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Jacksonville Jaguars

Blake Bortles Crushes Jaguars chance at Victory against Steelers

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

GAME RECAP

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers faced off today at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Florida.

The Jaguars would start off the game with the ball and just when things seemed to be going well, they faltered. Blake Bortles and the Jaguars would gain one first down and end up punting after a poor Bortles ball bounced off T.J. Yeldon’s face/hands falling incomplete.

The Jaguars defense fared better forcing the Steelers to go three-and-out on their very first drive of the day. A great stop by Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones who started over Malik Jackson today. One issue with this team is discipline, and that showed on the Steelers second drive of the day when Yannick Ngakoue was flagged for unnecessary roughness after a gain of one.

The Jaguars offense would drive down the field for nearly nine minutes on the back of their running game. 15 plays with 14 running plays. This is Jaguars football and what they are supposed to do best. Unfortunately, Tyler Shatley was called for a hold during the drive and it stalled. Josh Lambo would kick a 48-yard go-ahead field goal. 3-0 Jaguars after a quarter and change. The Jaguars defense would also get back to what they do best. Just straight up great defense as Jalen Ramsey and D.J. Hayden would have key pass breakups to force the Steelers in yet another three-and-out.

Jaguars offense back out on the field and they were able to run the ball straight down the Steelers throat for yet another Jaguars field goal. 6-0 Jaguars. So far Fournette would have 61 yards on the day. This is only six minutes into the second quarter.

Here come the Jaguars. All-Pro Cornerback who was subject to trade rumors this morning is having himself a day. He picks off Ben Roethlisberger who was throwing to Antonio Brown deep down the middle of the field. This led to yet another Jaguars field goal by Mr. Automatic, Josh Lambo. 9-0 Jaguars.

After another three-and-out forced by the Jaguars defense, the Jaguars offense got cute and threw two passes, taking one sack. This would allow the Steelers to get the ball back, however, on the very next play, Big Ben throws yet another interception, this time to Barry Church.

Unfortunately, the Jaguars quarterback woes continued, and they threw the ball yet again. Unable to capitalize after Blake Bortles threw 3 ducks in a row, including one out of bounds with the Steelers out of timeouts.

This tweet puts the Jaguars last two drives before halftime into perspective.

The Jaguars would pick up on defense right where they left off as they would force yet another three-and-out to open the second half.

The Steelers bet against the Jaguars in their opening drive after accepting a holding call which negated a three-and-out and won. They were able to force a fumble on Blake Bortles which was recovered by Jermey Parnell. The Jaguars would punt anyways, and the Steelers gained at least 10 yards of field position.

The refs came to play on the very next drive for the Steelers. After a great Myles Jack interception, it would be called back due to a very questionable roughing the passer call on Calais Campbell. On the very next play, Telvin Smith is called for an unnecessary toughness which was also questionable.

When you have a superstar on your team you can count on him to make big plays in key moments. Jalen Ramsey is a superstar, and that’s exactly what he did on this drive when he blanketed Antonio Brown which led to his second interception of the game.

Speaking of superstars, the next Jaguars possession was all number 27. Leonard Fournette took the Jaguars offense basically on his back down for a 2-yard leaping touchdown. Fournette had 21 touches for 133 yards thus far in the game.

All good things must come to an end and the Jaguars finally blew a coverage deep for a 78-yard touchdown to Antonio Brown. Gipson was seemingly the man responsible for the coverage miscue.

The Jaguars would get the ball back in Steelers territory thanks to a Westbrook punt return to the 40-yard line. Unfortunately, two sacks later the Jaguars were forced to punt. The Jaguars defense would continue their trend of not allowing the Steelers into the red zone but once in the entire game, however, the Jaguars run offense had come to a halt.

The Steelers would go down and score on the back of Roethlisberger and the Steelers passing offense. Vance McDonald would end up scoring a touchdown on Telvin Smith and Tashaun Gipson in the back of the end zone. 16-13 Jaguars.

The Jaguars got the ball back but proceeded to do nothing with it for a fourth straight three-and-out. It would be up to the Jaguars defense yet again to secure this victory. In a heartbreaking defeat, the Jaguars would allow Big Ben to score a game-winning touchdown after what looked to be a game-saving interception get called back due to a facemask.

