Times-Union sports columnist Gene Frenette grades the Jaguars’ performance against the Indianapolis Colts based on production, effort and game circumstances.
A - minus The Jaguars reversed the formula of being a run-dependent team and successfully attacked the Colts’ suspect secondary, which has struggled all year and had CB Pierre Desir leave the game with an injury. QB Blake Bortles looked like an All-Pro for the first three quarters, ultimately completing 26 of 35 passes for 309 yards and two TDs. Bortles was on point with his throws and decision-making. He made a perfect fade throw to Keelan Cole for an 8-yard TD, and also dropped a bomb right into his hands down the left sideline. Though RB Leonard Fournette looked like he had a better burst on some carries, he was limping late and managed just 57 yards on 20 attempts. Despite leading the NFL in rushing, the Jaguars’ running game has diminished the past month.
A-minus It was going to be tough to duplicate the last meeting with the talent-challenged Colts’ offense when the Jaguars sacked Jacoby Brissett 10 times for minus-64 yards in a 27-0 shutout, but Todd Wash’s unit gave it a go. CB Jalen Ramsey and S Tashaun Gipson each had interceptions, giving the secondary 13 picks on the season. They also collected four sacks. The only bad play was giving Brissett too much time on a 40-yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton, who was wide open against zone coverage and outran Barry Church to the end zone. Frank Gore had success on the ground (13 carries, 61 yards), lifting him to fifth all-time in NFL career rushing with 13,697 yards.
A-minus For the third time this season, the Jaguars pulled off a successful fake punt that led to a touchdown. P Brad Nortman turned into a quarterback and threw an easy pass to a wide open TE James O’Shaugnessy down the seam for a 29-yard gain to the Colts 22 on the Jaguars’ first possession. That set up a Bortles 4-yard TD pass to Marqise Lee, the seventh time this season the Jaguars scored on their opening drive. Josh Lambo converted all three of his field goals (30, 23 and 39 yards), giving him 13 of 14 for the season. Peyton Thompson downed a punt at the Indy 4 by jumping in the air and flipping the ball backwards. One PAT kick never got off because Colin Holba had a low snap to holder Nortman.
AThis was an ideal matchup on both sides of the ball for the Jaguars and they took full advantage of it from the start. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett played it smart by attacking the Colts’ depleted secondary and 30th-ranked pass defense. Instead of trying to revitalize a dormant run game with Fournette, the Jaguars were able to jump out to a 24-3 lead by mostly riding the right arm of Bortles, who had one of the best days of his career against a defense he has typically carved up. Coach Doug Marrone successfully challenged a pass interference penalty against A.J. Bouye, insisting the ball was tipped at the line. The review showed Malik Jackson indeed tipped the pass.