JACKSONVILLE – The point here was to lay the foundations.
That’s the first thing Jaguars defense attorneys told you about the closure of the NFL’s leading rusher — that it was about simple things, basic things. But there are also difficult things.
However, the Jaguars’ running defense was a remarkably effective thing on Sunday.
“We’ve all worked on that [week in] train,” said outside linebacker Josh Allen.
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, the NFL’s leading rusher last season, rushed for 54 yards on nine carries at TIAA Bank Field in the Jaguars’ 24-0 win on Sunday. Stymying Taylor put on one of the Jaguars’ most dominant defensive plays in recent memory, helping the Jaguars to their first shutout since a 6-0 home win over the Colts on December 2, 2018.
Taylor’s longest run: a 21-yarder late in the third quarter with the Jaguar leading 24-0. He rushed 33 yards with eight other carries.
“They did a great job,” Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said of the Jaguars’ defense. “It’s not what you see on the tape. It’s all about us. It’s about being physical and just understanding staying disciplined in your running bouts and your eye discipline at things.
“Our guys did a great job, just rallied to the ball and got it on the ground. It was a focus for us this week in training and [it’s] just credit for how hard our guys worked to understand the run and then eliminate it.
Allen explained the keys to the performance, and Pederson repeated: “Keep in gap, do what you have to do for your quests, take care of your little details, do what you have to do and we will win this game. We played games and walked off the field when we had to.”
Added to all: “It’s everyone doing their job. Everyone has a responsibility in defense and fulfills their responsibility. We knew what they would do. They had a couple of guys out there (wide receivers Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce). We knew they were going to give it to their best player.
“We knew that, and they should, too. But it would be a hat on a hat. And it would be a fight beforehand. We won that fight.”
- The Jaguars registered three interceptions Sunday, giving them six takeaways for the season with just a giveaway. That’s in sharp contrast to last season, when the Jaguars had a takeaway-giveaway ratio of minus 29 — the worst in the NFL.
- “We’re thinking takeaways,” Allen said. “It’s our thing. We think about them at home, we think about them in training and we think about them in the game. So when it matters most, it’s there. We want to put the ball back on offense.” . We want to win the line of scrimmage. We want to dominate the game. I think we managed to do that today.”
- Jaguar quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 25 of 30 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns without interceptions Sunday, perhaps the most efficient performance of his 19-game NFL career.
- “Sixteen was 16 today,” said tight end Evan Engram. “He’s been working on every phase of his game since training camp. Today was just the full package of what he can be and what that offense can be.”
- Lawrence said Sunday’s overall performance “just validates what we’re doing here, what we’re building – the people that we have, including coaches and players. This confirms that we are on the right track. We are where we want to be. We have to keep getting better and I’m confident we will, but it really just validates what we’re doing. It’s fun when it comes together and it was great.
- Allen on the Jaguars’ first shutout in almost four seasons: “We set the standard for ourselves. This is our standard. That’s what we knew we could do last week. But we didn’t do it ?’ So are we. This is how we play defense. That’s how we run to the ball. That’s how we create turnovers. That’s how we get to quarterback. That’s how we get pressure. That’s how we play. We have to keep playing like this. We can’t just do small pushes. We have to be dominant.”
- Returning James Robinson: “It feels good. Not being able to win in the past few years feels good to just get one. Now we have to go out there and get more.”