20-16 Jaguars final.

THREE PLAYS OF THE GAME

  • Jalen Ramsey amazing interception #1
    Jalen Ramsey made an incredible interception early in the game for the Jaguars. Although the Jaguars would go on to lose, it was easily the Superstar’s best game.
  • Leonard Fournette TD
    Leonard Fournette was the only Jaguars offensive player to make any plays this week. He accounted for 141 yards and one touchdown on 30 touches today.
  • Yannick Ngakoue gets a sack
    The Jaguars pass rush has been completely decimated by opposing teams’ offensive lines all season. Fortunately, the Jaguars were able to get a couple of sacks including this one by Ngakoue which came at an opportune time. 

JAGUARS PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Jalen Ramsey

Ramsey is your Jaguars player of the game. The Jaguars offense, specifically Blake Bortles, made his performance all for not. The Jaguars superstar had two interceptions and allowed very few yards on the entire day. All for not.

FINAL WHISTLE

This is a game you can place solely on Blake Bortles and the Jaguars passing game. His abysmal play directly led to the defeat by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and there is very little room to debate. The Jaguars run offense early in the game could not be stopped by the Steelers, however, they made a few adjustments and forced the Jaguars to pass.

That is where everything went wrong. Blake Bortles would be sacked 6 times, including the last snap of the game and he made terrible decisions throughout. The Jaguars defense had the Jaguars in this game the entire way and only a play or two difference, they could have one it for them. Although many will point to this game as the Jaguars defense finally getting it right at the end of the day the Jaguars anchor of a quarterback held them back once again.

The Jaguars are now 3-7 with little to no shot at the playoffs and will face the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo next week.

Demetrius Harvey is the lead editor for the Locked on Jaguars website covering breaking news, breakdowns, and more. You can follow him at @Demetrius82 on twitter.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Texans: Five observations, red zone issues remain

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws under pressure from the Houston Texans defensive line men during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) will be left with a lot to work on during their bye week. There was plenty to gather from the team’s 26-3 loss against the Houston Texans (6-3) in London.

1. Jaguars red-zone woes are still prevalent and have no fix in sight

In the red zone this season, the Jaguars have completed 34.5% (10/29) of their opportunities for touchdowns.  This ranks only better than the Cincinnati Bengals (33.33%) in the entire NFL.

While quarterback play is an issue in this area, the Jaguars have not made the most of their play-call opportunities either. The Jaguars entered the Houston Texans’ red zone only twice in 11 drives on Sunday.

During the two drives in the red zone, the Jaguars completed 0 passes and ran the ball one other time with Leonard Fournette for three yards. Simply not good enough.

Jaguars’ offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has spoken about the team’s ineffectiveness on red zone opportunities. “We moved the football well, but we need to do a better job in the red zone,” DeFilippo said on Thursday following the team’s week seven victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. “I need to do a better job of helping our guys get open. We need to do a better job executing and being more detailed and throwing the ball on time and all of those things. Again, all of that starts with me, and I will do a better job with that.”

Two weeks later and the team’s struggles have continued.

2. Gardner Minshew might take a backseat

Already discussed, the Jaguars might be in for a quarterback change coming out of their week 10 bye week. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew struggled mightily in Sunday’s game, and head coach Doug Marrone will have a tough decision to make.

Although Minshew was playing with a sore right shoulder, he was able to practice in full all week leading up to their matchup at Wimbley. Regardless, the Jaguars will have to make a decision, and everything points to Nick Foles being the team’s starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts in week 11.

Now completely Minshew’s fault, his struggles in the red zone have been evident for the past several weeks. Foles — during the 2017 and 2018 seasons when he started for the Philidelphia Eagles — was efficient in the red zone, which could point to his maturity as a passer more than anything.

The Jaguars will want to see what they can get out of their veteran quarterback, and there is a reason to believe the Jaguars’ head coach is leaning in this direction. If Foles is not named the starting quarterback next Sunday, it is very likely the veteran will never start for this Jaguars team, at least not under the current staff.

