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Jaguars Blown out, Bortles comes in
The Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) were down 30-0 to the Indianapolis Colts (1-2) at halftime. Yes, halftime.
The Colts scored on all six of their first half drives and the Jaguars went 3 and out on their first three possessions. The Jaguars finished the first half with a fumble by Mike Brown that led to a 7 yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Coby Fleener. Needless to say, the outcome was not in doubt.
The fans were subjected to an offense that seemed to be going through the motions to allow the defense more time to 'practice' their craft on the field. The offense did not even get a first down until 8:09 left in the second quarter with a 5 yards pass from Chad Henne to Toby Gerhart. That was short lived as Henne then got sacked two plays later and the offense had to punt for the fourth time in four possessions.
Indianapolis held the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half. What this translates to is the Jaguar defense was on the field for 67% of the time in the first half. The defense is obviously trying to find their identity but it would be nice for the offense to sustain a drive in the first half to allow the defense to rest, make some corrections and come back on the field. That did not happen. Instead, you have situations such as the defense holding the Colts to a first possession field goal and then the Jaguar offense literally had the ball for two minutes and the defense had to come right back on the field.
I am not saying the defense is the best in the league, but they could be a little better with some rest. What can a team do to alleviate the time of possession issue and get their defense some rest? Can someone please raise their hand if they can help?
As the second half began, there was a weird energy coming through the stadium. As I returned to my seat, I noticed that much of the crowd was the same. Like any other NFL city, when you are down by 30 points at halftime, much of the crowd leaves. On this day in Jacksonville, surprisingly, much of the crowd stayed. Hoping for a change, I took a look at the sideline and I saw it. The rookie had his helmet on and he was jumping around like he was warming up. I, personally, had never experienced this before. A true change in an era of a football team was happening and you could feel it.
I was not in the stadium when Brunell got hurt and they brought in Leftwich (away game and the first home game as a starter for Leftwich was two weeks later). I remember when Leftwich was cut (I was coming back from my honeymoon) and Garrard started, but he started the season. The last couple of QB changes....let's just leave that alone.
This. This was different. Blake Bortles came running onto the field on September 21st to screams of adoration and, most of all, with the hopes of Jacksonville squarely on his shoulders. For his first snaps as the quarterback, he did not disappoint.
Bortles finished the game 14 of 24 for 223 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions (also ran two times for 30 yards and had another 14 yard run called back due to penalty). For comparison, Henne finished the first half 4 of 7 for 33 yards. Bortles brought a spark. He brought an energy that I have not felt since the 2007 season. And it felt great.
The signature play of the day for Bortles came on a 2nd and 7 play with 7:51 left in the third quarter. Blake does a play action bootleg to the offenses left. As he comes out of the bootleg and begins to look down field, instead of dropping down and taking the sack, he turns the other direction, rolls right and finds fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou for 26 yards. That was it for me and I think this will be what we see from now on at the quarterback position. It helps that in coach Gus Bradley's press conference immediately following the game that he announced Blake Bortles as the starter going forward.
Please understand, he is not going to come in and win 13 straight games. He is going to have growing pains that any and all rookies have. With that being said, he is going to be better than what we have seen the last seven years. His play for the second half yesterday was something Jacksonville fans have been waiting for for a long time. It is going to be fun watching these rookies grow together with this team in this offense.
I caught myself yesterday thinking Jedd Fisch was giggling like a kid in a candy store with what he has now to work with. This playbook may get used a bit more in the coming weeks.
- Blake Bortles first career touchdown pass was to Allen Hurns for 63 yards -- his second was a fake spike throw to Cecil Shorts III for 10 yards.
- Bortles had 2 interceptions, one of which was returned 47 yards for a touchdown by Greg Toler
- Last years home opener, Jacksonville scored 2 points on a blocked punt safety -- 17 points is a good number for the first home game
- Week 3 last year was a 45-17 loss in Seattle
- Jaguars broke the 100 yard mark as a team in rushing for the first time this season also averaging 5.3 yards a carry
- Total yards in the first half for the Jaguars was 55; they finished with 344 total yards
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