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Film Room: Why Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue deserves to be paid

Brandon Carroll



Dec 2, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) motions to the fans during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

A big Jaguars storyline headed into the offseason break within the NFL is the looming contract negotiation between premier pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue and the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Ngakoue burst onto the scene after being drafted in the third round by the Jaguars in the 2016 draft. He quickly asserted himself into the competition for a starting role with Dante Fowler Jr. — a former 1st round pick and a guy the Jaguars looked at as a perennial defensive end from his days at Florida. 

Due to Fowler struggling to climb back his ACL tear during his rookie season, Ngakoue took advantage of the opportunity of being on a level playing field with Fowler when he touched down in Jacksonville. 

Soon after, Ngakoue took the starting defensive end spot and never looked back. 

In the 2018 season, Ngakoue recorded 25 tackles and 9.5 sacks for a Jacksonville team that disappointed not only their fans but many of those around the league. After a quick start to the season, they hit a wall and began to roll downhill. 

Throughout all of the ups and downs in Ngakoue’s first three seasons in the NFL, he has stayed committed and healthy to play in all 48 regular season games. Not to mention the three playoff games in 2017. Over those 48 games, he has recorded 80 total tackles, 29.5 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles. Monstrous numbers for a guy that came into the league with low expectations. He blew those expectations out of the water and continues to be a force on the defensive side of the ball for Jacksonville. 

Ngakoue presents a very interesting skill set as a pass rusher. While a multitude of edge rushers look to throw away the blocker and pressure the quarterback through pure strength and technique, Yannick has used his undeniable speed and length to get underneath the pass protection and hurry the quarterback. He has made a name for himself as one of the most feared defensive players in the eyes of quarterbacks in the NFL while focusing on parts of the game that are vital for winning. 

Ngakoue uses three approaches in particular to his pass rushing technique. He looks to jump off the line of scrimmage as the ball is snapped and utilizes his quickness to cause pressure in the pocket, create turnovers to flip field position for his offense to flourish, and has a never say die attitude when it comes to every down. 

In this play, Ngakoue fires off the line of scrimmage and gets underneath the offensive lineman before they even have the chance to get a hold of his pads to execute the block. By doing this, he is able to use his momentum gained from his jump off the line to push back the defender and get him on his heels early in the play. Ngakoue then blows past him and is able to get the strip sack on the quarterback. His speed on this play allows him to drop off the offensive lineman and have a straight path to the QB. Being lined up on the quarterback’s blind side, Ngakoue shows that he can shed off blocks and surprise the quarterback with forceful hits or bat the ball out of his hands for a potential swing in momentum. 

Yannick has shown a knack of being able to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. Leading the NFL in forced fumbles in the 2017 season, he showed his talent of creating turnovers and giving the offense great starting field position, if those forced fumbles don’t result in a score by the defense. 

In these plays, Yannick displays that knack by rounding the corner and using his reach to knock the ball out of Kiser’s hand not once but twice. 

Creating this type of pressure in a game where the offense hasn’t had much production is too much to go unnoticed. Ngakoue has a zeal to be able to shift the momentum of the game to his teams’ favor. Especially in the second play where he wraps around the outside of the offensive line, knocks the ball out of Kiser’s hand, and allows Telvin Smith to recover the fumble in the end zone to escape a near upset loss to the Cleveland Browns. 

Ngakoue commented on that game by saying “To be elite, to do it consistently in one game, that’s pretty special.” And he’s definitely right about that. 

Ngakoue is a generational talent at defensive end and continues to lead by example on a Jaguars team that at times can lack a leader in the locker room. He shows the uncanny ability to do whatever it takes for his team to win. In 2017, Yannick was one of only 2 players in the NFL with 10+ sacks and 5+ forced fumbles (six). Who was the only other player? None other than Aaron Donald, who’s arguably the best defensive player in the NFL at the moment. Yannick’s skill set and production on the field are up there with the best. Therefore, his salary should be as well. 

“Being able to change the game, and being able to get that ball out the quarterback’s hand, that wins games and for a player to be able to do that, that’s pretty special,” Yannick says during his interview with NFL network after being voted the number 88 player of the season in 2017. 

While there are many abilities that the former Maryland student-athlete possesses, one that may be the most important to his success may be his mindset. He has a mamba mentality of never quitting. Not on a play, not in a game, not in a season. You will never see the man give up. This may be the biggest reason as to why the Jaguars need to pay him. For all 60 minutes of the game, he will give his team 110%. 

In this clip, Ngakoue shows that never-say-die attitude by overcoming being initially taken out of the play by the offensive lineman. It looks like he may have been out of an impactful position but, he wills his way back into the play to make a big stop on third down. Seeing Jacoby Brissett step up in the pocket as Yannick is making his way around the outside, he plants his foot and comes back towards the play to turn what could’ve resulted in positive yardage from a quarterback scramble into being a loss of a yard. Being able to fight past adversity from play to play is what separates the good from the great. Yannick has proven that he is a great player, especially in his last two years. 

In this play against the Bengals, Ngakoue shows great perseverance as it looks like he overshot the play. Despite hitting the ground he has the strength and ability to bounce up and get a tackle for loss. A play that could’ve turned into a big run if Yannick had not given so much effort. Being able to bounce back up and make a play as big as this one shows how hard he works to be one of the best in the league. 

Ngakoue continues to be one of the most under-appreciated players in the NFL and is an elite rusher who will do anything to help his team win. While we saw a bit of a drop off from him in 2018, he still ranked 23rd in total sacks throughout the NFL with 9.5 and was a gigantic piece to the puzzle on a defense that ranked top 5 in a 5-11 season. 

With many players in today’s NFL going in and out due to injury or off the field issues, Yannick has stayed consistent and put his heart and soul into the Jaguars organization. He’s shown his potential and consistency needed to really be a solid playmaker for this strong Jacksonville defense for years to come. This creates even more of a reason to sign him to a big contract extension this offseason. 

Brandon Carroll is a 19-year-old college student aspiring to be involved in sports media. He has been writing for Locked On Jaguars for about many months now and has published multiple articles during his time. His love for the game of football is apart of who he is as a person and he continues to showcase that love through writing.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

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

Demetrius Harvey



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



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



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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