3. Jaguars’ run-defense regressed

Without starting nickel corner D.J. Hayden and SAM linebacker Leon Jacobs, the Jaguars were forced to remain in their nickel package for much of the day. Rookie cornerback Breon Borders replaced Hayden in the starting lineup and while he was not the reason why the run defense suffered, not having a competent linebacker on the strong side of the ball impacted the team greatly.

Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde gashed the Jaguars’ defense 19 times for 160 yards during Sunday’s matchup. Part of the reason why the Jaguars were unable to stop the Texans’ running game late was the sheer amount of plays the Texans ran to begin the game.

In the first quarter, the Texans ran 20 total plays while the Jaguars offense was only able to produce nine total plays.

4. Jaguars cannot rely on penalties, but two changed the course of the game

While the Jaguars should not, and cannot rely on penalties, the team had two costly controversial calls in the third quarter of Sunday’s matchup.

With an opportunity to score, Minshew threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass to Jaguars’ receiver DJ Chark Jr. who was able to haul in the pass but was called for offensive pass interference. A few plays later the Jaguars would botch a field goal attempt and give the Texans the football at the 50-yard line.

Following the change of possession, Jaguars’ defensive end Calais Campbell was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Specifically, Campbell was called for lowering his head to initiate contact with a defenseless rusher. The Texans would net only a field goal on this drive, but it was a potential 10-point swing as Chark’s interference call was questionable, and Campbell did not even touch Watson on the play.

5. Keelan Cole shines in Dede Westbrook’s absence

Although the Jaguars clearly missed their 1B receiver in Dede Westbrook, rarely-utilized receiver Keelan Cole was able to step up to the plate and put on his best performance of the season, and possibly since 2017.

While it was not sensational, Cole hauled in five out of six of his targets for 80 yards on the day. The Jaguars could not get anything going down the field, however, Cole was able to get open on routine crossing routes.

In the coming weeks, look for Cole to have a bigger role in the Jaguars offense, especially with veteran receiver Chris Conley playing so up-and-down (2 receptions on 7 targets for 32 yards).

DeFilippo recently spoke about Cole and understands the third-year receiver may be frustrated with his snap count.

“I am proud of the way he stayed in it and even though he has not gotten the playing time,” DeFilippo said after the Jaguars victory over Bengals. “Everyone wants to play every snap. I’m sure he wants [more playing time]. He has done a great job staying in it.”

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars to make tough decision next week, Minshew Mania over for now

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass in the first half against the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) were embarrassed early Sunday morning via a 26-3 loss to the rival Houston Texans (6-3). Minshew-Mania may be over for now, but it won’t be the last time the rookie sensation starts for the team.

To put it simply, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew did not play well at all yesterday. Completing 27/47 (57%) of his passes for 309 yards, two interceptions, and two fumbles lost, Minshew looked lost during the second half of the game on Sunday.

Minshew has been everything the team could have hoped for — and much more — out of a sixth-round quarterback, but between what transpired yesterday, and a few of his past performances — against winning teams –, the Jaguars will likely see what they can get out of veteran quarterback Nick Foles.

For three quarters, Minshew looked okay. While there was plenty that went wrong, the rookie was able to make key throws, during key situations. One play, in particular, stands out. With a little over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Jaguars could not seem to get anything going before Minshew scrambles around and eventually finds a wide-open Ryquell Armstead in the middle of the field. Armstead would take the ball 31 yards and set the team up for their only points of the game.

Minshew’s ability to improvise has been his bread and butter this season, and although he was not able to work his magic often against the Texans, these were the types of plays that gave pause in the Minshew/Foles debate.

During the fourth quarter, the Jaguars and Minshew were forced to take more shots downfield in a sort of desperation move while trailing 19-3. Although playcalling can certainly be questioned, the decision making of the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback was equally perplexing. Throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles, Minshew had no chance at making a little magic to lead the team to another come-from-behind victory.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be forced to make a decision on his quarterback, but not right now. After the game, Marrone indicated he will wait until the Sunday before the team returns from their week 10 bye week to talk to both quarterbacks.

“I think after those 48 hours are over, I’m going to step away a little bit, take a break because I don’t have to make a decision and have time,” Marrone said shortly after the game when asked about making the quarterback decision. “That’s what I’m going to talk to the quarterbacks about, and then I’ll tell them probably right before we come back on Sunday, we’ll be able to discuss where we’re going to go. That’s pretty much my plan.”

