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Jacksonville Jaguars key player of the week: Myles Jack

Brandon Carroll

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Sep 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars middle linebacker Myles Jack (44) is called for face mask penalty on Denver Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (17) in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After securing a big, come from behind win Sunday in Denver, the Jacksonville Jaguars will travel back across the country to take on the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers have been on a hot streak as of late in the absence of Cam Newton. The first-time starter, Kyle Allen has been able to accomplish just enough for the Panthers to come out victorious in both of the games he’s started.

A large part of Allen’s success, so far, should be credited to the Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has been a huge addition to the Panthers since he was drafted in the first round in 2017.

Being slowly integrated into the lineup his rookie year alongside Johnathan Stewart, McCaffrey made a good first impression very quickly. The Panthers decided he was the running back for the future in 2018 when they decided to let go of a long-time Panther in Stewart and begin with a new face at starting running back.

McCaffrey has a mix of speed and physicality out of the backfield that has the potential to give any team trouble, even those at the top of the league. He is one of the best players in all aspects of the running back position in the NFL. His dynamic playmaking ability is unique and difficult for teams to game plan against, nevertheless shut down.

On Sunday, the focal point will be to limit McCaffrey’s impact in any way possible. Providing adequate coverage when he comes the backfield in the passing game, a run-stopping presence when he takes the ball between the tackles, and working around him when he sets up in pass protection will be huge to differentiate whether the Jaguars return to Jacksonville with a win or loss.

The responsibility of containing one of the best running backs in the league will ultimately rest on the veteran middle linebacker, Myles Jack.

Sep 8, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars middle linebacker Myles Jack (44) enters the field prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Key Player of the Week: Middle Linebacker, Myles Jack

In his third year out of UCLA, Myles Jack was expected to take a large step to be a leader of the defensive unit. Being voted a captain by the coaches, Jack started the season with high expectations not just on the field, but off as well.

In his first few years, Jack has played extremely well and was rewarded a contract extension prior to the 2019 season due to that stellar play. But, the Jaguars were looking for more out of him in 2019 other than his performance.

They wanted to see the guy who they took a chance on in the second round of the 2016 draft to develop into being someone others on the team can follow by example. He has shown flashes of leadership potential but had also shown to let his emotions get the best of him on occasion. Especially week one against Kansas City where he was ejected for throwing a punch.

So far this season, Jack has accounted for 11 tackles in four games. His on-field play has been solid in every aspect, but he has tended to struggle with opposing running backs coming out of the backfield.

An area of the game that he will need to get better as the Jaguars are gearing up to face two of the best pass-catching backs in the league the next two weeks.

On Sunday, his leadership abilities will be tested when he has to face the Carolina Panthers offense,

As a starting middle linebacker for his second year in a row, Jack has continued to adapt to moving inside and has learned the role well. His ability to make tackles at the line of scrimmage and communicate within the defense is part of the reason the Jaguars have had so much success on the defensive side of the ball the past two years.

Jack will have quite possibly the tallest task of his career in attempting to contain star running back Christian McCaffrey on Sunday. Being able to stay on him tightly in coverage as well as plug holes within the run game is huge in the defensive game plan on McCaffrey.

Having to face such a dynamic player does not go unnoticed to the Jaguars’ defense. Each player when asked about McCaffrey has gushed over his abilities. The Jaguars will have to monitor McCaffrey closely as an entire unit, but the majority will ultimately fall into Jack.

Jack understands the responsibility that lies on his shoulders going into week five. His preparation and work in practice throughout the week are a huge part of who he is.

The is no chance the Jaguars can completely shut down McCaffrey as he is just too talented.

But, if Jack can limit the Panthers running back’s production on Sunday, the Jaguars have a great chance to extend their win streak to three games and pick up their second consecutive win on the road.

Brandon Carroll is an 18-year-old college student aspiring to be a sports journalist. Has written articles over the past few years for fun and had two published within In The Game magazine. Locked On Jags is his first real opportunity to showcase his writing and love for football.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Saints: Five observations from Sunday’s 6-13 loss

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (right) and quarterback Nick Foles (left) look on during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars had their most brutal game offensively against the Saints yesterday and were simply outmatched at the end of the day in their 6-13 loss on Sunday.

The Jaguars will have to regroup and figure out a way to play consistently both offensively and defensively down the stretch if they want an opportunity to play in the playoffs this January. For now, they are a team with pieces to get them there but have not played like a complete unit except for their week three win against the Tennessee Titans.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone took the blame for Sunday’s loss during his post-game press conference.

“It starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job. I told the team [that] I like their effort, playing hard, we’ve just got to perform better, really.”

