressure on Blake Bortles when he dropped back. And when runners not named Leonard Fournette carried the ball for the Jags it was ugly. The offensive line was missing starting RT Jermey Parnell (knee) and starting LG Patrick Omameh (quad) against the Browns. They'll need to get their starters healthy for the stretch run and what should be their first playoff birth since 2007.
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