While Minshew did not have a great game yesterday, the decision will be made on more than just one game, Marrone said.

The Jaguars’ head coach is stuck with an incredibly tough decision. At 4-5, the team needs a spark. The Jaguars need to win down the stretch and having to rely on a rookie — still going through ups and downs — is exhausting. While Foles may not be “the answer”, he is the only other option at this moment, and the Jaguars absolutely believe in the veteran.

Although this may be the end of Minshew starting in Jacksonville this season, his achievements — 188/307 (61%) completions for 2,285 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions — should not go unnoticed. The team absolutely still believes in the rookie quarterback, and he has a golden opportunity — if not this season — next year to prove everyone wrong.

One of the best, most fun performances out of a Jaguars’ quarterback over the first half of the season ever, is nothing to get upset about. Minshew provided spectators with Minshew-Mania, Minshew-Magic, and any other Minshew-ism one can think of.

For now, it is very likely Foles will make his Jaguars’ debut once again after breaking his left clavicle during the opening game of the season. In 11 plays this season Foles completed five out of eight of his passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.

It may be over for now, but this is just the beginning, and having the problem of deciding between a former Superbowl MVP and a rookie sensation at quarterback is a good thing. Depending on how Foles plays — if he is to be named the starter next Sunday –, Minshew could get yet another opportunity as the Jaguars progress from their 4-5 record.

Bonus clip:

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars fail to seize opportunity in London, falling 26-3 to Houston Texans

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rushes for a first down during the first half of the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) fell to Houston Texans (6-3) in a disappointing pre-bye week game in London, England. The Jaguars absolutely did not have home-field advantage on the day. 

The Jaguars took to their annual London voyage with a lot of optimism, however, all of that optimism was quickly quieted by the Houston Texans (6-3) as they were able to bottle up Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars, holding the team to just three points on the day.  The Texans would win 26-3 and kill any chances the Jaguars may have had at earning the division title in a few weeks.

To begin the game, the Jaguars opted to start out on defense with the Texans struggling early on in games this season. Holding the Texans to just three points to start the game, the Jaguars defense showed up big, especially as Jaguars’ cornerback A.J. Bouye shadowed Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who finished with just eight receptions for 48 yards. The Jaguars seemed to find a groove early on during the first half of the game, but their inability to score in the red zone reared it’s head yet again.

In what is likely his last game starting for the Jaguars this season — at least for now — Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed just 27 out of 47 of his passes for 309 yards and two interceptions. Minshew also fumbled the football two times near the end of the game, which would ultimately end it at Wembley stadium.

While the Jaguars defense played well early on, they stood no chance against Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson who completed 22 out of 28 of his passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Extremely elusive, Watson was able to escape from the Jaguars pass rushers all day long. The Texans effectively ended any chance of the Jaguars coming back after Watson completed a long throw to Hopkins for 21 yards to the Jaguars’ one-yard line. The Texans would score on a one-yard run by Duke Johnson putting the team up 19-3 late in the third quarter.

All four of Minshew’s turnovers would come in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars attempted to climb back in the game. Missing their second-most targetted wide receiver in Dede Westbrook, the Jaguars and Minshew couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game.

The Jaguars’ run game was equally disappointing today as running back Leonard Fournette could only edge out 40 yards on 11 rushes.

Perhaps the best play of the game by the Jaguars’ defense, near the end of the game Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde sprinted free and was looking to go into the endzone when Jaguars’ safety Jarrod Wilson showed incredible hustle to force a fumble at the last second, turning the ball over to the Jaguars’ offense.

The good fortune wouldn’t last long, however, as Minshew would go on to throw his final interception of the game to completely seal the game for the Texans offense.

The Jaguars’ offense simply did not get anything going today, similar to their game against the New Orleans Saints in week six earlier this year. Minshew was sacked only four times on the day as the Texans did not want him to escape the pocket.

The team will have a very tough decision to make during their week 10 bye week. Ultimately, the team will need to decide between veteran quarterback Nick Foles or the rookie quarterback in Minshew.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be making the decision, and after falling 26-3 today largely due to the play of the team’s quarterback, it may be a no-brainer.

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