1. Gardner Minshew hadn’t played like a rookie — until Sunday

Jaguars rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew has been the talk of the town over the first six weeks of the regular season for his play since taking over for an injured Nick Foles. Before yesterday, Minshew completed 110 out of 165 of his passes for 1,279 yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception.

Yesterday, however, was simply not his day. Minshew completed only 14 of his 29 attempts for 163 yards and an interception.

After the game, Minshew placed the majority of the blame on himself, saying “Yeah it was a tough day; they are a good team. I missed some balls that I can’t miss. They played good coverage at times and got after us upfront at times. We’ll go look at the film and figure out what we need to fix.”

Much of the rookie’s issues stemmed from what the Saints did defensively. This included taking the Jaguars out of a position of strength by containing Minshew within the pocket and taking his most reliable receiver — DJ Chark Jr. — out of the game by bracketing him and placing their best cornerback, Marshon Lattimore on him.

Minshew will need to step his game up in the coming weeks, especially if the Saints laid out a blueprint on how to stop him. When Minshew did try to step up in the pocket, he was unable to get anywhere.

2. Jaguars defense played extraordinary on Sunday

The Jaguars defense was the talk of the town exiting their loss against the Carolina Panthers a week ago where they allowed 285 rushing yards — the second-most in franchise history. This week, the Jaguars were able to rebound on defense, allowing only 104 yards on the ground.

Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara gained only 31 yards on 11 attempts. Easily his worst day at the office this season on the ground. Multiple players including, Taven Bryan, Josh Allen, and D.J. Hayden were major pieces to the puzzle on Sunday.

While they did give up some yardage through the air — 240 yards on 24 completions –, the Jaguars did well in stopping the Saints. New Orleans converted only 5 out of 13 (38%) of their third-downs yesterday.

“We played good ball, but we didn’t capitalize off when we needed to,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye said yesterday after the game. “Our mentality is if offense puts up points, then we have to stop them. We gave them some X plays and runs that we couldn’t finish off. We played good red zone defense which made it a little hard for them to get in the end zone and score on us. This is a learning experience. We are going to come in tomorrow and watch film and work on the areas we were slow to cover.”

3. Jaguars need to find a number two receiver, and fast

Yesterday, it was clear the Jaguars had no answer for the Saints pass defense which blanketed DJ Chark Jr. for much of the day. Chark Jr. was only able to get free on a couple of designed routes towards the middle of the field.

Receiver Dede Westbrook was able to get free for a few catches (three for 53 yards on the day), however, for much of the afternoon, he was slowed considerably, forcing Minshew to check down to running back Leonard Fournette who led the team in receptions with six receptions for 43 yards.

Chris Conley — another featured receiver — was unable to get anything going after being targeted three times. Conley had zero receptions on the day and failed to create much separation.

After the game, Conley voiced his frustrations going against the Saints’ defense stating, “Yeah, that is frustrating. We knew how they were going to play the game today. We knew that DJ [Chark Jr.] was going to draw double-coverage, and we have to execute in other spots. They played a little different than what we expected. We expected them to double DJ, but we didn’t expect them to play two-man all-day basically. We have to win versus two-man [coverage].”

The Jaguars will have to learn how to maneuver around tough situations and especially cover two-man coverage moving forward. If they do not find a receiver who can win against single coverage all day, they are in for a long remainder of the season.

4. Nickel corner DJ Hayden is the Jaguars’ best defender

As a player who does not receive nearly as much praise as he deserves, Hayden is playing the most consistent football out of any player on the Jaguars’ defense. Hayden was able to make multiple plays on the ball in yesterday’s contest and executes open-field to perfection.

On one key play, Hayden stopped Kamara in the open field on a screen which almost assuredly would have been a big gain. Hayden is playing injured with a sore foot and has continuously performed well on the field. Jaguars’ defensive coordinator Todd Wash praised Hayden for his toughness just last week as he battled the foot injury, getting him in the game against Carolina.

“It was bothering him a lot last week,” Wash said. “And I think our training staff and our doctors have done a real good job of rehabbing him and getting him in position to be able to play this week.”

5. Leonard Fournette is playing his best brand of football

Fournette is playing fantastic football on the ground for the Jaguars and has consistently been one of their best players despite his poor showing against the Tennessee Titans. Finding his groove, Fournette ran hard and got tough yards with an offensive line that continues to have consistency issues.

For the year, Fournette has run 115 times for 584 yards and one touchdown. He has also added 26 receptions for 189 yards. If the Jaguars offense has any bright spot exiting week six, it is him.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Minshew Magic fades as Jaguars offense falters in 13-6 loss to Saints

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) scrambles with the ball against New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars struggle to get anything going in a “must-win” game at home in their 13-6 loss to New Orleans Saints. 

In what was the most disappointing performance of his short career, Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew struggled mightily to get anything going in the passing game in what was likely due to how the Saints’ defense played the Jaguars receivers and the Jaguars’ signal-caller throughout the game.

