By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire
JACKSONVILLE – At the end of the game, the spotlight suddenly shifted to Trevor Lawrence, as everyone wanted to see if the franchise quarterback had a knee injury.
Lawrence didn’t show any signs of a limp as he went access the field to exchange postgame pleasantries with the Colts players after the Jaguars 37-20 victory.
Duval nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.
But they should have a better feeling about the Jags’ defense. Don’t look at the final stat sheet because it doesn’t truly reflect their effort. Colts’ quarterback Gardner Minshew had 329 yards passing, but most of it was in garbage time.The Jags’ defense kept everything in front of them.
Look at the whole body of work from the Jags’ defense, and it was another major reason to feel good about the 4-2 first-place, AFC South Jaguars. They have reached their comfort zone, and can be the catalyst for this team.
Minshew did dink and dunk his way down the field with an effective short passing game with drops toward the sidelines as well as over the middle. The Colts marched down field and found themselves with a 3-0 lead to begin the game.
You wondered if the Jags had any hangover effects from their two-game stay in London, or if they jinxed at home, unceremoniously dropping their first two at the Bank. But then there was that eight-game Colts losing streak in Jacksonville, and it again would come back to haunt them.
Jacksonville’s defense made the adjustments, applied some pressure, and silenced “Minshew Mania,” which was a three-game winning streak as a starter in Indianapolis.
The Jags’ D registered three sacks, eight hits, nine pass deflections, and had three interceptions. They also recovered a fumble from Minshew. That’s a good day’s work.
Jacksonville easily could have had six – yes, six -picks. Devin Llyod dropped two right in his hands, and Rashawyn had one called back and dropped another one aside from his pick. Foyesade Olukon –the jags tackling machine – had 15 stops.
The Jags’ defense went into a prevent mode midway through the third quarter, and it could have cost them. Colts’ rookie head coach Shane Steichen opted to go for it twice on fourth downs, the latter one that resulted in Darious Williams picking off a Minshew pass in the end zone. On his early choice, it was questionable why the 38-year-old head coach didn’t take the points with a likely chip-shot field goal.
Aside from Minshew, the Jags limited Colts’ running back Jonathan Taylor to 19 yards on eight carries, after he has torched them in the past with his 522 career yards and six touchdowns. Overall, the Jags corralled the Colts for 44 yards rushing and showed why they are the seventh-best team against the rush this season.
Overall, it was their fifth strong performance in six games this season. The defense’s lone blemish was the home game against Houston, which has turned out to be a good team with a rookie quarterback.
The Jags have a quick turnaround with a date in New Orleans and Derrick Carr Thursday.
Carr threw for a season-high 353 yards with a touchdown, but he was picked off in the team’s final drive against those same aforementioned Texans, and the Saints fell for the third time in four games and dropped to 3-3 after a 2-0 start.
Unlike last season,the Jags’ has been present from the start, not just in the second half of the season.
While the offense continues to search for its consistency, the Jags’ defense so far has been the difference in making this club a pretender to a contender.
(SportsDay photo by Nancy DeLander Beecher/Florida Sports Wire)