This is our first installment on Victory Monday -- due to a loss of power (Thanks, Irma!) this is coming out on Tuesday instead of Monday!
Let's get to it!
I'll start with the first positive:
Blake Freaking Bortles
Was Blake Bortles a dynamic, game changer at QB in this one? No, he certainly wasn't, but what he did was exactly what he was asked to do -- that is to be a game manager. Bortles finished the game with no interceptions, no fumbles and no unnecessary risks. It may come as a shock, but Blake Bortles was the perfect game manager in this one. He looked comfortable in the pocket, rolling out, and even on a designed QB run. Now, some will point to his completion percentage as a negative in this one -- he only completed 11 of 21 attempts, however four of his incompletions were balls that should have been caught by the receiver. If you adjust Bortles' stats to reflect the 5 drops then Bortles finished 15-21 for around 200 yards, 1 TD, and ZERO INTs. Could this be a new Blake Bortles? Perhaps -- only time will tell.
Speaking of drops -- that's out first negative!
Don't get me wrong, the receivers, for the most part, played pretty well. But they did let the ball hit the turf far too often against the Texans, and in a game that is actually down to the wire drops can absolutely cripple a team's chances of winning. Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Marcedes Lewis, and Keelan Cole all dropped easy catches. That won't be acceptable moving forward.
Moving back to the more positive side of things -- we have the absolute domination by the defensive front and defense as a whole.
The Jaguars defense set a franchise record with 10 sacks! Calais Campbell set a franchise record with 4 sacks in the game! Yannick Ngakoue recorded 2 strip sacks! Dante Fowler got in on the action with a strip sack of his own and a defensive TD! Malik Jackson recorded a sack! Free agent acquisition Lerentee McCray, who was brought to Jacksonville to contribute on special teams, registered 1.5 sacks! Even the run stuffing DT Abry Jones got to the QB! Myles Jack recoded 14 tackles! Tashaun Gipson got himself an interception! Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye combined to hold DeAndre Hopkins to less than 8 yards per catch!
Have yourself a day, defense!
Now, the Jaguars won't be facing such pathetic offenses on a regular basis. The Texans were starting a QB who's never thrown a TD in the NFL, and his replacement after half time was a guy who had never played a down in the NFL. The Texans receiving core was depleted and their offensive line looks like it may be the worst in the NFL. So, the Jaguars will have much tougher tests in 2017 on the defensive side of the ball -- one of those tests comes this weekend when the Jaguars return home to take on the Titans, but we'll get to that in a later post.
Back to the negative side of things -- let's get to the elephant in the room: Allen Robinson
After making an impressive grab on the first third down of the game for the Jaguars Allen Robinson came up limping. Unfortunately for A-Rob and the Jaguars, we found out late on Sunday that the injury would be of the season ending variety -- a torn ACL. Robinson is in the final year of his deal with the Jaguars and may never play another down in Jacksonville. Of course, I find that scenario highly unlikely as the Jaguars have plenty of cap space and the franchise tag at their disposal. Still, the Jaguars will be without their best receiver and one of their offensive leaders. For a more in depth breakdown of what the A-Rob injury means for the Jaguars check out our piece on how the Jaguars are equipped to handle the Allen Robinson injury.
Our final positive was the offensive line play.
Say what you want about the Texans offense, but the Texans defense and defensive line in particular is one of the most feared units in all of football. With JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney up front the Texans are expected to be a top five defense. On the flip side of things the Jaguars offensive line entered the season with extremely low expectations -- at least outside the building. What we saw on Sunday was nothing short of shocking. Facing a fired up and emotional Houston Texans defense following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the Jaguars offensive line came out and dominated one of the very best units in the NFL. The Texans didn't sack Blake Bortles -- not even once! The pass protection was excellent, and for the most part so was the run blocking. The offensive line opened up a lot of wholes on Sunday, to the tune of 157 rushing yards, something we haven't seen them do in some time. Rookie Cam Robinson looks like he may be a corner stone piece to this offensive line.
And we'll end with our final negative: Jason Myers.
Per usual, Myers was excellent on kickoffs. But his accuracy issues reared their ugly head on Sunday. He finished the day making 3/4 field goals, but his lone miss was from inside 40 yards. He also missed a PAT. In a game like this, when the final result was never really in question, a couple of misses are easy to overlook, but when the Jaguars find themselves in close ball games they'll need to be able to rely on their kicker to make the easy ones.