Indecisiveness, happy-feet in the pocket, and inaccurate throws were all on display this week for Minshew. Minshew completed 14 out of 29 of his passes for 163 yards and an interception on the day. Zero touchdowns marked the first time all season the rookie quarterback was not able to get the ball in the endzone.

Where the passing game struggled, so did the Jaguars’ rushing attack. Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette only accounted for 20 carries for 72 yards (3.6 yards-per-carry) which ended his streak of 100-yard rushing performances at only two.

Receiver DJ Chark Jr. spoke about the defense he saw against the Saints today in the post-game open locker room stating, “When they covered us, they were in Cover 2 man [coverage] throughout the game. Personally, on my end, Marshon Lattimore did a very good job by covering me along with the safety which made it harder for me to run my routes on my end of the field. ”

The Jaguars will have to figure out a way to move the ball better than they did against the Saints today, and part of it comes from coaching. Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone said in his post-game press conference that the coaches have to do a better job schematically when the receivers are struggling to get any separation.

In what is a form of a role-reversal for the Jaguars, the Jaguars played extremely well defensively which has not been their calling card the past two weeks. The team has only played one complete game all season where the Jaguars’ offense and defense seemed to be in sync the entire game — against the Tennessee Titans.

GAME RECAP: 

After opting to defer to begin the game, the Jaguars’ defense was ready to contain the Saints’ offense throughout the entire game. The longest play allowed by the Jaguars’ defense was a 27-yard pass in the first quarter to Saints’ wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. For the most part, the Jaguars’ defense was able to completely shut down the Saints opening few series, and pretty much the entire game.

The Jaguars defense bagan the day by forcing the Saints to punt twice before having to settle for a field goal, which would be the team’s first points of the game. This wasn’t a game of many offensive plays as both teams struggled to move the ball with any urgency throughout the entire game.

The Jaguars’ first points of the game would come on a 22-yard Josh Lambo field goal near the end of the third quarter, tying the game 3-3 at halftime in what could only be described as a defensive struggle at that point in the contest.

Not being able to get anything going offensively, Minshew would add insult to injury by throwing an ill-adviced interception only three plays into the third quarter to Marcus Lattimore. After the game, Minshew said he and Chark, had a sort of miscommunication which led to an errant throw. Chark stopped on his route and expected the ball to be placed inside, and Minshew threw the ball outside. It was the rookie’s first interception since week one of the regular season.

Able to capitalize on the Jaguars’ mistake, the New Orleans Saints would drive down a short field to score a 21-yard Will Lutz field goal, taking the lead for the second time today. Needing to recover from the interception, Minshew would go on to conduct his best drive of the day completing three out of four of his next passes for 37 yards driving the ball deep into Saints territory. A Cameron Jordan sack stopped any thought of the Jaguars scoring a touchdown and they instead would be forced to settle for another field goal, tying the game at six, deep into the third quarter.

The Jaguars’ defense would come up big during the day as they limited Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara to only 31 rushing yards on 11 carries. A complete 180 from last week when they allowed 285 rushing yards to Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers.

The Saints’ next scoring possession would come at the start of the fourth quarter when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would find Jared Cook over the middle of the field for a four-yard touchdown putting the Saints lead to — what seemed like — an insurmountable 13-6 lead.  The closet the Jaguars would get to the end zone would come on the drive right after. On a fourth-and-two, instead of electing to kick a field goal or punt the football at the Saints’ 40-yard line, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone went for it.

A Minshew incompletion would stop the Jaguars from getting any further, and ultimately would be the team’s last opportunity to score. The Jaguars did get the ball one more time but amounted to only four yards on a late fourth-quarter drive.

The Jaguars will have to regroup for their contest next week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are struggling currently, and if the Jaguars want to have any chance at making the playoffs this year, they will need to steal a win in Cincy.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Saints inactives: Ramsey out for third-straight game

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 15, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) warms up prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars will be without one of their star players for a third-straight week when they kickoff against the New Orleans Saints in a little over an hour. 

]Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be inactive for a third-straight week today after being listed as questionable. Ramsey has not played for the past two weeks due to a back injury and practiced on a very limited basis leading up to today’s game.

Jaguars defensive end Lerentee McCray came into Sunday as questionable with an oblique injury. However, after fully practicing on Friday he will be suiting up for the Jaguars today. McCray is an important piece to the Jaguars’ special teams unit.

Somewhat surprising, the Jaguars have benched rookie linebacker Quincy Williams in favor of veteran linebacker Najee Goode. Williams struggled mightily last week against Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers.

The Jaguars will need a fantastic performance today out of second-year cornerback Tre Herndon as he goes up against Saints’ star receiver Michael Thomas.

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